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The Self Revealed by Love

By: Kevin Sludds

Updated: 24 February 2022

The Self Revealed by Love

Of the three classical Greek forms of love (philos, agape, eros) the latter, romantic love, for most people is still intimately linked to the notion of destiny. A belief that despite the possible insensitivity and even cruelty the world may have shown a person, one day fate will conjure up their Mr or Mrs Right. 

This idea of love is aligned to thoughts that being in love means being with someone who simply makes the everyday special, not by great feats or prodigious actions but by looking at you in a certain way, by smiling and curiously knowing what you’re thinking and feeling. In a world so often too busy or too indifferent to care, you are now understood.

And being understood means making you feel that compromise and self-deception are no longer a part of who you are, so you can relax and be yourself fully for the first time. In psychotherapeutic and Socratic terms this simply means you come to know you psyche, i.e., your ‘true self.’

There’s a kind of romantic fatalism about this view of the world, the type of thing that says meeting the right person could never be a matter of coincidence, that somehow beyond the realms of logic or reason or common sense, lies the uncommon sense that it was meant to be, that it was, for those with a proclivity towards such elevated thoughts, proclaimed by some higher power.

The funny thing about romantic love is we tend to fall in love hoping we won’t find in the other person the weaknesses we know all too well reside in ourselves, the tendency to be selfish or lazy or opinionated. We bracket the other person off from our faults and see in them something idealistic, something, if not perfect, then certainly beautiful. A tilt of the head, a knowing smile, a hand on your arm all of these things suddenly take on a multitude of possible meanings as each becomes an indicator of the beloved’s deeper understanding of us and the world.

Nevertheless, what happens when the desired one loves us back?

In other words, at the very moment when we have been literally and metaphorically embraced, so too can we come to doubt ourselves. We can begin to question what this exceptional person sees in us. The sabotaging question raises its head, With all of their qualities, how can they love me?

But we must remember, profound romantic love provides us with two perspectives, one outward to the desired object of affection, the other inward revealing how we have come, over time, to judge ourselves. Love, therefore, and paradoxically, both exposes and veils our inadequacies. Yet, so too can it help us to overcome them. For by being our ‘true self,’ we come to accept who we are more completely, and come to love ourselves a little more.


Cesare, Mario A. Di (1978). George Herbert and the Seventeenth-Century Religious Poets. W.W. Norton & Co., NY, USA.

Sludds, Kevin. (2014). The Incurious Seeker’s Quest for Meaning. Peter Lang, Oxford.


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