This is the 2007 version. Click here for the 2017 chapter 16 table of contents.


Fromm wrote, "Love is the most satisfactory solution to the problem of existence" because love solves the basic human problem of existential loneliness with the fewest drawbacks and deepest satisfactions. A love relationship allows one to respond with care and commitment to something outside the ego. It satisfies the need to relate to another human being, unlike solitary forms of creativity. It can be long lasting, unlike the orgiastic states. It can be fresh and authentic, unlike conformity.

How does Fromm define a mature love?

To Fromm, a mature love is one that emphasizes giving rather than getting. This giving is not a painful sacrifice; it is an act of vitality, an expression of one's life energy.

Consider the way athletes, musicians, and actors "put out" while performing. When they try their hardest, they do their best, have the most success and have the most fun. They do not regard it as a painful sacrifice; instead, giving makes them feel strong and capable. If an audience responds to this with appreciation and enthusiasm, it inspires the performer to even greater heights. Similarly, love given freely as an expression of life, not as a painful sacrifice, inspires the same sort of love in return.

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