Sunday, April 5, 2009

Is love self centred?

Can there be a love without expectation in all human relationships? Is there an element of quid pro quo governing these? When you confer love on someone, is there something that you expect in return? Is the love of a parent for the children unconditional or with expectation of a reciprocal love from the children? I believe that there is an unstated expectation of a return of love immediately and certainly when they grow old. People may not concede but there is hardly any love without some consideration. Even the love of a husband for his wife is tinged with self interest. His love for her is in expectation of his happiness that her company gives. Even the caress, hug or a kiss is more for the happiness to self than a demonstration of love towards the other. Deny the opportunity of a physical touch, stop giving what he wants and behave in a manner different from his expectations, the love would gradually fade and may possibly move elsewhere. It may be crude to say in most cases that all love is self based and is in direct proportion to the happiness derived.This applies to both sides. I read somewhere that it is like rearing poultry. The feeding of the birds, the care taken to prevent them falling from disease are all motivated by the eggs they are likely give or as chicken for eating at the table. The poor birds may be thinking that the master loves them while he is in actual fact self centred. Can we find men and women who love each other for their own sake even if one of them has nothing but inadequacies like in accomplishments, looks, conversational skills, even though good natured?.How long would such marriages last in the present day times? Some may last more out of sense of duty or societal compulsions than motivated purely by love.
The same is true where the old parents have nothing to give by way of help physically or monetarily. The children in most cases drive them away. How do we explain the phenomenon of burgeoning poor and old age homes? Some keep them out of a sense of duty or fear of what others may think of them but treat them miserably without a tinge of affection. In such cases, there is the absence of love. This is not to deny that there are grateful children who take care of the old parents out of a sense gratitude for all they have done. The burden of this article is to express the view that love for others is mostly self-centred for the happiness derived by self –which could be simple companionship as in friends,physical intimacy as in married couples,material benefits as from spouses, parents and siblings, physical help and support from others .Take away this happiness, the love may not be of same intensity. Even love towards God is in anticipation of grant of wishes through prayers and has a trace of awe and fear than unalloyed love
I would expect readers to post their views freely on this controversial post


  1. The article makes one think deeper about the subject. Its true to a great extend that love most of the times is self centred.. but true love too exists.. the fact is that we discover true love only after a period of time.

  2. A certain type and degree of expectations is natural and healthy. For example, if I love someone I can hope to be loved in return. In a marriage or friendship, demonstation of love is necessary as, otherwise, we feel that love from the other side has ceased to be.

    In most cases of "love", the emotion is usually not deep and looks for 'better' 'options'; or, as you have said, people stay together out of a sense of duty or because of some compulsion or dependency.

    As Sindhu (in the first comment)has said, true, unselfish love exists, although it is very rare.
    However, will you tell me one thing? Where there is true love in a marriage or a friendship, why do people find it so difficult to accept or even acknowledge it? It hurts the one who is, was and will be true.

    An extremely thought-provoking, although heart-breaking, post. Has brought tears in my eyes. Could identify with the points brought up...

    What I believe is that the final message is always positive; no matter how much pain and falsehood we have to bear, deep within our soul, we know that true love and pure joy are realities. God Himself has spoken these words in my heart.

    Thanks, Parthasarathi...May God always be with you.

    Your fan and friend,

  3. Definitely, your post makes us to question ourselves sir...I certainly agree with your strong and truthful statements. But I think true love does exists. Mostly we create relationships based on our needs only. As you have rightly said, when we don't behave as others expects certainly a problem arises. The same is true with us also...but that is not LOVE those are needs, we have to accept the TRUTH that it is not LOVE... BECAUSE TRUE LOVE SIMPLY DON'T EXPECT ANYTHING IN RETURN...IF THERE IS EXPECTATION THEN IT IS NOT LOVE AT ALL.

    In this world only a GURU'S LOVE IS TRUE LOVE...a disciple or a devotee can do nothing back to Him nor does he expects anything from us. It's out of GRACE and LOVE, PURE UNALLOYED LOVE, He cares for us. ALL GURUS COME UNDER THIS...FROM JESUS TO SAIBABA TO RAMANA MAHARISHI..

    And about our love to GOD, though initially we expect a lot from GOD( please leave aside the devotion for GOD for materialistic needs), as we gradually progress in the spiritual path, there comes a stage when we don't expect anything from HIM/HER... I think great saints, for example, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa had pure love to Mother Kali...His love was so pure and intense that he was willing to die for anything for Her...That is PURE LOVE...Even Mother Therasa's love for the poor and needy was pure...the examples are many...

    A MOTHER'S love for a child also falls into this category, but there are exceptions...

    I think untill we have needs, desires, expectations, our love cannot be pure...This is my opinion sir, what do you think about it?

    Personally, your post had made me to introspect myself sir...I'm thankful for that.

  4. True love does exist. It depends on how mature the one who shows love is.

    As Mani said the love of GURU to his disciple and this world is totally unconditional because he has nothing to get back.

    The more we mature the more loving we can become. We know both husbands and wives who never married after the demise of their spouses.

    Even in my life there have been a few love failures[he.. he... a little too much :)]. I always prayed that those girls must get good
    husbands and lead a happy life.

  5. Love is selfish and why not coz on the other side its selfless aswell. Why cant one expect something in return from the one we love. We love God and he listens to our parents. We may love a human being with all our heart , nurture the relationship and if he/she dosen't respond it hurts, coz we are human beings. We do forgive but forgetting is a tough job.
    love is 90% selfless and 10%, selfish....coz thats the way we are.

  6. Love in any form is always expecting reciprocity without which the intensity diminishes over a period especially when dependent parents of old age with physical disabilities or health problems are forced to spend their last days with children.Their tolerence limits are also stretched beyond limits in both directions as youngsters are not at fault always,but the society always look at it in one way only.

    The homes for the senior citizen are a boon to many parents in the present times especially when they can afford such a life style.

  7. look at you ..
    that's been a cut above the rest .. and why not? when dealing with love in any format rouses human interest ... and the long comments above prove it.

    some of the questions you have raised here have always been a big question mark for me as well .. and i must say, i belive, blood-love is mostly conditional..!! i maybe wrong, you can give your verdict. :-)

    look at that pict you have there, doesnt it convey the message? for me it does. you cant touch or be touched until ... yes .. there you go

  8. Dear appa,
    I feel even though you say that true love does not expect anything in return dont you feel that expecting a reciprocal of the enormous love that you give is not a vice. All that one asks is that some measure of the love is given back. Like a rocky seashore buffeted constantly by waves a person on the receiving end of the love will soon get eroded if he does not buffer himself by giving some love back. One of your readers mentioned that true love is given by a guru.But even a Guru be it Baba,your teacher and your spiritual guru expects the disciple ,to return the love by being a good student,following his Guru's ideals,principles and way of life.Love can be selfcentred but not selfish.Love should always be reciprocal and not a one way traffic. The river of love should always keep flowing to remain clear and fresh and not end in a stagnant pool

  9. Partha, I strongly feel that Unconditional Love is the only kind of Love that can be called 'Love', be it for an offspring, or spouse or family or friend.That kind of Love doesn't wear off;it doesn't fade;it doesn't faze!
    It'll stand the test of Time and Fate. Whether the Loved One is wrong or right you still love; you still feel;you are there forever. No matter what may be the consequence your heart will always beat with the rhythm of unconditional love for your Loved One!That which is not unconditional cannot be called 'Love'.

  10. I believe you can love others only if you love yourself first. To make yourself happy, you do various things - including love others, be it parents, spouse, kids, friends. That doesn't mean you are self-centred. But yes, you are selfish. So being self-centred is bad, but being selfish is good, according to me.
    Maybe, all love starts with expectations. After sometime, in good relationships, expectations come down, a certain detachment happens, still love remains.
    Detachment without losing love is a important in many relationships, especially in parent-child ones.