As we mature, we are more able to be at the higher levels of love - but it seems few really understand this, so they are stuck at the lower levels.
LEVEL 1 - INFANTILE LOVE As long as I get what I want...
Babies are happy and seem loving when they have their demands met. But there is no real flow outward.
People who are stuck here are living for others' approval and "getting".
The is constant judging of whether one is getting enough.
The signs are tantrums, rage, withdrawing in hurt because of some believed 'betrayal', attacking - a bit like what a powerful baby would do, but with thought only of oneself - and no understanding of the other person (for one would never do those if one understood the humanity of the other person).
This is waiting for someone to rescue you.
LEVEL 2 - HORSE TRADING
While it is true that there must be some flow back and forth between two people, being loving or giving or doing something for somebody in order to get love back is just plain horse trading. This is "loving with a hook" - the other person will be in big trouble if he/she does not provide what is in the hook (what is wanted back, a must which if not done causes resentment, even anger).
People should act as I want them to act is horse trading. Here a person should act a certain way, be sympathetic enough, do things a certain way 'as is only right to do'. There are alot of conditions, just waiting to be violated. And when they inevitably are, as must occur, the sh-- hits the fan.
At this level, people spend alot of time buying desired behavior from others. And there are alot of failures and living in angst. Time is spent punishing the other, by withdrawing love or criticism, anything to get one's fair share of love back from the other.
The signs are manipulation to get what one wants from the other, including anger, resentment, inflicting suffering, suggesting the other should be guilty or ashamed. One lives in anticipation of loss, essentially having an underlying current of fear. The filter is: am I getting back at least as much as I'm giving or am I getting a bad deal in this relationship (often holding the other as the enemy, since he/she won't cooperate with what one wants).
Here we are waiting for someone to come along to fully love us unconditionally; it is a mythical state, a kind of adolescent fantasy state.
LEVEL 3 - REAL LOVE
This is where a person gives because it is who they are. This is not a win/lose proposition or a conditional love, it is giving out of your wanting to give.
This level contains all three pieces of loving - Acceptance as is, wanting the welfare of the other, and actions useful in supporting the happiness of the other.
Here we are loving unconditionally.
LEVEL 4 - MAGNANIMOUS LOVE
This is a love of humans, as they are and as they are not. This is loving even those who hurt you, such as Nelson Mandela did.
This is understanding that people are suffering and it is wanting to do all one can to reduce that suffering and to make each person happier. It is true compassion, not sympathy (which is lower).
WHICH LEVEL ARE YOU AT AND WHICH LEVEL DO YOU WANT TO BE AT?
The level I am at is __________
The level I want to be at is _____________
The level I choose to commit to growing to is ___________. (Don't BS yourself. You're either willing to do the work or you're not. Whatever you put here will determine how much work you will choose to put into this to reap the dividends.)
STAGES OF MATURITY
Notice that the levels of love correspond to the levels of maturity which correspond to the dependency levels.
I. Me, me --> IIA. you, me (mostly me) --> IIB. "we", partners --> III. I have enough, to truly give
--> I have enough to give to all people
I. Dependency, needy --> II. Interdepency (exchange) --> III. Independency, fully self-
responsible and "filled up"
Notice that one cannot get to the higher levels, or stages, without developing a true sense of total responsibility for oneself in this world plus doing what is necessary to be "self-filled". (See Loving Oneself, and especially Giving To Yourself What Is Needed.)
Notice that the first two levels are about others causing the feeling of "love", which really is more like "security" and the good feelings from that, and its subpart "feeling loved" and safe. At the third level and the fourth level, love is a self-generated feeling - it feels good as the chemicals that go with that type of thinking are all happiness generating chemicals . The difference here is that we are not dependent on others to generate our happiness - we can do it at any time that we want.