So, is love a want or a need? We have defined the operative terms of our question. We have looked as objectively as possible at a small group of subjective data. There is only one thing left to do. Onward to resolution.

Yes, our data indicates that the lack of love as an infant can cause the ultimate in physical harm: death. Also indicated is a profound affect on the later life of the unloved infants that did not die. But this is not really the meat of the question.

In terms of the continuing debate, I suppose the question is:

“Is love a want or a need to an otherwise well-adjusted adult?”

I maintain that it is a need. First, like the need for food, it cannot be adequately controlled. If you are dying of hunger, you cannot control the need. If you eat, you live. If you don’t, you die. If the object of your need is a Porterhouse steak, you can transfer it to a cheese sandwich. But you can’t control it.

Nor can you always control your love. If you are not loving and loved, you cannot will yourself into a relationship where you are. Such a relationship is much too complex for that. If you do have a loved/loving relationship, you can’t will it to stop. You can add other relationships to it. You can transfer your love to another. But you can’t always control it.

At least not without grievous damage. Human beings are born with a need for love, as demonstrated by the infant study. This need does not go away. But it does change. Later in life, the lack of love does not kill you physically. It kills you emotionally. And that may be even worse.

The lack of love makes you callous and unfeeling. The lack of love makes you the ultimate in alone, and without an object for all of our positive human feelings, or the satisfaction of those feelings in ourselves. The lack of love cuts in half all of the things that make us human to begin with. If we never find love, we just naturally grow into half-persons. If we have it and lose all of it, that other half is wrenched from us, leaving bleeding wounds and infinite pain.

Love is not finite. We can love different persons in different ways. We can love more than one person in the same way. Quantity in terms of love is a matter of capacity and luck. But when no love grows, or all love is withdrawn, we are as good as dead. And that is my definition of “grievous damage”.

 Kermit []