The Art of Love: Cultivating Your Full Potential for Lasting Relationships

Love is not a simple pleasurable emotion that anyone, regardless of their level of maturity, can engage in. I want to prove to readers that if you try to love without striving to develop your full personality and cultivate your creativity, you will definitely fail. I want to demonstrate that loving another person without loving your neighbor with sincere humility, courage, trust, and discipline is not reassuring. In a culture where qualities such as humility, courage, trust and self-discipline are diminished, it is extremely difficult for the capacity for love to be fully developed. Everyone might as well ask themselves how many truly loving people they know.

Is love art? If so, then if you want to master this art, you have to learn and not be lazy. On the contrary, according to another view, love is just a pleasant emotion, experienced purely by chance, and when the time comes, love “falls from the sky.” There is no doubt that the vast majority of people today hold the latter view. However, this little book advocates that love is an art.

It’s not that everyone thinks love is unimportant. On the contrary, people crave love. There are countless movies about romantic comedies and tragedies, and hundreds of kitsch love songs, but few people believe that it is necessary to learn to love.

This peculiar attitude is based on stereotypes that either alone or in concert support it. Most people believe that love, first of all, is about being loved by others, rather than loving others or cultivating the ability to love. From this we can conclude that the problem of love is how to be loved and how to become lovable. To achieve this goal, people choose different paths. One path is to pursue the greatest success, seek the greatest power, and win the most wealth as social status permits. Men especially like to take this path. Another way, which women especially like, is to use heavy makeup and gorgeous clothes to make themselves more charming. There is another path that both men and women are willing to take, which is to be elegant and decent, talk humorously, be eager to help others, be modest and prudent, and be affable. These lovable qualities also help people succeed, “win friends and influence others.” In fact, in our cultural atmosphere, cuteness in the minds of most people is just a mixture of likability and sexual charm.

The foundation of our entire culture is the joy of shopping and the belief that transactions are a good deal for both parties. Looking at the goods at the window, buying everything that can be paid in cash or installments, that kind of excitement is the source of happiness for modern people. He (or she) looks at other people as if they were commodities. Men pursue attractive girls, and women pursue attractive men. “Charm” in people’s minds is a beautiful character that attracts people and is popular in the labor market. What makes a person particularly attractive depends on fashion, both physically and mentally.

In the 1920s, girls who were rough and sexy, smoked and drank, were considered attractive, but today’s fashion requires women to be restrained and gentle. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, to be considered attractive, a man had to be ambitious and aggressive; today he must be considerate and generous. At any time, the generation of goodwill generally requires two conditions. One is that people cherish certain qualities, and the other is that people themselves have corresponding exchange goods. Everybody wants to trade. The person you like should have two aspects. On the one hand, he himself is desirable as measured by his social values; at the same time, he considers me desirable based on my explicit or implicit merits and potential. Therefore, if two people find the best match in the market that matches their worth, they will fall in love. Like purchasing real estate, development and potential are often considered in this transaction. In our current culture, market orientation is paramount, and material success is the most respected. It is not surprising that people deal with love relationships in the same way as is common in the commodity market and labor market.

The third reason why people feel there is no need to learn to love is that they mistakenly confuse the initial experience of “falling in love” with the permanent state of “being in love.” Two people who were once strangers to each other, like you and me, suddenly collapse the wall that separates them. They become closely integrated and feel one. This moment of fusion is one of the most joyful and exciting experiences in life. For those who have been lonely and loveless, this moment is especially magical. The miracle of sudden spiritual union is more likely to occur if it is accompanied by the attraction and union of the two sexes, or is caused by the latter. However, this kind of love cannot last by its nature. The two get to know each other better and better, and their intimacy becomes less and less mysterious, until they start to quarrel, become disappointed and tired of each other, and the excitement of first love disappears. However, they initially knew nothing about it. They think that their passionate and “crazy” love for each other proves how strong their love is, but in fact it may only prove how lonely they were before.

Despite countless negative evidence, most people still believe that the easiest thing in the world is love. This type of love story happens again and again, starting with enthusiasm and ending in despair. The failure rate of love is almost higher than that of all other activities and other undertakings. If this happened in other fields, people would either give up or go to great lengths to find out why they failed and how to do it better. Because we cannot give up love, there is only one correct way to avoid failure, that is, to find out the reasons for failure and explore the true meaning of “love” .

The first step on this road is to understand the truth: just as life is art, love is art. When we learn other arts, such as music, painting, carpentry, medicine, and engineering, we have a set of practices. To learn the art of love, follow the same approach.

The learning process can be divided into two parts. On the one hand, we must master theory; on the other hand, we must learn to practice. If I wanted to study medicine, I would first have to master the facts about the human body and various diseases. However, acquiring this theoretical knowledge does not mean that I have mastered medical skills. After long-term practice, the theoretical knowledge I have mastered has been integrated with my practical actions, turning into the intuition unique to an art master. Only then can I be considered proficient in medical skills. However, in order to master an art, in addition to theory and practice, there is a third element, that is, we must put mastering this art first in our hearts, and we must believe that nothing in the world is more important than this art. This is true for learning music, this is true for learning medicine, this is true for learning carpentry skills, and this is true for learning love. We asked earlier, in our cultural environment, although people often fail miserably in love, few people work hard to learn the art of love. Why? Here, we may have the answer: Although we deeply desire love, we believe that almost everything, such as success, fame, money, and power, is more important than love. We devote all our energy to discovering how to achieve these goals, but we devote almost no attention to learning the art of loving.

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