The Opposite of Love is not Hate…Well then What is It?

At Jeff’s wedding last October his best man, Dan Halter, asked a great question. “Do you remember the moment you fell in love?” He went on to explain that most of us don’t, and that the reality is is that love begins and stays because of endless little actions that demonstrate that you love that person. Making their coffee, picking up the clothes, calling home to check in “just because”, and on and on and on the list goes.

My wise friend, Herb, once said, “The opposite of love is not hate, the opposite of love is lazy.” His definition makes it explicit that love is about action. The dictionary defines love as “an intense feeling of deep affection.” Herb’s and Dan’s comments have me convinced that the dictionary’s definition is inadequate. I may have the most intense feelings of love for my son, but if it isn’t expressed though my actions, only I know the love is there. It’s like possessing a precious gift and then hoarding it. The gift has no value until it is shared.

Hate, while defined as a feeling, also seems to imply a willful or intentional action or dislike of something. It seems that most failed relationships die a slow, almost imperceptible, death of neglect. Being ignored or neglected is a painful thing to endure.

Real love for your son (or other family member) is demonstrated day-in and day-out through myriad acts of time, attention, kindness, strength, and tenderness. If you are serious about being a good father, husband, or friend–lazy won’t get you where you need to be. Time and effort are essential pieces to strong relationships.

I’m not talking about earning your way into someone’s life or spending just enough time with someone to try to win them over. Inauthentic action can be smelled a mile away. Love is shown, felt, given, received over time and with authentic energy. And the awesome result is that both parties win.

This is an excerpt from Tender Lions: Building the Vital Relationship Between Father and Son.

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