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The Benefits of Love

The greatest thing you’ll ever learn
Is just to love and be loved in return.

(“Nature Boy,” Eden Ahbez, 1948)

You might ask yourself, “Is love worth it?” By all accounts, creating a long-lasting, loving relationship takes a lot of hard work, determination, and commitment, so it’s logical to wonder what could possibly make all that effort worthwhile. It’s the benefits that make it worthwhile.

On an existential level, Erich Fromm postulates that love is the only sane response to the problem of human existence. He explains that because humans possess reason, we have the self-awareness to know that we are a separate entity in the world. We are aware of our short life span, that we had no say in being born and may die either before those we love or after them, and that we have little control over this condition. Fromm contends that this helplessness against the forces of nature makes existence an “unbearable prison.” To cope with this realization, humans reach out to the world around them. For Fromm then, “the deepest need of man . . . is the need to overcome his separateness, to leave the prison of his aloneness.”

The question becomes, how do we do this?

The history of religion and philosophy includes our endless attempts to cope with this predicament. For Fromm, the answer lies in “the achievement of interpersonal union with another person, in love.” He believes that the desire for this union with another is the “force which keeps the human race together, the clan, the family, society.” In fact, this desire is so fundamental he asserts that, “Without love, humanity could not exist for a day.” Fromm maintains that love is the only answer to the emptiness of life. It is an active power that unites each of us with others for the purpose of overcoming innate isolation and separateness. In love, “the paradox occurs that two beings become one and yet remain two.”

So the first benefit of love is that it helps us overcome Fromm’s “unbearable prison” of aloneness. I can think of no greater benefit.

This post is an excerpt from The Essential Rules for Love: A Practical Guide to Creating a Harmonious, Healthy, and Happy Relationship.

“This is a book born of tears and laughter. There is certainly no shortage of authors who have tackled this subject but few have overturned as many rocks along the way and unearthed such a wealth of insights in the process. Those of us who have managed to spend time with Mr. Russotti will attest to his resolve.”
- William Parker, LCSW
“We get education for our careers but we rarely ever get education for our relationships. Phil’s The Essential Rules of Love is a book that I WISH I had before I was married and divorced.”
- Theadora Vosse, Single or Divorced Relationship Podcaster
“The book was purchased as a gift for Valentine's Day, but instead of giving it away, I gave it to myself.”
- Emily C.
“This is, as it must be, primarily a love story. One told with striking depth of feeling.”
- Paul D.