Love is a great motivator. It moves us to do things we don’t want to do—to make sacrifices for the sake of those we love. I work longer and harder than I want to because I love my kids and want them to live in a safe neighborhood.

I stay up late, even when I’m exhausted, and talk to a girlfriend who is going through a difficult time. I cancel long-standing plans when my son is having aproblem at school.

Iprepare dinner for my husband when I’d rather be reading a book. My heart is too attached to choose otherwise; I like the feeling of connection and the knowledge that makes a difference.

Many proclaim that to love and be loved in return is the greatest gift we can give or receive in life. Maybe it is the feeling that someone is there for us, likes us, and wants to be with us that has us all searching for love, the longing for that one person who will accept us unconditionally.

Many of us crave love because it feels good. For some that is enough.“I’ve fallen in love three times since my divorce six years ago,” said Wendy. “All three times I was the one left, sadly wishing the relationship could continue. It hurt when each relationship ended, but the hurt could never outweigh all the great feelings that came with the loving.

I love for many reasons; one of them is to overcome the loneliness I feel when it is just me and the kids. I like having a man to talk with at the end of the day, to share my thoughts, to discuss my problems—and, if I’m lucky, a passionate lovemaking before falling asleep. It is sad when love dies, but it is so glorious when it is alive. I learn so much about myself when I’m in a relationship.

I grow, I am challenged to work on some of my bad habits, and I learn about the other person’s life, problems, and bad habits. I also find a lot of humor in relationships.”Wendy accepts her craving for love as a natural part of her life, and she has learned to go on to the next relationship if one doesn’t work out.

Falling in Love
In some instances the craving we have for love comes from not getting all the love we needed or wanted as children.“I feel like I’ve lived my whole life trying to be good enough for someone to really love me,” said Audrey. “My parents were good parents; I know they loved me, but I also felt there were expectations that went along with receiving their love.When I wasn’t good at something, didn’t get good grades, had trouble making friends, or came home drunk from a party, like most teenagers do once in a while, I felt complete rejection.

I know that my parents’ generation didn’t have much instruction on how to parent kids, certainly nothing like what is available to me. I’m trying to do a better job with my girls to support their talents, to listen to them, and to love them just for being themselves.”

Like Audrey, many of us are looking for that ideal, nurturing relationship that we needed from our parents—for a lover to listen wholeheartedly, to support our talents, and to love us whether we are successful at things or not.We go through life constantly trying to dig up that feeling of acceptance. When we begin to fall in love, each person has this incredible ability to be nurturing and accepting in a way that even our parents didn’t live up to.We hang on to each other’s every word, think every story is interesting, and are willing to sacrifice whatever is asked just to be with them. The problem is that after a few months or years, even lovers become ordinary human beings, and as human beings ( just like us), they lose some of the initial motivation to be the allaccepting parent figure we were looking for—the person we thought we found when we first met. In this way love can be a great teacher—showing us what we long for and nudging us into the relationships that will both stir and satisfy those longings.

In love, we learn to laugh with our whole body, to experience our environment in full color, to take on challenges with gusto, to scream in anger, and to weep with despair.“You ask me to describe what I’ve learned from love,” said Casey. “Well, only everything that is important! Love has taught me how to work together with someone who is completely different from me, how to accept not getting what I want, and what it feels like to get exactly what I want. I’ve learned how to be honest, to understand my feelings and then communicate them, and how to share my most precious children.” Love reveals the secrets within our hearts, putting us in touch with feelings of compassion, making us more open, vulnerable, and loving human beings.