Loving SO THAT . . .

By Greg Baer M.D.

December 18, 2015

A man wrote to me and asked, “Is it a Getting Behavior if one partner voluntarily does a thoughtful action—such as bringing a cup of coffee, or cleaning up the dishes—with the hope that the recipient will appreciate the action and come to regard the ‘doer’ with approval?”

Yes, by definition, any Getting Behavior is defined as doing something for another person with conditions. Some such behaviors are obvious, while others are less so. It is conditional “love” when:

  • We do something for another person SO THAT they will like us.
  • We do something so that another person will not disapprove of us.
  • We do something so that the other person will be more likely to do something for us.
  • We do something so that the other person will be happy. Now, this is a tricky one. Surely making another person happy is a worthy goal. But it’s a goal we set for SOMEONE ELSE, and we never have the right to do that. It leads to unforeseen problems. What if I do something to make you happy, but then you’re not? Very likely I will be disappointed, and you’ll sense that feeling from me. It is also likely that if you fail to be happy as a result of my behavior, I’ll alter my behavior to manipulate you to be happy, and that’s a slippery road. I have a right to set goals for MYSELF only—to be loving, to be kind—but not for how you’ll respond.

By definition, Real Love is CARING about the happiness of another person, but that is different from doing something SO THAT they will be happy. With Real Love, my caring about your happiness will motivate me to serve you, but I will not be attached to the outcome. I will love you just because it’s what I want to do—it’s an natural expression of who I am, and of my love for you—not to achieve a particular result.

Real Love in Marriage

Find genuine happiness now and forever.


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About the author 

Greg Baer, M.D.

I am the founder of The Real Love® Company, Inc, a non-profit organization. Following the sale of my successful ophthalmology practice I have dedicated the past 25 years to teaching people a remarkable process that replaces all of life's "crazy" with peace, confidence and meaning in various aspects of their personal lives, including parenting, marriages, the workplace and more.

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