“I define love thus: The will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.” ― M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values, and Spiritual Growth.
This is the first meaningful and practical definition of love I came across more than 20 years back and I have tried hard to live by it.
This has also given me clarity in my thinking while deciding during the conflicts about my own individual preferences/choices as well as personality, with respect to the preferences/choices and personality of WE and US.
A person’s “Individuality” should be in harmony with the “togetherness” of his/her relationships. And it takes different shapes depending on relationship – the Individuality is very different in Parent-Child relationship, Individuality is very different in Friendship relationship, Individuality is very different in Teacher-Student relationship, Individuality is very different in Office-Colleague relationship, Individuality is very different in a love relationship and Individuality is very different in a Marriage relationship.
The question is – do you understand these relationships? Do you know how you manage your “Individuality” in these contexts? Are you matured enough to see “Interdependence” is more divine than “Independence”.
Human beings have evolved far more because we have the understanding of this interdependence. We have the emotional strength for “being together” against all odds. If we had focussed on being “individualistic”, we wouldn’t have been here as a race.
“The Will to extend…” cannot be demanded. One can give his/her will to other person voluntarily to provide complete support to nourish other person’s growth but unfortunately cannot demand for the same in tern from the other person. In a true relationship, there are on negotiations.
In a relationship, both people extending complete support to each other OR not extending their will to support each other are just the same. One is completely harmonious and other is not, but both parties are in sync. The painful relationships are those where one person completely extends his/her will to support the other person and carries on daily life in a truly “interdependence” mode. But the second person confines self-will to cover just his/her individual interests in a ‘independence’ mode.
Those people, who live in “Interdependence” mode in a “independent” relationship, are completely miserable.
And remember – nobody is judging anybody. Everybody is right from where they stand and how they see things. That’s where what Dr. Scott Peck says is more meaningful. “The will to extend one’s self to nurture …”.