One Love?

Love is not primarily "caused" by a specific object, but a lingering quality in a person which is only actualized by a certain "object".

Hatred is a passionate wish for destruction; love is a passionate affirmation of an "object"; it is not an "affect" but an active striving and inner relatedness, the aim of which is the happiness, growth, and freedom of its object. It is a readiness which, in principle, can turn to any person and object including ourselves.

Exclusive love is a contradiction in itself. To be sure, it is not accidental that a certain person becomes the "object" of manifest love [...] The important point, however, is that love for a particular "object" is only the actualization and concentration of lingering love with regard to one person; it is not, as the idea of romantic love would have it, that there is only the one person in the world whom one can love, that it is the great chance of one's life to find that person, and that love for him results in a withdrawal from all others.

The kind of love which can only be experienced with regard to one person demonstrates by this very fact that it is not love but a sado-masochistic attachment.

The basic affirmation contained in love is directed towards the beloved person as an incarnation of essentially human qualities. Love for one person implies love for man as such.

Love for man as such is not, as it is frequently supposed to be, an abstraction coming "after" the love for a specific person, or an enlargement of the experience with a specific "object"; it is its premise, although, genetically, it is acquired in the contact with concrete individuals.

From this it follows that my own self, in principle, is as much an object of my love as another person. The affirmation of my own life, happiness, growth, freedom, is rooted in the presence of the basic readiness of and ability for such an affirmation. If an individual has this readiness, he has it also towards himself; if he can only "love" others, he cannot love at all.

[Erich Fromm]
The Fear of Freedom, p.98-100

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