Every society in the world praises the value of love. Love takes us beyond self-centeredness and motivates us to connect meaningfully with another.

Yet, too often, the secular ideal of love emphasizes being loved, or at least receiving love in reciprocation for the love one gives.

In Hebrew, “the word for love — ahavah — includes the Aramaic word hav, which means ‘Give!’ (And the initial letter alef makes it mean, ‘I will give.’) Loving . . . is not so much receiving, as giving — oneself, and making sacrifices for others.” [1]

Much Confusion Exists About True Love

Romantic novels, movies, and fairytales can confuse us about love. They glorify love at first sight, which rarely leads to a fulfilling marriage because it is usually fantasy-based. Yes, some couples fell in love right away, married quickly, and it worked out fine. However, Allison’s experience is more common.

Allison’s Story

Allison, in her mid-twenties, looks like a breezy blond cover girl. She met Jim on a dating site. She was so charmed by him in person that instead of sensibly limiting their first date to not more than a couple of hours, she agreed to an all-day date that included a six-hour round trip drive to a scenic location.

They left early and returned to her place, exhausted around one in the morning. She said he could share her bed but without sex. Their next couple of dates did include sex. Allison was in love — but with a fantasy. He loved recreational sex, not her. Their “relationship” quickly evolved into his texting her when he felt like “hooking up.” She was heartbroken.

It hadn’t occurred to Allison to find out, before becoming intimate physically, what kind of relationship Jim was looking for or to know what sort she wanted until her disappointment showed her what she didn’t like.

How Not to Fall Crazy in Love

Many of us can relate to Allison’s story because it’s so easy to fantasize. Do you think it’s natural to fall in love? Why suppress what happens naturally? But if you’re looking for a lasting, fulfilling relationship, why set yourself up for likely disappointment?

Many marriage-minded women, like Allison, get involved too quickly. They confuse sex with love. Hormones have a way of doing that. Such women may believe the relationship is serious and then find out that the man is there for no-strings-attached intimacy. They may repeat their mistakes in future relationships and become cynical about men and marriage because it never works out.

A wise woman uses common sense. Before considering becoming physically intimate, she learns what kind of relationship both she and a man want. If he says he hopes to marry, she takes her time to know if they’re likely to be compatible in the long run and to see if she likes the real him — his values and interests; and his strengths, weaknesses, endearing and annoying habits.

What True Love Looks Like

Arlyn’s parents showed her what true love looks like. “They were always there for each other,” she says. “What I learned from my dad was to be nice to my mother. When she came downstairs dressed up but late to go out with him, he wasn’t critical of her for being late. He’d say, ‘Oh, Mollie, you look lovely.’ He always complimented her.

“Not that they never argued,” she adds. “Sometimes, they’d snap at each other. Like when they came home from playing bridge. One might say to the other, ‘I can’t believe you played that card’ But it was always a love story. They knew every relationship has ups and downs but they were always there for each other.”

The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, gave this explanation of love. He said what you read in novels “is not necessarily what happens in real life. It’s not as if two people meet, and there is a sudden, blinding storm of passion.

That’s not what love or life is or should be about. Rather, he said, two people meet and there might be a glimmer of understanding, like a tiny flame. An then, as these people decide to build a home together . . . and go through the everyday activities and daily tribulations of life, this little flame grows even brighter and develops into a much bigger flame until these two people. . . become intertwined to such a point that neither of them can think of life without the other…” [2]

He said, “It’s the small acts that you do on a daily basis that turn two people from a ‘you and I’ into an ‘us.’” [3]

The small acts you do daily show kindness and respect. Chemistry matters, but we need more than physical attraction for love to grow and last as two people journey together through life with its joys and challenges.


[1] Tackling Life’s Tasks: Every Day Energized with Ha Yom. (Brooklyn, New York, Sichos in English, Second edition, 2010), 98]. Writings of the Previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneerson; Sichos in English, Brooklyn, New York, Sichos in English, Second edition, 2010. Page 98.

[2] Source: Joseph Telushkin, Rebbe: The Life and Teachings of Menachem M. Schneerson, the Most Influential Rabbi in Modern History. Harper Wave, 2014. Page 65.

[3] Ibid
Marcia Naomi Berger, MSW, LCSW, Author, Therapist
You’ll gain practical tips in my books (audio too) to create a more fulfilling marriage and other great relationships. www.marriagemeetings.com

Author's Bio: 

Marcia Naomi Berger, MSW, LCSW, is the author of MARRIAGE MINDED: An A to Z Dating Guide for Lasting Love," (She Writes Press, 2021), and also of MARRIAGE MEETINGS FOR LASTING LOVE: 30 Minutes a Week to the Relationship You've Always Wanted (New World Library).

She is an experienced therapist who specializes in helping individuals and couples to create more fulfilling relationships. www.marriagemeetings.com.