From a talk given by Werner Erhard on the Experience of Love in 1973
Let me tell you what love actually is. Love is the experience that someone’s all right the way they are. It’s not all the garbage. This thing about songs and all that survival stuff. All the stuff you talk about. What love actually is, is the experience that someone else is all right exactly the way they are. To love somebody you have to choose for them to be the way they are. Exactly. Not, "Gee, if you’d only cut your hair, then... you know, it would be okay." No, it’s got to be all right just that way. That’s perfect, that’s absolutely perfect, just that way. And, they’ve got to be all right the way they’re not. Now, if you make something all right the way it is and all right the way it’s not, what’s another word for that? Space. The person’s got the space to be. You know, they can be. They can be the way they are and they don’t have to. Because it’s all right with you for them not to be the way they are. And it’s all right with you for them to be the way they are. That’s love.
The bottom line is to accept the person the way they are and the way they are not, that’s love. Let me put it in more fundamental terms. To be able to tolerate someone the way they are and the way they are not – is loving them. The highest expression of love is the experience that you are creating that person exactly the way they are. They are your creation exactly the way they are, and you are creating the space for them to be any other way. That’s an ultimate expression of love. To create the space for people to be the way they are and to create the space for people to be the way they aren’t. That’s it. And if you’ll notice, there’s no survival, and it’s not worth anything. It’s not worth a thing. The only thing that happens to a person functioning in that space is that they discover themselves. The person creating that space – you know what happens to them? They discover themselves. That’s pretty much it on love. No big deal. It’s not all that complicated. It is relatively simple, just not so easy to do.
And what I’d like to do is to get to a little bit of what love is, and then take a little bit closer look at what blocks us from experiencing what love is, and essentially love is …. And that’s it. See, it isn’t any more complicated than that. And it’s very difficult to get that. You see, what’s very difficult to get is that’s all there is. All the rest of it is an illusion. You see “I love you” is an illusion. It really is. And I really hate to break people’s illusions up. I shouldn’t say that because I really enjoy doing it; it’s my business. (laughter) And I would really like to communicate that “I love you” is an illusion. And if you take a look at “I love you” you’ll see that “I love you” has to come from … (interruption) … So, this idea of “I love you” is really an illusion and I think if you’ll look at it with me for just a moment, you’ll see that it’s an illusion. If I walked up and say “I love you” that’s got to come out of the notion that I might not. You see, it’s got to come from a sense that there’s something other than “I love you”. It’s got to mean “not other things” and “not before I found out that I did, but now I love you”; and “I don’t love other things, I love you – and not other things”. You see, this whole struggle that you and I go through to achieve love, to get love, to have love, to be loved, to love each other; this whole thing that everybody keeps preaching about is all nonsense.
The fastest way to destroy love is to make a goal out of it, because people who are trying to be loved come from a place that they’re not loved. And people who are trying to love come from a place that they don’t love. And people who admonish other people about loving each other, never got it, they just never got it. That’s all nonsense; that admonishment to love one another. The truth is that that’s all there is. And if you take the barriers out of the way, if you take the pretenses out of the way, if you take those things that you didn’t take responsibility for in your life out of the way, what you have left is love. And that’s really the whole story about love. Love is.
Love is granting another the space to be the way they are and the way they are not.