What is Love?

Ingredients of Love

Each of the following ingredients is necessary for love, for if you feel the lack of any one, you will be dissatisfied. To the degree that both persons feel satisfied with all seven elements, they will at that moment have achieved the consummate relationship. Why these elements? From the works on love by great philosophers and psychologists in addition to interviews with a non-random sample of long-term couples and people in other relationships, these elements in some form emerged as critical to a nurturing and loving relationship. These ingredients are necessary for love relationships that are non-romantic, as well. Every close relationship has the capacity to grow, whether it is between loving partners, friends, or a parent and a child.

Affection (A): Feelings are demonstrated to you in ways appropriate to the relationship. A child will show you affection differently than your spouse or loved one would. Normal human beings require touch and signs of fondness. Babies need to be touched and held in order to thrive. Affection can be expressed through touch, tone of voice, glances, acts of kindness and thoughtfulness.

"We can live without religion and meditation, but we cannot survive without human affection."

Tenzin Gyatso (14th Dalai Lama)

Respect (R): You are accepted and valued for the person you are intrinsically and holistically, not just for how you benefit your loved one. You are respected because your loved one cares about your values, interests, and choices, even if they have different ones. For example, if you question a choice your loved one made, does he listen seriously and consider your reasons openly?

"When men & women are able to respect and accept their differences then love has a chance to blossom."

John Gray (British Philosopher)

Admiration (AD): You admire your loved one for qualities that you yourself would like to have. You see the one you love as exemplifying a quality or combination of qualities that you value or hold in high regard. For example, the child you love may have a quick wit or a sensitivity to other people that makes you see her as special. A loved one may have the insight to make you realize something about yourself. You might admire the gracious way that your loved one deals with other people. Some qualities that we admire are ones we do not or cannot possess. Admiration presupposes that you see the person as other, as separate from you, for if you do not, you are seeing the person as an extension of yourself, not as they are.

"Love is the admiration and cherishing of the amiable qualities of the beloved person, upon the condition of yourself being the object of their action."

Samuel Taylor Coleridge (British Poet)

Empowerment (E): Your loved one wants to bring out what they believe could be, the best in you. (S)he wants you to attain the autonomy you need to achieve your goals and to be psychologically free to pursue your desires without interference from obsessions fears, or unhealthy internal conflicts. This does not mean that (s)he is trying to change you to meet their standards or fulfill their goals, but rather that they understand your standards and goals and want to help you meet them. For example, parents who love their children want them to become their best; they do not want their kids to be trapped by the same fears or concerns that trouble them. If your child loves playing the piano, do you try to find out about different teachers and educational approaches, and then find the best you can afford to give them? Do you take the child (or loved one) to concerts that you yourself would not go to otherwise? If you feel that your loved one has lost his moral compass, do you try to help him reclaim it? A person who truly loves another tries to help the other achieve his goals so that he feels fulfilled.

"The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed."

Carl Jung (Swiss Psychologist)

Loyalty (L): Your loved one is in your corner. You can count on them to be there for you. They strive to defend you against assaults from the external world, such as gossip, unfair treatment, criticism and life's problems. Moreover, you're confident that your loved one is trying to reciprocate the emotions you are giving. Loyalty is related to empowerment in that being loyal involves your loved one supporting and not undermining your mastery in the world, just as empowerment involves helping you have self-mastery.

Confucius (Chinese Philosopher)

Intimacy (I): You exist in an emotionally safe and private place in which you express feelings or thoughts that your loved one would not share in other arenas. You cannot imagine your loved one telling your secrets to others. If your loved one has a criticism of you, they express it only in private. Intimacy is an important ingredient of love because it creates a unique bond in a relationship that is unique and exclusive to those two people.

"Love consists in this, that two solitudes protect and touch and greet each other."

Rainer Maria Rilke (Swiss Poet)

Appreciation (AP): You take pleasure in being with the one you love, and this pleasure makes you feel improved by the relationship. You want to be with your loved one and loving them makes you feel like a better human being. You want to spend time with this person. You want this person to be happy. For example, a parent might enjoy watching his child discovering and enjoying things, whether it's watching ants on the sidewalk or getting his college diploma. We also appreciate and are gratified when someone likes being with us. A father may feel that loving his child makes him more patient, more responsible, more in control of his emotions or impulses. He feels gratified that his child has fun being with him, while they do things together. A man who is color-blind might enjoy accompanying his girlfriend to a museum where she gets absorbed in a painter's use of color and brushstroke. He takes pleasure in how she relishes the artworks and also in his own ability to appreciate her sensitivity.

"Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well."

Voltaire (French Philosopher)

The logic of Omadamo is that we have to strive constantly to maintain the connection. A relationship is dynamic and must respond to the inevitable changes that life brings. For example, if a breadwinner loses a job, the other partner may have to work harder to show affection and more creatively to empower the other. Or, if an older parent becomes disabled, it may require a loving adult child to find new ways of showing empowerment and appreciation. Alternatively, a partner who becomes highly successful must continue to make the loved one feel admired and appreciated.