Loving too much

It is probably impossible to love any human being simply 'too much.'  We may love him too much in proportion to our love for God; but it is the smallness of our love for God, not the greatness of our love for the man, that constitutes the inordinacy.

But even this must be refined upon. Otherwise we shall trouble some who are very much on the right road but alarmed because they cannot feel towards God so warm a sensible emotion as they feel for the earthly Beloved. It is much to be wished--at least I think so--that we all, at all times, could. We must pray that this gift should be given us. But the question whether we are loving God or the earthly Beloved "more" is not, so far as concerns our Christian duty, a question about the comparative intensity of the two feelings. The real question is, which (when the alternative comes) do you serve, or choose, to put first? To which claim does your will, in the last resort, yield?

CS Lewis, The Four Loves

Dependency in Marriage

Dependency may appear to be love because it is a force that causes people to fiercely attach themselves to one another. But in actuality it is not love; it is a form of antilove. It has its genesis in a parental failure to love and it perpetuates the failure. It seeks to receive rather than to give. It nourished infantilism rather than growth. It works to trap and constrict rather than to liberate.

For passive dependent people the loss of the other is such a frightening prospect that they cannot face preparing for it or tolerating a process that would diminish the dependency or increase the freedom of the other. Consequently it is one of the behavioral hallmarks of passive dependent people in marriage that their role differentiations is rigid, and they seek to increase rather than diminish mutual dependency so as to make marriage more rather than less of a trap. By so doing, in the name of what they call love but what is really dependency, they diminish their own and each other’s freedom and stature.

M Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled

What dependent people want

Dependency is unconcerned with spiritual growth. Dependent people are interested in their own nourishment, but no more; they desire filling, they desire to be happy; they don’t desire to grow, nor are they willing to tolerate the unhappiness, the loneliness and suffering involved in growth. Neither do dependent people care about the spiritual growth of the other, the object of their dependency; they care only that the other is there to satisfy them.

M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled

I can't live without you

The second most common misconception about love is the idea that dependency is love. Its effect is seem most dramatically in an individual who makes an attempt or gesture or threat to commit suicide or who becomes incapacitating depressed in response to a rejection or separation from a spouse or over.

Such a person says, “I do not want to live, I cannot live without my husband (wife, girlfriend, boyfriend), I love him (or her) so much.” And when I respond, as I frequently do, “You are mistaken; you don not love your husband (wife, girlfriend, boyfriend).” “What do you mean?” is the angry question. “I just told you I can’t live without him (or her).” I try to explain. “What you describe is parasitism, not love. When you require another individual for your survival, you are a parasite on that individual. There is no choice, no freedom involved in your relationship. It is a matter of necessity rather than love. Love is the free exercise of choice. Two people love each other only when they are quite capable of living without each other but choose to live with each other.

M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled

Projecting ourselves onto others

Large numbers of American soldier had idyllic marriages to German, Italian or Japanese “war brides” (after World War II) with whom they could not verbally communicate. But when their brides learned English, the marriages began to fall apart. The servicemen could then no longer project upon their wives their own thoughts, feelings, desires and goals and feel the same sense of closeness one feels with a pet. Instead, as their wives learned English, the men began to realize that these women had ideas, opinions and aims different from their own. As this happened, love began to grow for some; for most, perhaps, it ceased.

The liberated woman is right to beware of the man who affectionately calls her his “pet.” He many indeed be an individual whose affection is dependent upon her being a pet, who lacks the capacity to respect her strength, independence and individuality.

Probably the most saddening example of this phenomenon is the very large number of women who are capable of “loving” their children only as infants.

As soon as a child begins to assert its own will- to disobey, to whine, to refuse to play, to occasionally reject being cuddled, to attach itself to other people, to move out into the world a little bit on its own – the mother’s love cease… At the same time, she will often feel an almost overpowering need to be pregnant again, to have another infant, another pet. Usually she will succeed, and the cycle is repeated.

The point is that nurturing can be and usually should be much more than simple feeding, and that nurturing spiritual growth is an infinitely more complicated process than can be directed by any instinct.

M Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled

Pet love

We don’t keep pets around very long when they protest or fight back against us. The only school to which we send our pets for the development of their minds or spirits is obedience school. Yet it is possible for us to desire that other humans develop a “will of their own;” indeed, it is this desire for the differentiation for the other that is one of the characteristics of genuine love.

In our relationship with pets we seek to foster their dependency. We do not want them to grow up and leave home. We want them to stay put, to lie dependably near the hearth. It is their attachment to us rather than their independence from us that we value in our pets.

This matter of the “love” of pets is of immense import because many, many people are capable of “loving” only pets and incapable of genuinely loving other human beings.

M Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled

Putting yourself out of business

The proper aim of giving is to put the recipient in a state where he no longer needs our gift. We feed children in order that they soon be able to feed themselves; we teach them in order that they may soon not need our teaching. The hour when we can say “They need me no longer” should be our reward.

My own profession – that of a university teacher – is in this way dangerous. If we are any good we must always be working towards the moment at which our pupils are fit to become our critics and rivals. We should be delighted when it arrives, as the fencing master is delighted when his pupil can pink and disarm him. Any many are. But not all.

CS Lewis
The Four Loves