Love Takes Practice

Falling in love is easy. But loving someone for a lifetime—well, that’s an art.

In the 1950s, psychoanalyst Erich Fromm shook up the fields of psychology and philosophy with the simple (but revolutionary) idea that loving is a skill, not a state of mind.

Before Fromm, people had always thought of love as a phenomenon that happens to us naturally and spontaneously, without much effort. But love isn’t a passive experience; it is an enterprise that requires engagement and agency. People who don’t put effort into loving someone as a disciplined activity are more likely to lead limited and unfulfilled lives.

Think of it this way: with a little practice, you can develop your capacity to love people better, much in the same way you might learn to cook a new cuisine or play the violin.

It’s normal to approach your relationships with big hopes and expectations. But when your focus is purely on the status of the relationship, rather than the act of loving, you’re setting yourself up to fail. Loving someone requires active effort, but the benefits and rewards of your labor will last forever.

You’ll find your first lesson in The Art of Loving in our latest Instaread. And remember, as with any new hobby, you’ll only get better with practice.

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