Love Is A Taught Construct



How do you know how to love? Did you sit wide-eyed in front a large screen as colourful costumed characters hugged one another to a saccharine sound-track so this imbued you with the concept of what love was? Did those cartoon characters explain to you what it is to love? Did their exaggerated voices and crazy antics, followed by the moral of the story teach you what love is? Perhaps you read about it in love, heard it in songs and studied the many ways in which this ultimate emotion appears and affects people. Chances are that you have been affected by those hugely affecting passages from the great works dedicated to love. Chances are you have been captured by haunting lyrics and catchy jingles which also profess to tell you what love is. They have all played a part. You may have learned about love from the version churned out by the media, of Hollywood romance, dashing heroes, fair maidens, tarts with golden hearts, the good man who rides to the rescue, the wayward soul saved by love. Love may have been explained to you from the pulpit as a higher love, something which transcends all earthly manifestations, a love so powerful and complete that it sacrificed its only son in order to demonstrate its love for humankind. This godly love is all around you, it touches each and all and is mighty in its effects. Love may have been learned from furtive fumbles down alleyways, sneaking into bedrooms when so young, the exploration of warm and urgent body parts accompanied by those every so sincere protestations of love. A haphazard journey through galloping teen years as nothing and everything makes sense all at once. Then again, love might have appeared to you in the form of something small and furry, an unconditional (so long as it was fed) love which was loyal, giving and ever so cute. So many erudite tutors, learned lecturers and wise proponents of what love is. Love thy neighbour, love yourself, love is all you need, woman in love, it must have been love, crazy little thing called love, to know him is to love him, we found love, how deep is your love? Love is all around us, in us, between us, lifting us up and letting us down. It is everywhere and you may well have been taught by many of the above and more besides as to what love is.

However, love most likely will have been taught to you by those who created you, those two people who came together and through their own pleasure created you. Two people who decided that they would shoulder the responsibility of creating life, nurturing it and bringing a new person into the world. Those two people accepted many, many responsibilities from such a decision and act. Chief among them was the responsibility of teaching that person what love is. Through their offices they have furnished each and every one of us with the notion of what love is. A deep-seated and visceral understanding of this is how love feels, this is what it looks like, this is what it sounds like. This is love. From those two people more than anything else we are first grounded in the concept of what love is. This grounding lasts a considerable time and whilst there are other factors to be considered, as I have mentioned above, it is this lesson which is learnt invariably first and the one lesson which resonates beyond all others. So often we are in their hands when it comes to being taught about love. So, what is this taught love? It has so many, many facets.

Love is being told to never trust anybody.

Love is being made to re-write the entire essay because of one spelling mistake.

Love is being sent to stand outside on a cold winter’s day until all three verses of Ode to Autumn are recited correctly.

Love is knowing nothing is ever good enough.

Love is understanding that someone else knows better than you what is best for you.

Love is turning away from the reality.

Love is standing straight against a wall for several hours for speaking out of turn.

Love is for the weak.

Love is being told that when I am gone nobody else will look out for you.

Love is succeeding.

Love is building a wall as high as possible.

Love is trying until it hurts and gaining that final curt nod of approval.

Love is being seen and not heard.

Love is fulfilling your potential and securing that legacy.

Love is hurting you even though it hurts me, but someone in this household has to do it and it won’t be him will it?

Love is reading to yourself than being read to.

Love is living in the shadows and hoping not to be noticed.

Love is being the best.

Love is the preserve of the powerful.

Love is being denied a birthday party because the other children are too stupid.

Love is being undermined in order to prevent conceit.

Love is a begrudged recognition and the injunction to try harder, go further, climb higher, run faster, study longer.

Love is burning your hand but not crying.

Love is don’t tell anybody about our secret.

Love is a righteous beating.

Love is being distant and pretending things never happened.

Love is being sent away.

Love is not being told.

Love is splendid isolation.

Love was taught this way.

34 thoughts on “Love Is A Taught Construct

  1. Meredith says:

    HG- About what percentage of narcissists would you say have/had a narcissistic parent? less than 50%? more than 80%?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      It will be a high percentage 75% plus.

  2. MB says:

    HG, I don’t know what your mother did to you or her parent(s) to her and theirs to them. But what I DO know is that I commend you for allowing it to stop with you.

    Not only that, but if there’s even ONE child not born out of a toxic union due to your enlightenment of the empaths, all of your hard work will be worth it. (I know this is not your motivation, but it certainly is a noble side effect that will earn you a special place in heaven.)

    This article always makes me cry and makes me want to rock you in my arms, stroke your hair and read you a bedtime story. Sweet baby HG.

  3. SarcNarc says:

    Ah, I felt it was worth to add that I did not commit a Freudian slip here – the boy related to me what some mister told them – not to go near the birds’ air hole. Which was a no-brainer, I was already headed in the opposite direction anyway.
    And, knowing me, if he stopped at that and didn’t go on to work out my dog, I’d probably wave the little brat off with some cutting remark. Something new learned again: to mirror myself then and help the little yous see some pretty truth.

  4. SarcNarc says:

    Last week, I went to a park with my dog. I admit I was still fueling your past described above – feeling compassion for the boy out there in the rain, trying to remember a few stupid lines of some fu*ker’s drunken 5 minutes of inspiration. *

    Anyway, the pond in the park was completely frozen, we went on it and I saw two boys lying(!) on the ground to my right. One chubby and big, one small and thin, blue eyes, blond hair (sounds like somebody we know?) – now, my maternal instinct towards humans is rather scarce but this one amazed me with his deduction skills (which fail most adults in the case provided – something about my dog). I then saw his eyes were empty – like a lid was placed to stop the ocean from overflowing outside. So I gave him some manipulation, which is called recognition in some realms of this emo world: an affectionate smile to make his eyes light up and I promised I’d listen to his advice.

    * Love was being scolded for remembering a poem and repeating it to the self before sleep. Mirror, mirror.

  5. SarcNarc says:

    I’d say this was not love but a set of unfortunate teaching tools. People who know little of the subject matter usually don’t become good teachers. But they can be very good anti-role models. At least, this was my way.

    While reading this, I had the impression I could feel the sparks of cognitive dissonance igniting the synaptic love clefts in the boy’s brain. And while you dismiss the notion that love can cure it all, to me the idea of emotional homeopathy seems worth exploring: if a lack of genuine love was what caused the state, then maybe a hefty, unfabricated amount of it (and yes, also for one’s dear self – for getting this far despite everything at least) could do a trick or two. If not love, then maybe its opposite would do for an antidote – revulsion? May or may not be. No way to know without trying.

    I liked what Paul Ekman wrote on his blog: “My sister once asked me what made me think I could aim so high, to which I answered there was no choice; it was what I had to do. Was it because I had a father who scorned me? (He wrote the government protesting the waste of the taxpayers’ money when he heard I had received my first federal research grant). I admit that I enjoyed knowing how envious he was of my achievements. He was not a parent but a competitor, who I beat again and again, enjoying my victories!”

    Also, I believe this is where compassion and forgiveness come in handy, as they are more beneficial for the offended rather than the offender. In short, they let people get on with their life without an extra weight on their heart and mind. I’d describe it as “sod them and their offences, past is a must, but it can’t surpass now” in my case.

    Ekman also suggested something called “compassion joy” – similar to runner’s high but with no need to run for it.

  6. Dandelion says:

    MY question is: is it real strengh you gained HG, or your entire existance is an huge compensation to silent that crying child?
    Because if not recognised, he still lies there inside or behind the facade.

    Of course making good, important and meaningfull things and actions is a very appreciable reaction to the injury.

    Although we all recognise the greatness of your job, do you really think all your material achievements represent “the best” you deserve?

    I think there’ s a sleeping unknown dimension of you are near to explore….

    1. Bibi says:

      Good questions, Dandelion. But just to clarify, I don’t consider material things ‘achievements’.

      By HG’s achievements, I meant self-awareness, insights, and a means to express such. The somatic Lesser had none of those. I have no idea what HG’s real world job even is, so I am in no position to tell if it is ‘great’ or not.

      If it pays the bills then that is good. Work is work.

      I do admit to enjoying some nice things of my own, but I don’t need a $200 toaster or $500 pen.

      My cats would end up stealing the pen and I’d never see it again.

  7. Bibi says:

    This is very sad to think of little HG having to endure this treatment. However, the positive side is that you have on many levels come out triumphant and have not remained in that small, hurt state.

    I was thinking about this post today and I remembered a Lesser somatic telling me how he had a horrible mother and ran away from home at 15, and I later learned he started getting in trouble with the law when he was still a minor.

    He came from poverty and has since grown into a 40 yr old schlub who is satisfied with working out, getting girls pregnant, going to the bars and working as a lawn sprayer for a living. He does not have your intellect, talent, accomplishments. I have no doubt he would love to have them as his own, but even your blog posts would confuse him, as he’d cry that there are ‘too many big words’.

    His life is, for the post part, fucked. He has nothing, largely because of his own poor choices but also he simply lacks the intellect and abilities you have. Clearly, you were self aware enough to avoid these poor entanglements, where he was not.

    Your achievements are a good thing and worthy of attention. The Lesser somatic is pretty much a life wasted and that saddens me, no matter how big a jerk someone is. It’s still a life.

    So I suppose what I am saying is that while it saddens me to hear of your boyhood hurts, it pleases me that you have been able to gain strengths from it, as well as insights with which you now share.

    And if you ever really want to undergo a daunting task, try discussing literature with a somatic.

    ‘Er…dat dere is a metaphor….dat Melville uses too many big words…um…dur…’

    (True story.)

  8. Kate says:

    If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn.
    If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight.
    If a child lives with ridicule, he learns to be shy.
    If a child lives with shame, he learns to feel guilty.

    If a child lives with tolerance, he learns to be patient.
    If a child lives with encouragement, he learns confidence.
    If a child lives with praise, he learns to appreciate.
    If a child lives with fairness, he learns justice.
    If a child lives with security, he learns to have faith.
    If a child lives with approval, he learns to like himself.
    If a child lives with acceptance and friendship, he learns to find love in the world.

    This beautiful poem was given to me when I was pregnant, and I have referred to it often.

    1. MLA - Clarece says:

      Hi Kate! I love this poem! When parents say kids do not come with instructions, this is a perfect cheat sheet. Lol
      For parents, remembering that how they handle certain “firsts” with their kids leaves a monumental impact and blueprint for them to follow. Remembering to stay mindful, even if you’ve had a bad day is crucial.
      What I mean by “firsts” are things ranging from correcting your toddler not to fib, how to deal with struggles of bad grades in school, and also how to encourage and praise good grades and achievements, how you act around them during the awkward junior high years and teaching them about the birds and bees, making sure they don’t feel too self conscious with growing bodies, how you handle the first time they sneak out of the house with friends, how you handle a death in the family, etc. It all leaves such a huge imprint when thru their eyes, it is a “first” time.

    2. E. B. says:

      Beautiful and sad at the same time (first stanza). Thank you for sharing it.
      When my brother’s son was born, I gave his wife Kahlil Gibran’s ‘Your children are not your children’. She gave me the Silent Treatment.

  9. Perseschoolofhardnarcs says:

    I would guess that the majority of your readers here are empaths, because of they way you address us.

    I would also posit that a good many of us empaths also received these “messages of love”, to an equal or lesser extent.

    Do you think the genetic component is necessary to make a narcissist, or can a normal be made into a narcissist with the right abusive conditioning?

    What of those raised/bred by 2 narcissists? I wonder what the ratio of narcissist to empath children would be? What would be/is the experience of the solo child of that union?
    I would bet on there being no normals from that pedigree; the “nurture”(parent/child relationship) causing the changes away from normality, in either direction.

    If i remove the emotional component when I consider what you have written, it still piques my curiosity.

    Must be a good day, since it didn’t make me cry.

    Or maybe I’m being desensitized.

    I think that would be good for me.

  10. blackunicorn123 says:

    This article has hit the nail on the head for me; personally speaking, my view of love has totally been shaped by my parents, yet I’ve only really joined up the dots quite recently. What’s that poem by Philip Larkin? “They fuck you up, your mum and dad. They may not mean it, but they do.”
    I have made so many bad choices, put my self in danger, not recognised my own boundaries, because I was made to feel completely worthless , over and over again.
    I remember when I was about 5 years old I fell over in the school playground and cut my knee quite badly. I still have a large scar, so it must of been bad and not my childhood imagination. A classmate’a dad picked me up and carried me home because I couldn’t walk. I had never been held by anybody and I just remember this feeling of being safe and secure. I also remember the twist of fear in my stomach when my mother met us half way home. The dad offered to carry me all the way home, but she made him put me down so I could walk home. The pain was excruciating . She berated me the whole way back about making a fuss. I can still cry when I remember that feeling of safety in that dad’s arms. I can’t remember his face, just the feeling. It was the only time I ever felt safe as a child.
    It was from then that I started to wonder what it was like in other families. I used to find it very difficult when I saw families hug each other. The sense of loss was awful.
    They fuck you up, your mum and dad.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      This Be The Verse.

      1. blackunicorn123 says:

        It is, HG, thank you.

    2. K says:

      I am so sorry, blackunicorn123. How sad, you deserved to feel safe and loved when you were a child. I wondered what it was like in other families too.

      1. blackunicorn123 says:

        Thanks K 🤗

    3. BurntKrispyKeen says:

      Blackunicorn123…. (((Hugs))) to you.
      What you went through tears at my heart. Our childhood wounds stay with us, but what a blessing that you’ve managed to rise above this and stay caring and kind, and I can from your posts that you’ve kept your sense of humor too. There’s much strength that they didn’t take from you.

      1. blackunicorn123 says:

        Thanks, BKK 🤗. I’ve always been stubborn (at least, according to my mother 🙄), and fight hard against life’s disappointments. I think all of us here are a testament to strength and the will to overcome! We are all awesome!! Xx

  11. Not So Sad says:

    I get what you say HG but every single relationship you have ” Love” is there for your taking.

    You’ve often said that your victims ( appliances) are out to destroy you No they are NOT .

    You destroy them piece by piece until there’s nothing left for you to take from them anymore AND then move on & repeat the cycle over & over again.

    You know what you are & as much as you think you have control you haven’t ..

    Sadly .

  12. narc affair says:

    This makes me sad everytime i read it 🙁 having children myself i cant ever imagine blatantly abusing them in this way. It damages the core of who they are. Damage can be undone with therapy or improved. My heart goes out to all of those abused 💓

  13. Carol M says:

    Such awful experiences, made even worse by the fact people assume any parent that does not allow you to starve is automatically a perfect one; emotional abuse is way too often overlooked.

  14. Narc Angel says:


    I know that you do not attach the word or feeling of love to anyone else, but is there anything you can say you love about yourself?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      I have an excellent conceit about many things about myself, but as you identify, to say “I love” certain things about myself, would not be accurate in the strict sense of the word.

  15. Hurt&Confused (but it’s becoming clearer) says:

    This was painful to read.What many of us experienced as children was an ugly, painful, frightening, embarrassing, distorted and dysfunctional version of love. It was our parents’ version of love.
    That is not the version of love I want to give and receive. I reject it. Completely.

  16. Twilight says:

    This one gets me every time HG.

  17. Melina says:

    Hello! I was wondering can I be a Narcissist and have empathy? I mean, I know it’s one of the defining criteria to lack it but there are things I read I can strongly relate to. Or is it possible that I am lesser or mid-ranger as you put it and the empathy I think I have is actually something else?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      No you cannot.
      It is more likely that you are empathic and have narcissistic traits or you have many narcissistic traits and few empathic traits, but you are not a narcissist.

  18. Catherine says:

    You certainly have a point here HG. How do we know what love is or what love should be without a society regulating the standards for how to feel and how to act? In my case I had a mother who made a mediocre pretence at love, but it was all a fake show to manipulate her surroundings. My father on the other hand is an emotional man that was somehow early on stunted in his ability to express feelings. There wasn’t really that much love to go around in my family and I got my notion of what love is from great works of literature (women suffering and sacrificing themselves for love) and from a TV show I still remember distinctly (sorry! sorry! I haven’t met a man yet who would watch it): I loved The Thorn Birds and the sad story of Father Ralph and Meggie; I still remember the sweetness of crying those tears of tragedy watching it to the end. What kind of a notion of true love in the real world do you get from that kind of conditioning?

    Your childhood notions of love are on the other hand so sad. That’s harsh reality for many children; I recognise some of them from my own formative years. Then I would prefer the alternative of tarts with golden hearts instead and to live in a dream world I guess. But that’s my problem from the beginning; dreaming too much.

  19. BurntKrispyKeen says:

    I’ve been waiting for this. Thank you for sharing a part of your story and for saying it with such beautiful words.

    My heart is hurting for that lost little boy. None of us are perfect, but we should all realize how criticism to a child is always magnified. I believe in discipline as many of us have failed to provide that adequately, but I hope we never lose sight of how important it is to teach love, properly.

    As a child, I see how it must have felt as though you weren’t valued… but know that more than you realize… are proud of the man.

    Again, thank you for reposting this glimpse inside a portion of your personal journey and for sharing it in the most eloquent way.

  20. geyserempath says:

    OMG…I may have some narc tendencies as love was taught to me in a few of these ways. I was never made to feel good enough and my report card had to have ALL As..or else…but one stood out in particular in glaring familiarity and my mouth fell open:

    “Love is reading to yourself than being read to” Both my MLVN and I have this in common. We both had the books that made you turn the page when you heard a sound. His mother proudly relates how he learned to read at a tender age because of this method.

    HG – Both my narc and I are only children, which meant keeping yourself amused a lot of the time. Do only children tend to make up the largest percentage of narcissists?

  21. Empress1 says:

    Some have been raised that way- and end up empaths so as never to have that done to another ( they also do not expect much in return) and some end up as narcs. So sad!

  22. Becky says:

    Love is a warped concept when you grow up in a Narcissistic family. Even when you get away from them your perception remains forever distorted.

    Here’s what I was taught:

    Love is about taking it.
    Love is playing along.
    Love is letting someone else determine my options.
    Love is being a slave.
    Love is taking my feelings and shoving them down.
    Love is being humiliated and hurt by you, because it pleases you to do so.
    Love is someone not doing their part and saying it’s your fault. (I lived that long before reading it on HG’s site!)

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