Erich Fromm’s The Art of Loving

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Erich Fromm’s "The Art of Loving"

Upon reading Erich Fromm’s The Art of Loving, I gained a better understanding of what love really is. Fromm’s book puts love into perspective. He begins with several facts with regards to the attitude in which people treat love. They are the problems of how to be loved, the object to love as well as the confusion between the initial experience of falling in love and the permanent state of being in love, which had a great impact on me, as far as thinking about what love is.

Strangers meet, they break down social walls between one another, and they feel close, as one. They supposedly fell in love with one another, to Fromm, falling in love is not love, it’s more infatuation. Fromm describes it as "one of the most exhilarating and most exciting experiences in life. Fromm argues that this initial infatuation feeling slowly and naturally loses it miraculous character overtime, as the couple gets more aquainted and learn more and more about each other. Fromm says that problem occurs when people confuse feelings of infatuation for proof of the intensity of their love. The feelings of infatuation eventually subside and the result is the wish for a new conquest, a new love with a new stranger. Again the stranger is transformed into the "intimate" person, and again the experience of falling in love is exhilarating and intense and it once again slowly becomes less and less and once again the cycle repeats itself. Fromm says that these illusions are greatly helped by the deceptive character of sexual desires. Sexual desire can be stimulated by the anxiety of being alone, the wish to conquer, vanity, or the wish to hurt or even destroy someone. Some people mistake sexual desire with the idea of love, they are easily misled to conclude that they love each other when they want each other physically. Fromm states that if a person’s desire for physical union is not stimulated by love, and romantic love is also not coupled with other forms of love, it will never lead to a union more than an "orgiastic, transitory sense." So what will end up happening is the person who gets scarred by love will begin to destroy or sabotage love in the future, in order to avoid the painful feelings associated with love gone wrong or to avoid vulnerability and basically not surrender to love.

Fromm asks, is love an art, or is love a pleasant...

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...n my mother was. My mother taught me about life, not my dad. I was what you called "Daddy’s Girl." He had a soft heart when it came to my sisters and my brother. My husband is another example I can use. Although we are separated, we were together for 15 years, within that time he was never really there for my children. I was, and am their disciplinary figure, I teach them about life, and I talk to them about the right and wrong paths they can take. I am sorry to say he was a terrible father. He did all the wrong things, due to his drinking. He was verbally abusive to us, and physically at times, with me. So I cannot agree with Fromm on this point. I am the one preparing my children for the future, not him. I am not saying Fromm is wrong, only that I do not find the theory to be true due to my personal experiences.

Fromm concludes that love is not a feeling, it is a decision, and it’s a judgement, a promise. To love means to surrender and commit without guarantees, It is an act of utter faith. I feel I have a better understanding of what love is and that if more people understood that true love is not about being loved, but about loving, this world would be a better place.

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