Love is a Taught Construct



How do you know how to love? Did you sit wide-eyed in front of 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 ever 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.



Is it Love?

41 thoughts on “Love is a Taught Construct

  1. PurrPurrHiss says:

    (con’t) was full of so much pain. It makes me so angry at your family! A good thing to come out of it is the man you’ve become. You are able to help so many people, a fact that you can feel genuinely proud of. YOU did that. YOU focused your gifts in this manor. Also….if you need a member of the low table to fall victim to an unfortunate accident, you just say the word 😉

  2. PurrPurrHiss says:

    Oh HG, this makes my heart hurt so badly. I hate that childhood innocen

  3. Valerie Beringer says:

    That’s cold.

  4. lickemtomorrow says:

    I’ve had another, in some ways sadder, thought in relation to this article.

    HG, love is a taught construct for you because a number of emotions or experiences are unavailable to you.

    Like other emotions you are required to copy or ‘mirror’, love is something that must be constructed from nothing and others must show you what that looks like.

    From your mother’s narcissistic point of view, and due to her inability to love, it was whatever she constructed from her own experience. She was more likely driven by what love wasn’t due to her narcissism.

    We all desire to experience love, but I do believe there is something inherent in us that knows what love is, what it looks like, how it feels, and the inability to experience it is what enables you to write things like “Attachment is the Seat of Misery”.

  5. December Infinity says:

    I can relate to this article. I experienced being treated that way when I was growing up.

  6. Asp Emp says:

    Re-reading this is article is a good ‘reminder’ to never “allow” somebody else to “dictate” where and how and who I can, or cannot, direct my emotions. Especially when I have spent my time, forcing myself to ‘undo’ years of abuse, years of gaslighting, years of not being ‘me’. I have always had positive emotions and will not be ‘dictated’ how and when I can, or cannot ‘apply’ these to who I choose are to be ‘recipients’ of such.

    1. Rebecca says:

      Asp Emp,

      I started having real issues with my recent narcissist, when he started asking me where I was and trying to tell me who I can and can’t talk with….it stressed me out and pissed me off at the same time. Part of me was like, who do you think you are? And another part of me was like, what the hell is his problem? What is going on with him? I hadn’t yet figured him out yet at that point,but he started acting possessive over me and started getting demanding of more and more of my time. He also started future faking a lot with me. I was concerned, getting scared and getting annoyed. It was something I had never experienced before and I had ,had other narcissists in my life before,but never knew it before coming here on the blog. None of the other narcs acted like him. It wasn’t a good experience for me at that point. I felt like he thought he owned me,like I was a dog to him. I remember how jumpy I was and uptight, totally not like me at all.

      1. Rebecca says:

        Asp Emp,

        I threatened his control because I was a badly behaving appliance. I wouldn’t toast his bread, I kept spitting out the bread. Lol O have a sassy mouth and I talked back to him,treated him like he was treating me and he discarded me.
        I was discarded in the end of July, last contact was October, phone call,not face to face…so far no contact, except a lieutenant recently, that I missed by chance, lucky me….I feel better now that he’s gone, though I do still have bad days sometimes. I hurt some,but the pain isn’t as bad as it use to be. It’s more manageable and stepping on my ET helps and using LT helps knock down the ET

        1. Asp Emp says:

          Rebecca, thank you for your responses 🙂 Hmmm. That Lesser I knew behaved exactly like that. At least he did state something ‘true’ in the early days of the ensnarement “I want to possess you”. Fkg hell. His ‘future faking’ was work-related from the very beginning. Nothing “materialised”, it was not him that eventually gave me a paid job – it was a decision by 2 other people (in front of him). MRN was more ‘covert’ with his insidiousness. MRN was intially ‘future’ faking’ relationship-wise, followed by work-wise. Both were very different. Yet, equally destructive.

          Laughing at your words in second comment – you sound as if you ‘responded’ like I did. “badly behaving appliance / wouldn’t his bread / kept spitting it out” – laughing. Apparently, a dog ‘ate’ the Lesser’s phone. I didn’t believe him (LOL). Ah, that was such a ‘successful’ day where I ‘shot’ him so many times with empath grenades. It was also the last time I spoke with him.

          It is good to read you understand where your ET / LT is, you also understand that by using your LT to knock down the ET. Good lass 🙂

  7. wensical says:

    None of those are examples of love. This is the absolute opposite of love. I’m so sorry that you had to endure those expressions of what love is not. That is called abuse. I’m no expert and have my own issues with expressing and receiving true love but I know this isn’t what it looks like.

    My parents knew nothing of what love really is. I didn’t learn it from them. I found it on my own and in my own time. I still struggle with with some of these but I believe we learn and improve in these areas over time. This is what I believe love looks like written by a man named Paul.

    Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

    1. Lucycita says:

      True but if that’s what he was taught by the most important figure in the formative years then that is his reality. Was he tenderly hugged and comforted when he cried? Did he snuggle up to his mother when he fell asleep and sniff her skin scent? When everything went wrong in his rough little world did he wrap himself in her skirt for sanctuary? He has the answers. Where was the love and how can he recognise that concept now. If he didn’t experience this kind of love as a child he cannot recognise and develop it now.

      1. wensical says:

        Hello Lucycita, great comment. I disagree with one thing. If he didn’t experience that type of love as a child then he won’t recognize and develop it as an adult. We don’t know if he had loving parents or not. Just because someone does not experience that type of love that Paul describes as a child, doesn’t mean they can’t learn and understand what it should look like.

        HG, said himself it is taught. We can unlearn anything. There are many factors in our lives that shape us into who and what we are. Not just our parents. Experiences, faith, other people around us. So, I am thankful that I at least have a guide of what I believe true love looks like. All of which are meant to make me better and to help me recognize in someone else the red flags that I have ignored in the past.

        Honestly, looking back on my relationship with the narc it was my understanding of what love is “not” by Paul’s definition of what it is, that made me get out sooner than I might have.

        1. A Victor says:

          Wensical, wow! That’s brilliant! I raised my children doing the exact opposite of what my parents did. I had to think about every single thing until I had my third when it got a bit more automatic, but by then my oldest was 11 so I’d been doing it for a while. So why don’t I do the same with a romantic situation? Haha, because all sense leaves my head!!

          1. wensical says:

            AV, thank you. You are a wise person! I really believe that being shown the wrong way will prompt us to attempt to do things differently. This is not always true but if we are lucky and are fortunate enough to have good people and experiences in our lives at some point along the way we can retrain ourselves to live differently than we were raised.

            It may take years as it has with me but sooner or later we get there. At least to a place where we recognize the unhealthy and dysfunctional way we were brought up. I know I was able to raise my girls much differently than what I knew growing up!
            Not perfect and not without mistakes but in a much healthier way.

            Still learning and trying to correct mistakes but at least I recognize them now! 😊

          2. A Victor says:

            Wendy, same, life is one big learning process I think, at least mine has been so far! 😃

    2. lickemtomorrow says:

      Wensical, that last paragraph often used at weddings as a reminder of the basis for the relationship <3 It makes me realize how blind we are going into it sometimes, and how we can completely misunderstand what love is even on the basis of biblical truth. It can be used to keep us in an abusive relationship, as much as it can free us to understand what love really is in a truly loving relationship. One to use wisely, especially in the context of narcissistic relationships x

      1. wensical says:

        Hi LET, this is so true. However, the traditional wedding vows that most people use do not include what Paul describes. They do not originate from the Bible at all. They come from The Book of Common Prayer by Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury. The Book of Common Prayer was written as a way to conduct church services when the Act of Uniformity in 1549 prevented Latin mass from occurring in England. These wedding vows were part of the book. So, I understand what you mean but Paul’s description is more of a guide to me. People need to discern and definitely follow their gut not just what a vow says or what anyone says to be true regarding what love is or isn’t.

        1. lickemtomorrow says:

          Wensical, perhaps we are talking about different things, since you mention “vows”.

          I was talking about the Scripture reading from 1 Corinthians vs 4-8 used at weddings and quoted by you more or less verbatim. It’s often used as one of the readings at a wedding ceremony. So, not as part of the vows, but as part of ceremony.

          Vows, and wedding ceremonies, are conducted in such a variety of ways these days and there is a great deal of flexibility around them depending on what the couple themselves decide to do. There is no doubt some may come from the Book of Common Prayer for those marrying in the Anglican Church or tradition.

          St.Paul’s description is a guide, I agree, and one to be used wisely.

          1. wensical says:

            LET, you are correct people do use Paul’s definition in wedding ceremonies. I tend to think of the most common wedding vow that people use is the one for richer or for poorer and for better or for worse etc; but actually this really isn’t from the Bible. There really isn’t anywhere in the Bible that states people said vows to each other. Many vows are based on biblical principals that’s all and they are fashioned accordingly by the couple. I totally agree with you about using Paul’s definition wisely. Absolutely! It could be used to manipulate someone who may be susceptible. Just like so many other things a toxic person/narcissist might try to twist and misconstrue it’s meaning!

            Ugh! So glad I’m not in that place any longer with my ex!

          2. lickemtomorrow says:

            Wensical, I never really thought about the vows used during the service and whether they were ‘biblical’ or based on something from the Bible. You’ve given me some food for thought. They’ve obviously grown out of biblical principles, as you say, and the one that seems to be a particular sticking point these days is ‘obey’. The narcissists would love that one (i.e. control). The Holy Narcissist becomes ever more apparent when we look at some of these things and how they can be used and abused. You are right when you say they “twist and miscontrue” the meaning and they do this with so many things, which is how they manipulate. What was meant for good is turned into bad by the narcissist. They can make the world a very ugly place.

            I’m glad, too, not be in that place any longer and hope neither of us end up there again x

        2. wensical says:

          Oh and HG, I think you may need some Zofran after reading some of these comments. So, if you’d like, I can send you some!

          I think you would benefit more from an intramuscular dose! Right in the tush! 💉
          Compliments of nurse Wendy 😉😂

      2. A Victor says:

        LET, yes, without the balance of the passages about bad people that we are to avoid in play, abuse of these is easy. And even then, if those “bad people” are your own parents doing one thing and saying another, very confusing, very easy to effectively use this love passage in an abusive manner.

        1. lickemtomorrow says:

          AV, I thought Wensical was right to point out the passage as being one way of understanding what love is, and how we can know it also – by actions and not just words. The problem with our parents is that they said one thing while doing another which is the remit of the narcissist. It’s not possible for a child to untangle these mixed messages and have them make sense. We rely on our parents and have to somehow hold that cognitive dissonance all the while knowing something does not feel right. Makes me think of HG’s article recently posted here again. As children there is little or nothing we can do, except maybe hope for an intervention that destroys the dissonance. My first grade teacher helped destroy the dissonance for me. Even though it was only temporary, the effects were lasting.

          The misuse of these passages is an abuse and one that the narcissist will use quite handily, so I was looking at it from that perspective. You are correct in mentioning the ‘balancing out’ that is needed, and which is also given, so that it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. It’s like the unpleasant truths we are handed here – our one chance to avoid what needs to be avoided for our own sake x

        2. wensical says:

          Agree! 💯

    3. A Victor says:

      Hi Wensical,

      I have known Paul’s definition of life since I was young, and lived it toward other people without always understanding that’s what I wear doing, even toward the narcs in my life. It wasn’t until I arrived here that I put it into practical terms, on heating HG’s definition of love, and then realized I’d been loving all along but not everyone has been actually loving me back! But it was still quite amazing to put the practical with the spiritual, so to speak. I see this passage through new eyes since being here. Thank you for your comment, really great.

      1. wensical says:

        Hello AV, I know that I have a hard time living up to the type of love Paul talks about. It is a very high bar for people to achieve. Especially with all of our emotional thinking and relying mostly on how we feel. It is something I want to strive to achieve for myself towards all people not just intimate partners. It is hard, we are human!

        I absolutely agree with you 💯 that coming here and learning the practical knowledge from HG about what love is and isn’t and how to spot fake love that plays on our emotional thinking and feelings. Putting the spiritual and practical knowledge together and we have a powerful weapon in our arsenal!

        Thanks for your response. 😊

        1. A Victor says:

          Wensical, great point, no one does it perfectly, but I think for empaths it does come more naturally even when we’re not aware that we’re doing it, we just aren’t going to routinely abuse people. Yes, a powerful weapon, very much so. I appreciate your comments here a lot.

          1. wensical says:

            Thank you AV, I appreciate you. 😊

      2. A Victor says:

        Paul’s definition of love**.

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  9. Rebecca says:


    I’m sorry, didn’t answer the question…How do I know how to love? Strange,but true… childhood dog taught me unconditional, sacrificing love because he protected me a few times and endangered himself…my dad taught me fatherly, protective love. I’ve had friends who taught me loyal and platonic love. Love comes in many forms and it doesn’t have to be harsh or painful, the right love is neither of those two things. Love is patient, love is kind….love isn’t taught, it’s felt. It’s experienced in the heart, the mind and lights up the soul.

    1. Asp Emp says:

      Great comment, Rebecca 🙂

      1. wensical says:

        I agree that love is felt but trust me when I say it is much more than that. My feelings mislead me all the time. I got myself in to that horrible situation with my ex based on my wonderful feelings. I trust the actions of a person much more than how they make me feel. I trust my instinct. Feelings come and go and change like the weather. No, from now on I will trust my gut and rational thinking!

        1. Asp Emp says:

          Wensical, thank you for your response. Yes, we may have learned our own versions of a ‘love is a taught construct’ from our parents / carers. When it has been understood (ie via HG’s work here), ET / LT can be looked at differently and ‘free’ up so that one’s instincts / intuition is not so ‘clouded’. Yes, I agree. Listen to your instincts 🙂

          1. wensical says:

            Absolutely Asp Emp! I’m hoping I trust my gut and can see and not ignore the red flags in the future. Thankful for HG and everything I have learned and continue to learn here!

        2. Rebecca says:


          Trust me, I know what you mean. My ex husband was an abusive borderline personality disorder/narcissist and I stayed with him for seven years. It took him almost killing me one night for me to reach the end of my tolerance. I had been married to him less than a year,but the relationship was seven years too long. I should have left him before my dumbass even married him. I’m sorry, I get mad at myself when I do stupid things….anyway, I should have listened to my dad, my friends etc and left him years before. I was lucky I talked him out of going off the cliff. A night I won’t ever forget. Yeah, he never loved me, you don’t hurt people you love repeatedly.

          1. wensical says:

            Hi Rebecca, thank you for sharing that. I’m sorry that happened to you! You are obviously pretty smart to be able to talk someone out of a situation like that. I guess we are given the ability to do what we need to in times of trauma or life and death situations.

            Feelings are definitely important especially when they come from a place of instinct and warning! I just don’t ever want to be ruled by my emotions to the point that I fall victim again. I hope this doesn’t harden me too much. I want a healthy balance!

            I’m glad you were savvy enough to get out of that situation! I work with people who are psychotic ( no, not my coworkers, lol) as a nurse in mental health and know the seriousness of what can happen.

      2. Rebecca says:

        Thanks Asp Emp 🙃❤

    2. lickemtomorrow says:

      Rebecca, that was very beautifully said and well described.

      I agree, love is an experience which in many ways can’t be described, but it will be felt “in the heart, mind and light up the soul.”

      Thank you for sharing those very well constructed thoughts.

      1. Rebecca says:

        Thanks lickemtomorrow and you’re welcome 🙃❤

  10. Rebecca says:

    I’m sorry you were taught what love was in harsh and painful ways. I wish you were taught the correct way. This saddens me, but also makes me mad on your behalf. If punching them in the nose made it better, I would do it. Unfortunately punching never made things better, it might make you feel better, temporarily…..but, still doesn’t work to resolve anything. I hope somehow,some way you find some peace from the pain.

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