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love vs. obligation

Comments on love vs. obligation

libertygrl
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Posted 04/10/11 - 10:11 AM:
Subject: love vs. obligation
a friend of mine posed this question: would you rather have a father who truly loves you and cares about you but is never home, never offers financial or emotional support, or one who is faithful, provides for his family, keeps his promises and so on, but does so out of a sense of obligation rather than genuine love? per his description, the first father is sincere about his love but is incapable of being responsible. the second father does everything right because he feels obliged, not because he feels love. which would have more value to you?
Thinker13
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Posted 04/11/11 - 5:58 AM:

libertygrl wrote:
a friend of mine posed this question: would you rather have a father who truly loves you and cares about you but is never home, never offers financial or emotional support, or one who is faithful, provides for his family, keeps his promises and so on, but does so out of a sense of obligation rather than genuine love? per his description, the first father is sincere about his love but is incapable of being responsible. the second father does everything right because he feels obliged, not because he feels love. which would have more value to you?


Seems to me, to be a very hypothetical question, though, it is not impossible or even rare to find such cases.

There seems to be something very puzzling in this question. In second case, where father does 1. keeping promises. 2. keeping faith 3. providing for necesities:I wonder, will it not inevitably result in 'love'; mutual love? Yes, it should. It is not that my answer is, that I prefer second over the first; but, indeed, it seems very improbable to me, that there will not be a spontaneous love, mutually shared, in the second case.

What are your thoughts lib?

henry quirk
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Posted 04/11/11 - 8:47 AM:

Practically, for the child: the second father is the better.

If the child never knows Pop is just going through the motions: where's the harm, where's the foul?

And: with time, only a complete nutjob won't -- in the least -- come to value the child (after all: why obligate yourself to someone who means 'nothing' to you?) and -- in the most -- come to love the child.

It's the expression of love (even if faux) that matters: love, in itself, is useless.

The price for faux love (that never becomes real), of course, comes later on when the child, as adult, realizes Pop never really gave a shit.
libertygrl
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Posted 04/11/11 - 4:39 PM:

henry wrote:
And: with time, only a complete nutjob won't -- in the least -- come to value the child (after all: why obligate yourself to someone who means 'nothing' to you?) and -- in the most -- come to love the child.

Thinker wrote:
I wonder, will it not inevitably result in 'love'; mutual love?

it depends on how you define love, perhaps.

by my own personality, i think i could easily come to love just about anyone if i spent considerable amount of time with them in the absence of abuse or malice. a sense of appreciation for who the person is, a feeling of familiarity and probably attachment too (meaning simply that i would probably miss them when they're not around). i feel great love for my friends.

i don't think everyone is that way, though. i think there are some people who have a noticeable sense of emotional detachment from others. they may not even connect very readily with their spouses, and maybe instead, they're living by some cookie-cutter notion of a "normal" life. i imagine such individuals to have a sort of lackluster, passionless quality about their interactions with others. going through the motions, without genuine warmth. maybe there's something they'd rather be doing with their life, like backpacking around europe, but got their girlfriend knocked up in high school and thought marriage was the right thing. as a result, they've long ago disconnected themselves from their passions and dreams, such that they could not connect to their children in a real emotional way.

i think ultimately, i'd have more respect for that kind of person than for one who is never around for their kids. i think the kids would grow up knowing something was missing, though, and that emotional detachment would probably feel like an absence. maybe they would resent it to some extent. but being there for them, going to their school plays and soccer matches, keeping them fed with a roof over their head; i think it does count for a lot.

henry wrote:
It's the expression of love (even if faux) that matters: love, in itself, is useless.

well, useless to everyone else except the person who feels it (who presumably gleans some feeling of warmth from it, some kind of validation, who knows). but yeah, what does it amount to, really? of course, i've seen it happen in the movies where you have the mom telling the kids about the dad who's never around, "he really does love you, in his way," while sighing hopelessly about his incorrigible ability to commit to anything. and it may, in fact, be true.

neither of the two options are ideal, of course. one would hope for a father with both great love and integrity. it doesn't always happen, though.
Thinker13
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Posted 04/12/11 - 12:27 AM:

libertygrl wrote:


it depends on how you define love, perhaps.

by my own personality, i think i could easily come to love just about anyone if i spent considerable amount of time with them in the absence of abuse or malice. a sense of appreciation for who the person is, a feeling of familiarity and probably attachment too (meaning simply that i would probably miss them when they're not around). i feel great love for my friends.

i don't think everyone is that way, though. i think there are some people who have a noticeable sense of emotional detachment from others. they may not even connect very readily with their spouses, and maybe instead, they're living by some cookie-cutter notion of a "normal" life. i imagine such individuals to have a sort of lackluster, passionless quality about their interactions with others. going through the motions, without genuine warmth. maybe there's something they'd rather be doing with their life, like backpacking around europe, but got their girlfriend knocked up in high school and thought marriage was the right thing. as a result, they've long ago disconnected themselves from their passions and dreams, such that they could not connect to their children in a real emotional way.

i think ultimately, i'd have more respect for that kind of person than for one who is never around for their kids. i think the kids would grow up knowing something was missing, though, and that emotional detachment would probably feel like an absence. maybe they would resent it to some extent. but being there for them, going to their school plays and soccer matches, keeping them fed with a roof over their head; i think it does count for a lot.


well, useless to everyone else except the person who feels it (who presumably gleans some feeling of warmth from it, some kind of validation, who knows). but yeah, what does it amount to, really? of course, i've seen it happen in the movies where you have the mom telling the kids about the dad who's never around, "he really does love you, in his way," while sighing hopelessly about his incorrigible ability to commit to anything. and it may, in fact, be true.

neither of the two options are ideal, of course. one would hope for a father with both great love and integrity. it doesn't always happen, though.


Very well articulated lib. It covers almost all sides of the proposition! thumb up
praxis
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Posted 04/12/11 - 11:42 AM:

My father was an extremely responsible man, but emotionally distant. Actually he was also physically distant for many years of my childhood. Anyway, when he died I kind of realized that I had carried around a hope that we would someday connect in a deeper way. That never happened and his death removed any possibility of that ever happening. That was hard to accept but I felt freer letting that go.
libertygrl
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Posted 04/12/11 - 1:04 PM:

hi praxis, i can relate. my dad was pretty emotionally distant too, i think largely from being a war veteran. i think it comes from the era of the 50's too, the popular media didn't really give much guidance to men on how to emotionally connect to their families. my dad was very hard-working though, i respect that. i wish too that we could have connected more before he died.
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