Fromm’s ‘The Art of Loving’

My favorite quote from Erich Fromm’s book ‘The Art of Loving’ is this one:

“There is hardly any activity, any enterprise, which is started with such tremendous hopes and expectations, and yet which fails so regularly, as love.”

Fromm claims this is so because people behave like consumerists when it comes to love, looking for a package of qualities, and that – according to Fromm, and I think he has a point – is not what love is about. He also gives a (at least partial) explanation:

“Almost everything else is considered to be more important than love: success, prestige, money, power – almost all our energy is used for the learning of how to achieve these aims, and almost none to learn the art of loving.”

In other words: when you raise people to become consumerists, they will behave like that. Fromm litterally says people tend to fall in love “they have found the best object available on the market.” I agree that this is a shallow, egocentric way to approach love (and the person you think you ‘love’).

Fromm’s vision is, I would say, the opposite of this consumerist approach. He talks about love as “the active concern for the life and the growth of that which we love”. He also describes love as giving without expecting anything in return, while at the same time having faith that giving love will produce love in the other person in return.

By the way: Although Fromm is not considered an existentialist, this book contains some passages that sound very existentialist.