I once heard that the one who loves less is the one that controls the relationship. It sounds pretty obvious at face value, but it assumes that the expression of love is as obvious as well. It also assumes that the interpretation of control is in fact control and not influence. It assumes a lot. But with most satisfied to think in the shallow end of the emotional pool only, it’s no wonder that such proclamations gain unchallenged veracity.
Love is never monolithic in its expression. A bunch of flowers for one may be an endearing gesture, while for another it could be superficial or fake. Some prefer to see conviction in a personal gesture or investment of time and effort, while others need the flowers to believe that they were remembered at a time when they weren’t present. Whether one form of expression is better than the other is not the point. The fact that it translates into a gesture that reflects intent, and in turn, is appreciated for what it was intended to convey is significantly more important.
Intent, therefore, is what counts. Intent, therefore, also demands sincerity. A gesture is only a gesture towards acquiring a specific desired outcome if that gesture proves to be an embrace of another, rather than the acquisition of benefits for personal gain. That seems a bit wordy, so here’s a slightly lighter take on this. If you give with the intention of receiving, you’re giving for your own benefit and not to sincerely express appreciation or endearment of another.
We all seek to control and/or influence. That is what determines our level of significance with our significant others. Whether such control or influence is driven maliciously or not remains a question of intent, and given the above, it’s near impossible to be absolutely certain about the intent of another. At best, we are able to measure the reciprocation with which our efforts are met. The greater the reciprocation, the more likely we are to believe that there is an equal conviction on their part in responding to our efforts. The less the reciprocation, the more likely we’ll recede from the belief that we’re being taken for granted, or are simply not being appreciated at all.
The one that controls the relationship is not always the one that loves less. Quite often, conviction in the potential outcome drives some to be controlling when they find that they are unable to subtly influence the behaviour of those they love in the direction that they truly believe will benefit them. Benefit to both the one influencing, and personal benefit to the one being influenced. Perhaps, by the same logic, I could argue that the one who controls less may love less, because in doing so, it could easily reflect a lack of conviction on their part. It could suggest a lack of belief in the innate goodness or the beautiful potential that has yet to be realised from the relationship.
It’s all about what’s in it for us. If I aim to extract more benefit for myself than I hope to contribute for others, then definitely my efforts at controlling or influencing the outcome will be self-serving. In that case, my love for myself will be greater than my love for any wholesomeness to be achieved with another. However, if my aim is to extract a benefit for the other, without sacrificing myself in the process, then perhaps it could be argued that I am the one that loves more. If I sacrifice myself in the process, it simply means that I see myself as lacking in value to those around me, and therefore need to expend myself in their service if I ever hope to achieve any level of significance in their lives. A truly unhealthy state to be.