the aim of genuine love

Parents who say to their children, “You should be grateful for all that we have done for you” are invariably parents who are lacking in love to a significant degree. Anyone who genuinely loves knows the pleasure of loving. When we genuinely love we do so because we want to love. We have children because we want to have children, and if we are loving parents, it is because we want to be loving parents. It is true that love involves a change in the self, but this is an extension of the self rather than a sacrifice of the self. As will be discussed again later, genuine love is a self-replenishing activity. Indeed, it is even more; it enlarges rather than diminishes the self; it fills the self rather than depleting it. In a real sense love is as selfish as nonlove.

Here again there is a paradox in that love is both selfish and unselfish at the same time. It is not the selfishness or unselfishness that distinguishes love from nonlove; it is the aim of the action. In the case of genuine love the aim is always spiritual growth. In the case of nonlove the aim is always something else.

M Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled