Saint Valentine’s Day evokes some of our strongest emotions.  This is because our close relationships uniquely satisfy two fundamental human motivations.

  • Self-concern (getting things that benefit us)
  • Other-concern (being good to others)

Sometimes our desires for self-concern conflict with our desires for other-concern.

  • We feel good about having a nice car and a good job because these things satisfy our desires for self-concern.  But they do little or nothing to satisfy our needs for other-concern.
  • We may unselfishly help others, perhaps even at a cost to ourselves. We can feel good about doing these things, but these behaviors are at least in part unrewarding, because they do nothing for ourselves.

In other cases self-concern and other-concern work together, and these are the behaviors that make us feel the best, and which are therefore likely to persist.

Loving is prototypical in this regard – we love because it makes us feel good and helps us satisfy our personal desires.  But at the same time we love because we care about those we love.

Three things will last forever–faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is love.

Love as self-concern and other-concern