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Genuine Love is Selfish

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  • Genuine Love is Selfish


    For 2,000 years we in the west have heard that genuine love is unselfish. You should “think of others, and not of yourself”. A man who loves his wife is not doing it for his own sake, we hear. He does not love his wife because it makes him happy to sleep with her. His love is, if it is genuine, “spiritual, unselfish and pure", not “of the flesh, selfish and base.

    But is love unselfish?Can love even be unselfish?

    Well, try to project what it would mean to love another person, without being “self-interested”.

    You meet a woman. She is fat. She has pimples. Her clothes are dirty and unkempt. You feel no attraction to her at all.

    But you pity her. You think “According to the Christians and the socialists I should concern myself with other people´s happiness, and not with my own. I should sacrifice myself in order to make other people happy. I should “lift up” those who have fallen low. This woman does not care. She does not bother to make herself attractive to a man like me. So I should help her. I shall give her assistance. I will tell her that I love her. I will be kind to her. I will be unselfish. I will place her happiness before my own. I shall give her a happy life, without having any selfish motive. I will be a good human being, according to the altruist conception of the good.”

    So you take this woman out to dinner. You give her flowers. You whisper pretty words in her ear. You date her. Eventually you propose to her. And she does not realize that you are being unselfish. She takes it for granted that you would not propose to her unless you really did want to marry her, because she made you happy. So she answers “Yes” to your proposal.

    You get married. You are not happy. You are barely able to make love to your new wife, since it does not give you any pleasure to sleep with her. You feel that each day you spend with her is a bore. You begin to get depressed. But you keep pretending that your wife makes you happy. You keep up a front. Because you want her to be happy.

    What do you think will happen? Your unselfish “love” will not bring about anything good. Sooner or later your wife will realize that you married her only because you pitied her, and because you wanted to make her happy. Do you think that she will thank you when she discovers the truth? No, she will damn you to hell. She will think that you were a filthy swine when you did what you did to her. Her heart will break.

    You see? “Unselfish love” is an impossibility. Now, you may say “No, it was not theunselfishness which was the problem in the scenario above, but merely thefalseness anddishonesty”. But the fact is that “unselfish love” per se cannot be anything other than a lie. Because selfishness is an inseparable part of all love. To love another person is one of the most selfish acts which any man can carry out.

    When a man loves a woman, he cares for her because her happiness means everything for his own happiness. A man who loves his wife, is devastated and full of sorrow if his wife develops cancer, or dies in a fire or develops Alzheimers. These examples illustrate the principle that when you love your partner, your partner´s welfare becomes vital to your own happiness.

    The Christians and the socialists devalue and despise love when they say that it ought to be “unselfish”. To choose a man or woman to be the one who means more for your own happiness than any other human being other than yourself, is to confer a priceless honor on that man or woman. But to say to a man or woman “I love you without having any personal stake in your welfare. My happiness does not in any way depend on yours. I love you without any self-interest. I do not become happier when you become happy. My happiness does not increase when yours does.” – does that sound right? No, to say something like that is to drag love through the mud.

    No, when two human beings love one another each of them becomes happier when the other one does. Love is an expression of mutual self-interest. When you love another your own happiness becomes intimately intertwined with your loved one´s happiness. Your own happiness comes to depend to an enormous degree on your loved one´s happiness. That is why a man or woman often is willing to give his or her life for the loved one´s sake. A selfish man safeguards the things which he values. So when a man risks his life to save the life of his wife, for example if she is drowning, he is demonstrating that he is selfish and that his wife is one of the few values which he ranks as equally important as life itself.

    If a man values an antique car which he owns, he may show it by means of the extensive care which he bestows on the car for the sake of his own happiness. He may spend several hours every Saturday waxing and polishing the car. He washes the windows of the car carefully. He spends thousands of dollars every year to keep the car in great condition. In a similar way the man may demonstrate his love for his wife, when he bestows lavish attention on her for the sake of his own happiness. He takes her out to romantic dinners. He gives her flowers. He spends thousands of dollars buying her beautiful clothes and jewelry. He gives her tender kisses and caresses when she wakes every morning. The only difference between the man´s love for his antique car and his wife is that his love for her is much greater than his love for the car. Many men would give their life for their woman´s sake, but there is hardly any man who would give his life for the sake of his antique car!

    The philosopher Ayn Rand expressed this principle in an economic way in the novel The Fountainhead. One of the heroes says in that novel – “In order to say `I love you´ you must first be able to say `I´”.

    The philosophic principle here is that a value presupposes a valuer - i.e. a subject for which the value isgood. A man or a woman cannot be a value, cannot be loved, unless there is a woman or man for whom he or she is a value. In order to love somebody else, you must yourself get some value from the love - otherwise the love will not mean anything to you. A “disinterested love” is a contradiction in terms.

    So genuine love cannot be anything but selfish.

    Senior Member
    Last edited by henriku; 01-26-2020, 06:27 AM.