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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Love between men and women, and love for family and friends, is often possessive, exclusive, limited, and mixed with selfish feelings. There's an expectation of getting back at least as much as one gives.

Such love might seem quite deep, but it easily vanishes if it doesn't live up to expectations. What's more, the sort of love we feel for those close to us is often accompanied by a feeling of distance, or even hostility toward 'strangers', those who could pose a threat to ourselves and to those we love.

True love and true compassion can be extended to our adversaries, while love and compassion mixed with attachment can't include anyone we see as an enemy.

[...] true love can't be polarized, restricted to one or two specific beings, or contaminated with partiality. What's more, it should be completely disinterested and not expect anything in return.

Love, here, means total, unconditional love for all beings without any distinction or partiality.

One of the principal topics for meditation is to begin by thinking of someone you love deeply, and letting that feeling of love and generosity fill your heart and mind. Then you break out of the cage that restricts that love to a particular person and extend it to all those for whom your feelings are neutral or indifferent. Finally, you include in your love all those you consider as enemies. That's true love.

[Matthieu Ricard]
The Monk and the Philosopher, p.193-4

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Rights and Responsibilities
Love Your Self
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