Archives For The Art of Loving

The second premise behind the attitude that there is nothing to be learned about love is the assumption that the problem of love is the problem of an object, not the problem of a faculty. People think that to love is simple, but that to find the right object to love—or to be loved by—is difficult. This attitude has several reasons rooted in the development of modern society. One reason is the great change which occurred in the twentieth century with respect to the choice of a “love object.”

~ Eric Fromm, The Art of Loving (1956)

Most people see the problem of love primarily as that of being loved, rather than that of loving, of one’s capacity to love.  Hence the problem to them is how to be loved, how to be lovable. In pursuit of this aim they follow several paths. One, which is especially used by men, is to be successful, to be as powerful and rich as the social margin of one’s position permits. Another, used especially by women, it to make oneself attractive, by cultivating one’s body, dress, etc. Other ways of making oneself attractive, used both by men and women, are to develop pleasant manners, interesting conversation, to be helpful, modest, inoffensive. Many of the ways to make oneself lovable are the same as those used to make oneself successful, “to win friends and influence people.” As a matter of fact, what most people in our culture mean by being lovable is essentially a mixture between being popular and having sex appeal.

~ Eric Fromm, The Art of Loving (1956)

“Love,” says Dr. Fromm, “is the only satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence.”

Yet most of us are unable to develop our capacities for love on the only level that really counts—a love that is compounded of maturity, self-knowledge and courage.

Learning to love, like other arts, demands practice and concentration. Even more than any other art it demands genuine insight and understanding.

~ Eric Fromm, The Art of Loving (1956)

He who knows nothing, loves nothing. He who can do nothing understands nothing. He who understands nothing is worthless. But he who understands also loves notices, sees . . . The more knowledge is inherent in a thing, the greater the love. . . . Anyone who imagines that all fruits ripen at the same time as the strawberries knows nothing about grapes.

~ Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving (1956)