Relationships: A Harmony of Love and Affection

Today I want to accomplish two things. First, I want to suggest to you that love and affection are not the same thing, but rather, two completely separate things. Second, I want to explain how the two of these separate things come together to form the little miracles that we call our relationships. I want to do these things because I believe that the process of reading and comprehending what I have to say today will challenge us by making us more aware of the quality of our relationships as well as by making us question what it is we mean when we say that we love someone. Let’s begin.

What is Love?

I’ll start by giving some basic definitions of love and affection to explain how they are different from each other.

Love is, simply put, wanting the good for someone else.

To love someone is to have a willingness to help or encourage them to pursue the things in life that we believe will bring them satisfaction and happiness.

For example, say I had a bird in a cage that I truly and genuinely loved. I notice that almost every time I look at it, the bird is trying to escape the cage and go outside to fly and live its life with other birds like it.

If I truly loved that bird, I would let it go.

In love, we focus on the needs and desires of others rather than our desires.

What is Affection?

Affection, on the other hand, is quite different.

To have affection towards someone is to have an intense feeling of attachment, kindness, and devotion towards them.

Where love causes us to focus on the needs or wants of others, affection causes us to focus on the personal feelings and emotions we have when we are with them or thinking about them.

Although both of these things refer to matters of the heart, where love prompts us to pay attention to the desires and feelings of others, affection causes us to pay attention to the desires and feelings of ourselves

Affection Without Love is Vile

The central reason why this distinction ought to be made is this:

While love requires an intentional effort to persist, affection does not.

If we’re not careful, we may come to realize that most or even all of our relationships are based on our affections rather than our love.

In other words, we may choose our relationships based on the positive feelings that we expect to receive rather than on our care and concern for the happiness of the other person.

When we form relationships with others, based solely on our affection for them, we use them for our own selfish and self-centered reasons, whether we know it or not.

We do this because we aren’t interested in their goals, desires, or ambitions, we’re only interested in the good feelings that we have whenever we interact with them.

We aren’t interested in who they are, only in what we are in a position to take from them.

If we strive to form strong relationships, we must become people who are willing to consider first what we have to give to others before we consider what they have to off us.

Relationships based on feelings alone are devoid of substance and simply boils down to a quality of life in which we take and are taken from.

We deserve better than that.

James 3:16

For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.

Love Without Affection is Painful

Just as relationships that depend on affection alone will be filled with unnecessary suffering as a result of selfishness, relationships that depend solely on love alone will also be filled with unnecessary suffering except that this time as a result of selflessness.

To love others (again, to consider to place their needs and desires of great importance) without feeling any sort of affection towards them (a feeling of satisfaction that comes with being with them) results in grievously unbalanced relationships.

That is to say, that when we tend to enter in relationships in which we find ourselves continuously giving and giving, over and over again, without any form of thanks or reciprocation, we get tired.

It takes energy to love.

When we feel that we do so much, yet get practically nothing in return, it takes something from us, something that we may not get back.

If we aren’t careful with these types of relationships, we may come to find that over time, the grass is grayer, the sun is dimmer, and little by little, the joy in our hearts is being siphoned away.

What I’m not saying is that we ought to immediately do away with every single one of these relationships especially if its possible that God has intentionally put us there because there is something he wants us to do.

What I am saying is that our feelings do matter and that as a result of that, we ought to strive to form relationships in which we not only love but are loved in return because that’s what we were created for.

When attempting to love others in our everyday lives, we must be careful not to become so absorbed in their needs and desires that we neglect our own and suffer softly and quietly throughout our entire lives as a result.

We deserve better than that as well.

Genesis 2:18

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

Love with Affection is Edifying 

Although basing relationships on just affection or just love results in unnecessary suffering, basing our relationship on the two of them together results in relationships that not only embolden us to love others more but also serve as a continuous reminder of the love that God has for us.

When we are willing not just to passively receive or to actively give but rather to do both, we enter a cycle of receiving the love of others which satisfies our need for affection which in turn causes us to give our love them as result, and on and on it goes.

When we find a harmony between our feelings and our willingness to sacrifice and uplift others, for their well-being and not our own, we begin to discover what it is to be in a thriving relationship.

Yet above all else, the grandest and most complete joy of our relationships can be realized only truly be realized when we place God at the center of our affections instead of anything else

Although the love we feel from others might quench our need for affection partially, I believe that, if we decide to make him a major part of our lives, God alone can satisfy that need completely.

Philippians 2:4

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Relationships are a give and take.

I hope that in the relationships you have or will have, you’ll be mindful to focus on not just your interests and feelings but on those of others.

Life is a gift and our relationships can be some of the most enjoyable and edifying aspects of that gift but only if we’re willing to do the work understanding others, dare to acknowledge that our feelings matter, and have the wills to love others intentionally.

Be well and do well friends.

Thanks for Reading.

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