Better love

Everyone wants to be loved. But it is not certain that this is the most important thing. Psychoanalyst Nina Coltart wrote: “it is healthier and more beneficial to the whole system to love rather than to be loved. There is a potent myth to the contrary, but this way of looking at it is true nevertheless and can be tested by long-term observation.” And George Elliott remarked in Middlemarch: “In marriage, the certainty, ‘She will never love me much,’ is easier to bear than the fear, ‘I shall love her no more.’” It is a greater disaster to stop loving, than stop being loved.

The ancient Greeks, those creatures of profound understanding, knew this well. We tend to see the opposite of love as hate, but for the Greeks the opposite pole of love was the desire to be loved.

And perhaps the most beautiful pronouncement of this is by the poet, W. H. Auden:

If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.

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