Welcome to the archived web site of
Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D. Psychologist (1950-2013)
California License No. PSY 10092
Specializing in Presence-Centered Therapy
balancing mind and heart, body and spirit
Now in memoriam - This website is no longer being updated
Articles by Dr. Friedman (except where noted otherwise)
For Valentine's Day, Give Mature Love
© 2011 by Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
[Originally in The Sun, San Bernardino, California, Thursday February 14, 1991, page A7]
The historical roots of St. Valentine's Day are like love: hurt-prone, puzzling and joyous. The legendary Saint Valentine was not one, but two famous martyrs living in Rome in the third century. One was a physician-priest and the other was a bishop. Neither escaped the persecution of Christians at that time, resulting in their deaths on this date.
February 14th, meanwhile, was set aside as a lover's festival, commencing from at least the 14th century. By 1450, a valentine was a person of the opposite sex chosen on Feb. 14th as a lover, sweetheart or special friend for the coming year.
The custom of sending sentimental cards and gifts called valentines dates from the 16th century. This practice was not related to either of the two St. Valentines. In fact, these paper valentines might well have been the very first greeting cards.
This secular holiday has never quite made it to be a national holiday, although florists and candy makers might happily disagree. We'd sooner honor politicians that became presidents than the lover inside each of us. Considering that love is the lifeblood of our future as a civilization, our country has some peculiar priorities, indeed.
If popular culture as expressed in music, film and print media can be relied upon, what does it proclaim about love? We seem fascinated with themes of attraction, repulsion, sex, betrayal and reconciliation.
In "real life," most of us gravitate to individuals and get drawn into involvements that recreate the love we knew in our experience - no matter how hurtful and self-defeating or how radiant and life-validating it is. But, to borrow a line from Peggy Lee, "Is that all there is?"
I offer the following five levels of "love" as a useful mapping of emotional development in intimate encounters. Remember, you can only find the level of loving you're capable of giving:
On the occasion of St. Valentine's Day and lovers' festival, it rings true that anyone I've ever unquestionably loved, I still love. It's only human, I imagine. Love doesn't, nor can it, die.
Each one of us can choose daily to keep love alive and well, and ascend this ladder of our love evolvement. On this day, let's honor those courageous individuals in committed relationships that arise to mature loving. Remember that when responsibly handled, it's simply not possible to love too much!
Friedman, of Redlands, is a writer and licensed psychologist practicing in Loma Linda. He also is associated with CPC Rancho Lindo Hospital in Fontana.
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