When I talked about Actions Speak Louder Than Words, I mentioned a Spanish refrain, “amor con amor se paga.” Literally this would be: “love is paid for with love.” But the English translation would usually be “one good turn deserves another.” When we talk about paying for love, we are usually referring to something many would say is not really love, at least not Good Love. But love is a two way street, with give and take, ideally in the form of true sharing. So both sides should be paying, or giving love in return for the love they receive.
But I was recently asked, in Spanish, “if love is paid for with love, what about unlove?” First I had to ponder the word “desamor”which I literally translated unlove. But what is the opposite of love? What is unlove? In Good Love Means Good Passion I observed that many people would say that the opposite of love is hate. But I disagree. Both love and hate involve passion, and the focusing of attention on a specific object. I believe that the opposite of love is apathy. With apathy, the person does not care, is not focused on the object at all, and has a complete lack of passion towards the object.
The usual English translation of “desamor,” my “unlove,” is “indifference,” and many have opined that the opposite of love is indifference, similar to my thoughts on apathy. Pope John Paul II had an interesting take. He said that the opposite of love was neither hate nor indifference, but was use of another person. He meant that the opposite of love is when people use other people. Perhaps using someone with indifference best captures the idea of “unlove.”
I have shared the web site www.lovefraud.com before, where the horror of sociopaths using their victims is discussed. A discussion there observed that using people is more dangerous than hating them, because you can use someone else while fooling yourself (self deceit is the third and worst kind of lie) into thinking you love them. The possibly greater danger is that you can use someone else while fooling them into thinking you love them. The word that would be used here in Spanish for “to fool” would be “engañar,” which can also be translated to trick or to deceive, and is the verb used for being unfaithful to your spouse.
To pay for love also conjures up the image of finances, which can be an unsavory thought. But to pay implies that there is a debt that must be repaid. There is a song in Spanish by Diego Torres that takes the financial payment a step further when he sings “If I knew how to amortize your lack of love and my faith” (Si supiera amortizar tu desamor y mi fe). That would be the literal translation, which conjures up an image of paying off a debt by making regular payments over a period of time.
When I talk about paying for love with love, debts and amortizations, I have to ask myself, do I take actions to show and demonstrate love, to give love, to share love, or do I focus on myself. I’d like to think that paying for love with love doesn’t really mean one good turn deserves another, and that there is a debt owed. I’d rather think that it means that giving love will bring love, and there will be a positive sharing of love.
I have to recognize that this isn’t always true. I can think of cases where I gave as a result of loving someone, and received little other than feeling used and discarded. But what is more bothersome is remembering when I have used and then abandoned someone. As I have shared before, for me selfishness is the root of all evil. Next week I’ll talk about the foundation to finding an answer or a response to many issues and struggles we all face, including paying for love and unlove.