Loving and being Loved is a basic necessity in life. There are many ways to and be loved but I believe if you strip all these ways bare (be it romantic, friends, family etc), you will find that it comes down to two main kinds of love: 'Adult' love and 'Childish' love.
We believe children love unconditionally. They do so, to an extent, but with totally no boundaries. It's actually mostly conditional because love's what the child uses in order to buy the love of their caretakers and people who are supposed to protect them.
An adult can love like a child (childish love) and of course, often doesn't even know it. This adult is often someone who has not grown up or matured emotionally yet and acts just as he did in his childhood even though they're a full grown adult. This behaviour can be acted out in their relationships but also at work and within their family lives. Childish/child-like love is blind. It buys love and doesn't hesitate to manipulate in order to do so. Childish love tends to control and hang onto and therefore doesn't set us or the people we love free. Childish love judges.
When a man or woman understands that love doesn't require buying or manipulating, they are loving maturely. A mature man or woman can bear the weight of solitude. Adult love is assertive and firm, it knows when to say yes and is brave enough to acknowledge when it's time to say no. Adult love means not wanting yourself or your partner to take on an 'inferior' role. Adult love requires you to respect the other even when you might not agree. Loving maturely is recognising and accepting accountability and quickly responding to your actions in a way that is truly responsible.
Adult love means healthy boundaries. It is the difference between empathy and sympathy. It means helping rather than saving. It means forgiving but not forgetting because forgetting might mean repeating the same behaviours. Adult love is joyful and doesn't hold onto fleeting moments of anger and sadness. Adult love is not controlling, jealous or possessive. It's not critical but rather it is constructive. Adult love nurtures interdependency rather than co-dependency. Adult love is not cynical but rather open and curious.
A mature adult loves in a mature way but with a child-like nature. They know the difference and take responsibility to work on themselves and recognise and resolve the residual childhood conditioning rubbing off on their present reality. They do this before going out there to try and love another or change the world, aware that first they must discern what it is to adult love in the first place. Adult love, then, can come at a high price: that of loneliness. For we need to give ourselves the opportunity to become individuals in our own right, in our own lives and discover our place in our own destinies, separate from our children, partners, parents, friends and siblings. Easier said than done, which is why most of us prefer to remain blind and keep loving in a childish way.
Adult love can continue to mature and develop slowly and steadily, recognising the time it takes to heal old wounds and re-wire negative behaviours. It recognises that real growth and acceptance is a byproduct of letting go of control and expectations.
Adult love is what we should aim to embody and practice. When we understand what it is and how to express it, it's important to love ourselves maturely first, before we are able to adult love someone else.
Adult love, unlike childish love, is not blind: it functions as the lens to finally see and accept ourselves and others for who we really are, in our light and shadow. It enables us to follow our destinies free of ties to the past and allow others to follow theirs. It allows us to be and love freely and gives others the opportunity to do the same with themselves and us.