All About Love: New Visions by bell hooks

Relationships are treated like Dixie cups. They are the same. They are disposable. If it does not work, drop it, throw it away, get another.
Committed bonds (including marriage) cannot last when this is the prevailing logic. Most of us are unclear about what to do to protect and strengthen caring bonds when our self-centered needs are not being met.

It still took years for me to let go of learned patterns of behavior that negated my capacity to give and receive love. One pattern that made the practice of love especially difficult was my constantly choosing to be with men who were emotionally wounded, who were not that interested in loving, even though they desired to be loved. I wanted to know love but was afraid to be intimate. By choosing men who were not interested in being loving, I was able to practice giving love but always within an unfufilling context. Naturally, my need to receive love was not met.

Women are often belittled for trying to resurrect these men and bring them back to life and to love. They are in a world that would be even more alienated and violent if caring women did not do the work of teaching men who have lost touch with themselves how to love again. This labor of love is futile only when the men in question refuse to awaken, refuse growth. At this point it is a gesture of self-love for women to break their commitment and move on.

Understanding knowledge as an essential element of love is vital because we are bombarded daily with messages that tell us love is about mystery, about that which cannot be known. We see movies in which people are represented as being in love who never talk with one another, who fall into bed without ever discussing their bodies, their sexual needs, their likes and dislikes. Indeed, the message is received from the mass media is that knowledge makes love less compelling; that it is ignorance that gives love its erotic and transgressive edge. These messages are brought to us by profiteering producers who have no clue about the art of loving, who substitute their mystified visions because they do not really know how to genuinely portray loving interaction.

The essence of true love is mutual recognition-two individuals seeing each other as they really are. We all know that the usual approach is to meet someone we like and put our best self forward, or even at times a false self, one we believe will be more appealing to the person we want to attract. When our real self appears in its entirety, when the good behavior becomes too much to maintain or the masks are taken away, disappointment comes. All too often individuals feel, after the fact-when feelings are hurt and hearts are broken-that it was a case of mistaken identity, that the loved one is a stranger. They saw what they wanted to see rather than what was really there.

As more people have found the courage to break through shame and speak about woundedness in their lives, we are now subjected to a mean-spirited cultural response, where all talk of woundedness is mocked. The belittling of anyone’s attempt to name a context within which they were wounded, were made a victim, is a form of shaming. It is psychological terrorism. Shaming breaks our hearts.

Young people are cynical about love. Ultimately, cynicism is the great mask of the disappointed and betrayed heart.