What is Love?
A universal force for good? Something you feel you receive from the universe or God? Something in your family? Something between two people?
Love is by its very nature, a complicated multi-meaning “trap word”, that every person understands in a different way, making talking about it a complicated task.
While it varies from person to person, two things that are always true.
- Love is a chaotic force
You may not like your parents, siblings, high school crush or ex, but you can love them. There is no logic, just raw feelings. It’s pure chaos in The Game of Self that is very hard to manage consciously.
- Love is an outgoing force
This is why it’s so difficult to truly love yourself. Love is always pointed outwards, a truly selfless giving force. The more beauty you have inside, the more you can share via Love.
In this post, we’ll only talk about the outgoing Love in your heart. If you feel loved by God or the universe, that’s another feeling entirely that can potentially help in your Game of Self, especially if you struggle with it. If you are loved by another person, it’s your feeling about it that matters because that’s all you’ve got. If you respond, your Love will not be the same as the other person’s, it will be an entirely different thing. This brings us to the conclusion that:
- Romantic love should not be regarded as something between two people because it’s asymmetrical by nature. A much more realistic picture is of you loving each other independently. The strength, depth and exact mix of feelings are never the same.
Like with all trap words, we’ll have to clarify. There are four types of love:
- Love as a concept
- Love in biology
- Higher Love
In The Game of Self there is only one person around. You.
You may not like everything about yourself and try to improve and be self-critical to a healthy extent. But this is not the point. Liking and Loving are different things. You need a reason to like. Love may happen for no reason at all.
You’re stuck with yourself forever. Any attempt to escape (eg. drugs) is very dangerous so it is what it is. You are in a relationship with You until you die.
You can imagine your brain is like a prison in which you’re both the prisoner and the guard. The two versions of you can be friends and turn the prison into whatever you both wish, leave it together for walks and come back to have parties and grow old watching the sunset together in harmony.
Or you can hate each other. While not being able to run away from each other. Which is sad and self-harming.
The sooner you develop Self-Love, the better everything is. The good part is it’s naturally easier to love someone who is… always around.
True Love comes with understanding, forgiveness and no expectations. It just lets things be.
It’s natural and flourishes on its own when you don’t have too many fears, shame and guilt (its killers). So to make it happen, face and fight the killers and make space for it. It will come.
Self-Love is a rarely pure, deeply internal concept that does not have anything at all to do with The Game of Life.
No external validation is needed. No achievements. No comparisons. No actions. No expectations. No thoughts even… Just the feeling you are worthy of life.
Everyone deserves this feeling, everyone should know it exists and they deserve it, and hopefully… everyone should have it.
It’s the center of your Game of Self. Because there isn’t a single another thing not connected to it.
If you want to briefly experience how it feels to love and be loved, it’s as simple as kissing your own shoulder.
Love as a concept
It’s often useful to refer to Love as a concept that unites us. A force for good, freedom from fear which makes us superhuman. When all our inertia and barriers are gone and we achieve anything possible in The Game of Life with ease and harmony, like rolling a stone downhill.
The concept of Love is present in the better part of the building blocks of life, which result when you add in the fundamental cosmic forces, Chaos and Structure.
Chaos + Love result in a beautiful mess of Inspiration, Motivation and Creativity. A very Hunter move inducing mix. An unstoppable driving force for creation and sharing.
Structure + Love result in building the best structures that last. All of science and technology is a result of mixing Love with Structure. Take one away and truth-seeking falls apart. A preserving force.
Intuition is the key bridge between the two. It needs the freedom of Chaos to work. But also the foundational truth of Structure.
But remember, we cannot give a thing we don’t have. If we don’t have Structure, we cannot give it. And if we don’t have truth, we cannot give it, no matter the amount of Love. This leads to our great social problem with Love as a concept.
A major failure of modern society is that people evolved in a world without much structure and therefore cannot understand it without proper education. So for most people the complex intellectual ways to get closer to the objective truth simply do not exist. With no truth to stand on, Intuition in intellectual subjects like science also collapses.
But if the structure is missing, what do we have in these people? Only an industrial amount of the Chaos + Love force. It generates Inspiration, Motivation and Creativity in quantities higher than average per person. Now combine this Game of Self raw force with a… completely random direction of pointing it and the untapped power of social media. What could go wrong 🙂
So the chaotic power is there but misdirected (unless randomly pointed in the right direction). The End result is known to all:
Polarizing misinformation, conspiracy theory/fake news generation/sharing from otherwise well-intended people.
Deliberate misinformation is surely a thing but its resources are only enough to plant the seed of the poison ivy. It would go nowhere if not for people who share unverified (thus usually wrong) claims like there’s no tomorrow. And why? Because of love. They want to make the world a better, more just place. That’s all there is.
We should always remember that the vast majority of these people not only mean no harm but are very loving and caring. They follow their heart and it just doesn’t lead them to the truth because truth, unlike emotions, is not a major survival factor. They just don’t have the truth-finding tools, which, unlike Love and empathy, are not built into us.
We have to compassionately show these people that Structure cannot be easily felt. It has to be learned to an extent so your intuition can step on something and fill in the blanks. And that they have to develop intellectual trust for scientists and not depend on the more primal emotional trust that we are used to using. In a filter bubble the emotional trust is what keeps the lies and polarization going around.
This does not mean we want to take away their strong Love + Chaos combination. It’s a good thing to have for The Game of Self, for sharing with others and contributing to the world. Its literal only drawback is that the fuzzy feelings of feeling part of a tribe or spiritual just disconnect them from the boring but essential world of structure, which is a better truth finder than feelings.
So QAnon followers and Infowars viewers, I know you only have the best intentions. But your actions do matter, we live in a shared world. Remember that truth has a beauty of its own and with a Love + Structure mix we can get closest to it. Please try!
And things are not always black and white. Complex topics like Covid vaccination and its relation to personal freedoms each require their own deep dive to access all the relevant Game of Life facts and Game of Self feelings involved. But we should all be led by empathy when dealing with each other and led by facts when dealing with the world.
This is not to say every person (including me) doesn’t believe in lots of wrong stuff. Hell, I thought up to an hour ago that sewage and storm drainage water goes to the same place (apparently they don’t). But I didn’t share my false beliefs (potentially harmful because they can cause trash to end up in rivers) with anyone and so I caused no real-life damage to the world. And I try never ever to share unverified information. This would be a great instinct to have for everyone on Planet Earth. Caring for the information we expose other people (even strangers) to is a form of Love 🙂
And despite the primal instincts telling us the truth of our social group is our own truth, critical thinking and not-being-afraid-to-be-wrong should get us back on track when we get lost.
The Game of Life needs Structure to understand it. Love as a concept is a force multiplier for your actions. And Structure is pointing this power in the right direction, determined by truth.
You need them both.
Love in biology
Biology doesn’t have many goals. Survive to pass your genes on and you’re a relative winner.
Love in biology acts as a binding force in many of these processes:
- Love for our kids is the strongest one, as they depend on us for their survival. It’s a bit unfair – they will probably never love us back as much as we love them. Just another of the ways love is not symmetrical and we should not expect it to be.
- Love in the form of attraction for our partner (biologically built-in so the kids can arrive in the first place). If any species develops a dislike for sex, they definitely are not passing their genes on 🙂 Evolution can be defined as: Those who reproduce, reproduce.
- Love for our family so we can raise kids and stand together in the face of danger (which our evolutionary past was filled with).
- Love for our closest people (our tribe). Again bonding so we better cope with danger.
These types of love are not unique to humans. Other smart and emotional animals have even the more advanced of them.
There is nothing that interesting here. Love in biology is a mechanism driven by evolution like everything else in nature.
Now, what do humans have, that animals have not?
Attraction is when you want the person for yourself. As this is not the usual “outgoing” type of love, we’ll refer to it as attraction from now on, so we can differentiate it from Higher Love – the best kind of romantic love, that is purely outgoing and unselfish.
So what is Higher Love?
- When you want the loved person to be happy more than you want yourself happy
- When you objectively make sacrifices for the loved person and they don’t feel like sacrifices, but rather like the natural thing to do.
- When actions that would annoy/hurt you come from any other person, do not cause harm when coming from your loved one.
- When it feels right to give freedom to your loved one rather than obstruct it. Including how they spend their time and see other people.
- Higher Love does not come with any expectations.
Usually, feelings in your heart are a mix of attraction and Higher Love.
While Love is a huge mix, we can already get the 3 metrics we need for some proper analysis:
- Its strength
- The ratio between attraction and Higher Love
- Is the love mutual or one-sided (unrequited).
First to get this out of the way – I have zero judgement for anything love/sex-related that goes on between people as long as it’s 100% consensual. People may hook up for fun without Love being involved or loving a different person every day or be into kinky stuff or whatever. As long as everyone involved feels genuinely good about it, it’s a perfectly sound way of life no matter how weird it may seem to me or others. We are not in each other’s minds and hearts and judging should have no place here.
Now, let’s start from the beginning. Where do we get our ideas about Love? The same place we get all our ideas – culture.
Now culture never failed to fail me so far, does it give good love advice? Hell, noooo 🙂
Even the words and expressions we use in English like “fall in love” (highly recommended talk!) are rooted in very wrong assumptions.
Here are the main myths about Love in our culture.
Love can break your heart and make you very miserable long term… Yes it can, if you allow it
Hm… isn’t it strange that arguably the best thing in life can also be the worst? Other stuff does not work like this. Does the very best of the best pizza occasionally turn into the very worst of the worst pizza!? No, it doesn’t make any sense. Because it’s not Love that can make you miserable, it’s expectations. And Higher Love does not come with any expectations. Including to be mutual, to be long term or your loved one to be faithful. It’s just enjoying the feeling of the moment and not thinking about the future. Betrayed attraction and failed expectations are what cause all jealousy and misery.
Higher Love is only connected to the happiness of the loved one. So of course it can lead to sadness if your loved one is unhappy. But you will try your best to help and won’t have regrets if you’re driven by Higher Love. It brings out the best in everyone and you will know what to do, no matter the hardships. And even in dark times, it will bring light to you, along with the darkness. Like in this and also this amazing movies.
Love comes with huge drama, ups and downs and lots of suffering… Yes it may, if you allow it
If you have expectations in Love, dramatic ups and downs will obliterate you. But you don’t need to. Ditching expectations does not make you less loving or less committed. It just makes you wiser, emotionally healthier and much nicer to be around. All good things for your loved one.
There are sad moments in Love, no doubt. But sadness is a part of life and by far not the worst one. It has its place as my favorite animation movie shows. Sadness is a part of healthy healing processes and it does not equal suffering – which again, comes from failed expectations.
Love needs to have some attraction involved … No, it doesn’t!
Of course, attraction usually plays a part. Beautiful, handsome, charming people receive more attraction. But this is also kind of a trap. As Higher Love predominant relationships are not that common, having a constant flow of attraction and being in relationships all the time may distract you from the really precious people you can give some Higher Love to.
In the famous play (based on a true story) Cyrano de Bergerac had an ugly long nose but also courage and inner beauty, which he could very well express in words.
In love with Roxanne, he wrote letters to her on behalf of the handsome Christian. Roxanne finds out about who was writing them too late, when Cyrano is mortally wounded.
Only then does she realize she was in love with him.
The letters were what mattered to her. Not the looks.
I’ve personally had my two strongest and most beautiful love stories start without any attraction (more on that later). So it surely happens to many people. Higher Love without attraction is an extremely beautiful thing (more on that also later).
If you don’t feel 100% attractive, compensate with muscles (men) or makeup/elegance (women).
As we said, attraction is not the key. The myth above is actually counterproductive as making you attractive increases distraction factors and you decrease your odds of ending up with someone who values you more for the person you are and less for your looks. If you don’t overprepare and just be yourself, the results are optimal long term. If your confidence suffers and you boost it with muscles or makeup, you are becoming a slave to your looks, which is a bad place to be. There are other ways to increase confidence like healthy self-love and activities that drive it (eg. helping others).
You can even go overboard with this counter-popular strategy and deliberately ignore all fashion efforts, making you look not just natural but simply plain. Like just wearing 1 color $3 T-shirts that most people wear at home. The message this sends to the world is “I have enough value in myself that I don’t care about fashion. I’m also confident enough to go against fashion norms.” And this kind of message attracts the people you would likely want to be with. I call this approach “The Filter”.
Now that we’re past the myths, how do we actually go about it? Are there best practices (or… any practices) in the mess of Love?
Let’s see how we can influence the four factors:
- The exact person we love – Partially under our control, partially not
- The strength of the feelings – Partially under our control, partially not
- The ratio between attraction and Higher Love – Partially under our control, partially not, (depends on both us and our loved one)
- Is the love mutual or one-sided – Totally out of our control, once we are our best self (which I assume anyone tries to be)
In our local (Bulgarian) culture we have this flower:
Legend says it has the magical power to make anyone fall in love in you… Regardless of whether it works (probably it’s less effective than the modern scientific method:)), the question is should you use something like this? Not even if it’s morally right, just… is it best for your long term happiness to substitute the actual magic of life love-matching with something artificial? I would never. So from now on we’ll assume that we’re giving it our best but we are without control if we’re loved back or not.
So it’s no wonder Love is pictured as an uncontrollable fall in culture – We do not have complete control over anything here, 3 partials and one no. However, there is a way around most of the chance factors.
There is clearly one factor that influences the others a lot – The exact person we love.
Is it remotely possible that we can choose this person? And if we could, would it change everything?
This time we go backward 🙂
If we could choose the person we love, would it change everything?
Yes. This one is a no-brainer. If you can choose a kind-hearted person with inner beauty:
- If the love is mutual, all is great
- If the love is one-sided it’s even more important to have a kind, understanding person on the other side. Simply share how you feel and be honest.
Let’s explore this case in greater detail to see how the configuration ends up:
- You love a kind-hearted person with inner beauty and it’s one-sided
- As they are kind and won’t hurt you, you can let your love go strong, no problems
- As it’s the inner beauty that got you, it’s mostly or entirely Higher Love
Most of those grow into beautiful friendships until the feelings subside in some months. Time spent with your loved one has no expectations (as the Higher Love does not bring any) and there are no bad feelings. Lots of love, lots of inspiration, lots of conversation and sometimes a bit of melancholy when the person is not around. Not bad at all and surely preferable to an unhealthy relationship.
So yes, it would change everything. So…
Is it remotely possible that we can choose who we fall in love with?
Remember, Love is chaos. Is it possible at all?
Yes and no. You cannot choose. But you can leave yourself with more good options and fewer bad ones.
There are many ways in which we meet people – from totally random like big parties and dating sites, to everyday repeatable and predictable situations like work.
We want from our potential loved ones:
- To look like they are a great person
- To actually be great (eg. not fake it)
Everyone not-that-great wants a partner as well and as we’re not 12 anymore, they have long figured out the best way is to just act cool, show their best sides and hide the worst. So these are the people we want to avoid.
However, we approach this in a very illogical way as a culture. We try to isolate love searching to cliché one-on-one activities like dating (a talk about modern love clichés) in restaurants and cafes. Everyone can be nice and fun on a date, this doesn’t really show the heart they have. If you really want someone to show their true colors, get them out for a walk in the park and get them in a swamp 🙂 Maybe not literally… but then again, why not 🙂
This example was meant to show that life has an amazing diversity of situations that can help us spot a real kind heart. But we run away from them as if we’re scared to go deep. But if you’re into someone you’re heading deep anyway, time will get you there. So why not open your eyes to the actual human qualities of your potential loved one?
There are so many ways to see if a heart is full of the kindness you want… Just some examples:
- How do they treat others?
- How do they react in unexpected situations where preprogrammed reactions don’t exist?
- Do they value your freedom and the freedom of others?
If you think about it you don’t need to date someone to find this out. You just need to be around. You can be classmates, friends, colleagues or meet each other at a mountain peak during bad weather and decide to walk back together. The point is there should be some challenge involved. Because in dating the only challenge (to look cool and attractive) can be easily faked, while it’s not usual for people to fake their whole everyday life.
It might seem that choosing and dating a cool person is way easier than filling all your life with cool people so you have the potential for Higher Love with a beautiful kind person with true inner beauty?
But actually one of your main goals in life already is… filling all your life with the best people you can find. You don’t need to do any extra effort to improve the odds of falling in love with a great person, just prioritize this already important thing even higher.
How to prioritize it? Just prioritize freedom and the more you have it, the more you will learn how to use it. You spend close to half of your adult life working… so having the freedom to work with people you can choose increases the chances of finding a beautiful person greatly. How to do this? Day jobs don’t give a lot of freedom but entrepreneurship does. You might want to check the Business and Money posts in that regard. They are all about Freedom.
And don’t hold back. Beautiful people are wanted everywhere and they get to choose. Their intuition values honesty and authenticity above all. As this was a valuable survival trait, we are good at it. So… just be yourself 🙂
This is the reason I feel you should never hold back on loving someone you know next to nothing about if they give kindness vibes and there are no red flags. It’s like a closed loop of positive feedback:
You love strongly -> Barriers fall and you become more honest and open to others -> You attract more beautiful people in your social circle that value these qualities -> Your chances of loving strongly a beautiful person increase -> You get hurt by loved ones less or not at all -> Your fears and barriers diminish -> You love even more strongly 🙂
And of course, every positive feedback loop has its mirror ugly feedback loop:
You love weakly as you don’t want to get hurt -> You become more closed and put barriers between you and others -> You attract less beautiful people in your social circle -> Your chances of loving a beautiful person decrease -> You get hurt by loved ones more -> Your fears and barriers increase further -> You love even more weakly 🙁
This is unfortunately a case with many, many people. The entry point of the ugly loop is broken expectations. So if you learn how not to have any, you can avoid or (if too late) stop and try to reverse the downward spiral.
So Love it turned out, is highly dependent on the Freedom in your life. Because with freedom you can have beautiful people around, love them strongly and of course all of this brings… more Higher Love. And just like that we solved the 3 things that were partially dependent on us and made them almost fully reachable.
Freedom is mostly influenced by your Game of Self strength (no sheep is free) and your Money and experience of how to use them to change your Game of Life. So it turns out, Money can indirectly be a contributor to more Higher Love, something you wouldn’t normally think. Money is apparently underrated.
Now for the one we cannot control.
What happens if it’s a one-sided (unrequited) love
I’m going to focus specifically on this one more because:
- It’s even more misunderstood in our culture;
- It has great potential for harm if mismanaged;
- It has great potential for bringing amazing life changes if harnessed;
- It can be a joyful experience of friendship for both the loving and loved one;
- It’s sometimes a pure Higher Love with no attraction mixed in, a precious thing;
- I have a lot of diverse personal experience with it so everything I write is tested;
Interestingly popular culture was not a failure about this some time ago. Philosophers and authors had nuanced views with my favorite saying coming from Friedrich Nietzsche:
Indispensable…to the lover is his unrequited love, which he would at no price relinquish for a state of indifference.
However, in modern times, our culture never fails to fail, considering one-sided love a fully valid reason to be miserable and depressed. In our competitive world striving for the maximum and getting rejected is always if failure. But is it really?
As usual, it depends… is it mostly attraction or Higher Love?
If the attraction is the main component, you will suffer that you cannot be together, possibly be jealous, won’t be able to spend a nice time together or form/sustain a beautiful friendship. Your strong primal instincts will only remind you of what you cannot have. There is a risk of your darkest sides coming to life. Like killing someone in your thoughts 🙂
In a study of 5,000 people in six cultures, 84% of women and 91% of men admitted to having had at least one fantasy of murder, and the vast majority fantasized about killing sexual rivals. (full jaw-dropping jealousy article).
While it’s fortunate that almost all of thеse remain a fantasy, jealousy is still a leading cause of violence and the leading cause of spousal murder worldwide 🙁
And because you cannot control if the love will be mutual, better do what you can do – make everything you can to fall for beautiful people with Higher Love.
Now let’s see what happens when Higher Love is in charge.
Suddenly you are not the center of the story anymore, your loved one is. You think about how they feel. And their happiness becomes the main goal. This takes all the pressure off you and the expectations should be gone.
First of all, if it’s clear or probable the love is one-sided, there is no reason not to let your loved one know. This may be an anxious moment itself but it’s totally worth it. Summon up your courage and do it in person. Every single person appreciates honesty to their face. Showing your vulnerability is brave and genuine and the right thing to do. Now you’re on the same page – no need to overthink it. I love, you’re loved. Both are precious in different ways. There are no expectations or worries. Good? Good.
On the other hand not sharing this quite important information will make you really uncomfortable long term. And if you really want to have hope (not expectations!) of a mutual love one day, sharing your feelings does not take any of your hopes away. While the notorious “friend zone” is a very real thing, being in a close friendship with Higher Love added from our side and with full transparency can be a joyful experience. While being in a close friendship with secret love will bring a lot more anxiety to it. And friend zones are not always a permanent thing so while probably nothing more than friendship will happen, you can have hope (without expectations!).
From then on you’re in a strangely beautiful state. The hardest thing in life (change) suddenly becomes natural and easy. You feel like you have no barriers in The Game of Self and thus also in The Game of Life. You’re fluid and unstuck and full of energy and motivation.
Of course, you try to spend as much time as possible around your loved one. But it’s not obsessive because Higher Love respects freedom above all. You feel in your heart that you want what they want so your only desire is to communicate and be the best friend that you can be.
If the feelings are strong, your loved one can feel like a part of you for some time, someone you feel all the time if you’re not concentrated on a specific task. You go to sleep, wake up, walk – the feeling is always there. In this especially beautiful case, you have the opportunity to copy all their best qualities onto yourself, which, given your affection, is essentially effortless. Wanted to become a more compassionate person for 10 years? If your loved one has this quality, considering the human ability to copy (that’s how we learn everything as kids) and the complete lack of barriers between you and your loved one in your heart… it’s a done deal. It will happen even if you don’t think about it. This is why it’s so important to love beautiful people – we copy so much from them…
So if a positive change in The Game of Self happens naturally when you feel Higher Love and you can only spend a limited time with your loved one… What will you do with the rest of your time? Where in The Game of Life do you point to all the passion?
For passion, there is “The Principle of two” 🙂 It’s a practical solution to how to structure the big big things in your life.
It states that at any point you need at least two very passionate activities in your Game of Life. You can have one huge activity only in certain exceptional cases, like with highly committed artists or scientists. You can also have three or more if not being focused works well for you.
When you have zero passionate activities, your happiness and motivation struggle, no surprise here.
When you have one passionate activity, you have to ask: “Can I do it all the time”? and “Does it lead to personal progress”?
If the answer is no to any of those, you need another one too. Examples:
- If you have 2 small kids (passionate activity one), even if you don’t have a lot of spare time, you need another passionate activity. The kids will one day grow up and you need to be growing with them in some area of your life.
- If you are a young athlete with no family yet, professional sports is your passionate activity one. Say you’re injured and out for 2 months, now what? Passionate activity one is on pause and if you don’t have a number two, it will be mentally tough to wait.
- On another note, waiting between your sports games is also tough if there is nothing to fill the space with. It puts a lot of pressure on you to do just one thing.
- Almost everything related to business and work is some kind of waiting for opportunities, waiting for projects to complete or features to become usable. If this is the only thing in your life, the endless waiting will suck. Everything always takes longer than expected…
- For many people the 2 passionate activities are their job and their love/family.
But many people don’t have a family yet or don’t look at their job passionately. Finding a passion number two is the main task of their lives so:
- They have a saving backup if their only passion somehow dies or grows out of its passionate period
- They can switch between activities in the waiting periods, being more effective and reducing mental stress and pressure.
Feeling Higher Love is one passion. If you don’t have another, you risk leaning into obsession.
Now that you know this, you just need to find something you really care about and turn it into a passion. Higher Love will help with that as you’re surely in hunter mode at the moment. And Love makes you curious so you tend to explore stuff. All good things.
Just don’t focus it all on your Love, even if it’s a Higher one. Not only do you risk overwhelming your loved one with attention but you’re also breaking The Principle of two.
There is no stronger force in life than Higher Love. Enjoy its power and take advantage of the shattered barriers to grow both in The Game of Self and The Game of Life … and grow younger 🙂