We can love anyone or anything, but usually this differs between people depending on our relationship to them. For example, our love towards our family can be different from our friends and it can even vary between family members and friends. Recently, this has prompted me to consider how I actually love people, and what the criteria for love are.
Firstly, I thought about the love within families. I realised that a lot of the time we love our family unconditionally as we usually do not get to choose who our family are. Even for parents there was a choice of whether to have children, but then what that child will be like is completely out of their control. However not many parents would say that they do not love their child because they’re not as clever or good looking as they had hoped. We love our families because that is who they are, and no matter what they do they will always be our family.
Secondly, I looked into the love between friends. This was a more difficult group as we have many types of friends which vary from aquaintances to best friends, therefore within this group there are also many types of love. Sometimes we even love one friend very differently to another even though we are just as close to both parties.
I found that our love towards our friends can sometimes be very similar to the love we show to our family, hence why some people would call some of their friends ‘family’. For these people, they will often love their closest friends unconditionally as if they were actually their family and so will most likely remain friends with them for life or for a very long time.
I will include the love in boy/girl relationships within the love between friends, because we are able to choose who we want our partner to be as well. I mentioned earlier that we usually do not get to choose who our family are, however with our husband or wife it is one of the only times we actually have a choice (adopting children is the only other time as far as I know). This is something that I feel I have to get right, as it will have a knock-on effect down my family-tree and could be the only time I get to choose a specific person to officially call my family. However I have seen with some married couples that over time they become less close than they were at one point. This could be due to many reasons but it is something that I fear might happen with me in the future as well.
Finally, I will also include the love we have for materialistic things. This love is usually short-lived unless the item has a sentimental value. However if an item has sentimental value would that mean we love it because we love the person or people who gave it the sentiment in the first place? What I find with my love for materialistic things, especially technological products, is that I truly treasure it the moment I get it and perhaps a couple of months after; but over time when it begins to get worn and newer, more improved versions come out, then my love for the product diminishes and I forget why I liked it so much in the first place. Unfortunately I feel like this statement can also be applied to some marriages and relationships, and could be one of the reasons why some couples become less close over time.
I feel like I have still not answered my question on how to love, especially on what the minimum criteria of love is (if there even is one), but I have realised that there is not a set method or criteria of love no matter who we are trying to love. I think loving people is usually something that we can do naturally, and so perhaps trying to find out how we do it is futile as we all know how to anyway.