“Love,” as a word or concept, is huge. It is often broken down loosely into a few types of love – romantic love, familial love, and platonic love. Today I want to focus on platonic love. By platonic love, I mean how we love each other in relationships that don’t fall into the other two types of love I’m listing here.
So what does that look like? Simply wishing the best for them, and encouraging them to do well for themselves. The first step is to remember that healthy love is healthy for all parties. Having boundaries and respecting them is a very important part of loving yourself and being able to love others. Loving yourself and honoring your own needs helps keep you from developing resentment and anger towards others.
Another major step is to stay in an abundance mindset. If you have a scarcity mindset, then there is only so much of a resource to go around, and any of that resource that someone else gets is some that you don’t. It’s really hard to wish the best for someone when you’re worried that they are taking from you. If you have an abundance mindset, then there is enough of each resource to go around, and it’s much easier to wish the best for others when you don’t see them as a threat to your needs.
It is important to note that I do not mean to imply that sacrifice should be a part of a loving relationship. Compromise and acceptance, yes. Giving of yourself to the best of your ability, yes. Over extending yourself, letting others have their way regardless of your wants, letting people treat you badly: no. None of these things are loving.
As for encouragement, I think we’re all familiar with the old saw, “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” This is a very loving approach to a problem. Constantly giving turns into enabling and can be crippling to the recipient. The point is to be loving and to help an individual empower him/herself without falling into the trap of overdoing. I worked in an office where I frequently needed to do a particular process. The expert in said process was incredibly busy, and I hadn’t been trained. So when I went to her to ask for help in a situation, she would just do the process for me because she was too busy to train me. As I’m sure you can imagine, this built up a fair bit of resentment on both our parts. I’m fairly certain that at first she thought she was doing me a favor – the process needed to be done, I couldn’t do it, and she would just do it because it was faster for both of us. Instead, she began to feel taken advantage of, and I felt like I wasn’t pulling my weight and that I was a burden on my co-worker. A far more loving approach would have been if she had been able to teach me to do the process, or if she had sent me to someone who could. My self-worth wouldn’t have been damaged, and she wouldn’t have grown resentful of me.
The point that is at risk of getting lost here is this: when we act with love, when we truly love each other, we can help each other grow and succeed without drowning our Selves in fear, sacrifice, and resentment.