The one subject that has been talked about the most, all the way from antiquity, has been love. There is no greater emotion that can be experienced by human beings. It is the strongest "social glue" known to humanity.
Like with any great thing, there is copycats. Emotions that set themselves up as love, but are anything but. I'm sure they are pretty convincing, hence why so many would be fooled. Love is defined as, "A deep, tender, ineffable feeling of affection and solicitude toward a person, such as that arising from kinship, recognition of attractive qualities, or a sense of underlying oneness."1 That word ineffable means indescribable. The only emotion that cannot be clearly defined. So, in this state of confusion, we are left to try and figure out what it really is.
All through your childhood, you are developing a self-love. You are starting to learn about yourself and begin relating to the world around you. The most important person is you. One of the most important conditions of this life, is your own survival. Usually in childhood, you're dependent on caretakers to produce necessities and wants. So, you build what seems like love for those people. The self-love becomes more evident when you get to junior high and high school. You really don't want your parents coming to pick you up or even showing up to school. How embarrassing is that? Your own image is much more important than the relationship with your parents. USUALLY you grow out of this. The problem is when you don't.
Our mainstream media has found the best marketing tactic in the world. Your own self-love. Our TV shows and movies, based in fantasy, have somehow become a reality for our culture. Obsession is seen as a really strong love, and it's really all about you. Even in our culture's conditioning, we have been taught that romantic relationships are all about your happiness. Granted, this is love, but it's a love of oneself.
Divorce rates are rising more and more. I wouldn't contribute it entirely to the acceptance of divorce, either. I think it has to do with our own view of love. When you have a love for someone, you do your best to make it work. Divorce is really a non-option, barring infidelity or abuse. With self-love taking over love, it's about how you "feel" at that moment. You're not happy? Dump him or her.
To bottom line it, as they say. Self-love is immature, and love is mature. That's usually why I agree with taking your time, and getting to know people. Love takes time to develop, while self-love is already there. When your self-love is greater than your love for others, you can act quick and fast. It feels good to have someone, and it brings YOU happiness. The other's person's happiness is only satisfied as long as you are taken care of first. You're probably thinking, "This is narcissism, and I'm not narcissistic." Well, if you're not anymore, congratulations. You are what we like to call, "mature." Your not so inward focused, but outward.
Love is our greatest emotion, and in healthy form, is directed towards someone else. The problem is there is a self-love. It comes in many forms, which in appearance, seems like a love for someone else. In reality, it's not. You are simply using them for yourself. Ask yourself if you get overtaken with obsession, jealousy, possession, your own image, etc. These are all signals that you truly do not love them, but yourself. Take your time and develop who you are. In time, maturity starts to arise, and you're no longer looking at what you are getting out of it. You're looking at what they are getting out of it. If you are truly in a loving relationship, they will be doing the same.
1 thefreedictionary.com defintion of "love'