The one love:

I was asked by a reader why 60% of all relationships in America fail.


The Inuit have 15 root words and at least 24 names for snow. They describe the many properties of snow in all its stages. We have one word for Love. Sex, desire, or romance are not love or even states of love. Friendship is a form of love, charity is a form of love, the parent/child bond is a form of love… but there are infinitely more.


Why is this important? Because I see too many people go into, maintain and perpetuate crappy relationships. One reason is that we have so few ways to speak of or understand love.

People in America seem to have one idea of love and they try to force everything to fit that mold. When their lives don’t reflect their ideal of love, they splinter their denial into health issues, behavioral issues, domestic conflict, and all forms of blame and chaos.  If people had names for the many forms of love, they would be able to help each other without forcing misplaced relationships. It would be possible to have a friend of the opposite sex without sleeping with them. We could perhaps understand that how we feel about our partners will change over time. People  break up when they “fall out of love” because they don’t understand that love evolves as experience grows.


All people in all types of relationships will “fall out of” whatever it was that initiated the relationship in the first place.


Wise love takes a lifetime together to develop, as it is an accumulation of many forms over time. Friendship, hate, disappointment, acceptance, awe, affirmation, and respect are all facets and faces of love.


Wise love can never exist without active communication and negotiation. One sided love is a fantasy… and often, just stupidity.


If you have a firm picture of what something should be than you never look at what it really is. Love is active and changing, like water to snow to ice to vapor; it is all still water. If you have one name for love odds are you will end up alone.


Dr. Brilliant Cliché


Granny Doctor adds- The Inuit have so many different ways to describe snow because they need to be that specific about it’s characteristics in order to stay alive. If we thought love was as intrinsic to our own survival, we would be far more specific. Just look at how many different names there are for Starbucks coffee.


But here’s something to consider: according to national mortality data in England and Wales, divorced men in their 60’s have a 70 percent higher death rate than their married counterparts. Although the death rate isn’t quite as high for women, single women of every age still have higher death rates than married women at every age. And Harvard University sociologists have noted that men are  22 percent (and women 17 percent) more likely to die after the death of a spouse. Love may be more intrinsic to our survival than we know.


I don’t think most people have any idea what love is. They know what love is in the movies. But in the movies the writers leave a lot out. They leave out the years that come after the honeymoon. They leave out going to the bathroom and taking out the garbage. They leave out mood swings, and buried childhood issues and they sure as hell leave out the cellulite and the stretch marks.


We are not taught about love in school. We get sex education, but not love education. We confuse passion and infatuation for love because no one ever sold a newspaper with sensational stories about commitment and caring. We take the word love and use it to sell cars and condoms.


As Dr. Brilliant often says, we can only know what we know.

Who is teaching any of us what love is?


About Dr. Brilliant Cliché

Dr. Brilliant Cliché and the Granny Dr. are a fictional web presence and advice blog. Together we offer a joint perspective that is deep but not academic, entertaining but not fluff, and educated yet street smart. By joining the internet community we hope to share thoughts and stimulate insightful conversation around pressing issues that affect us all. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts. (This is not a site for therapy nor does it intend to replace medical or other professional care. ) You can leave comments here or email The Dr. at and don’t forget to like us on facebook. Our facebook page is Dr. Brilliant Cliche
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8 Responses to The one love:

  1. Elizabeth Aloisio says:

    I agree. I agree! I like the term ” wise love’. Most young people would never understand what those two words have to do with each other.
    Disney movies have such an impact on our young girls it is unfortunate they don’t develop a love story that adds to “the happy ending”. Happy endings take work! Girls would be more prepared if they had even a clue to this fact.
    I would love to hear more about wise love developing through both good feelings as well as those you mentioned such as” hate and disappointment “.

  2. Comments on THE ONE LOVE:


    Updated June 13, 2011 – 11:26PM EDT

    Refer them to read Stendhal’s “Love,” 1822, essential for anyone with romantic ideas.


    Posted June 13, 2011 – 11:27PM EDT

    Good question….


    Posted June 13, 2011 – 11:32PM EDT

    Marriage has become disposable in the US as the moral fiber of our nation has declined with progressive policies and anti Christian rhetoric becomes more pervasive in society.


    Posted June 13, 2011 – 11:35PM EDT

    Marriage has become disposable in the US as people realize that there’s no earthly reason that relationships must last forever in order to have been worthwhile. And Christianity be damned! What’s that got to do with love and marriage?


    Posted June 13, 2011 – 11:38PM EDT

    Anyone dispute the idea that marriage is the sacrificial lamb of the liberal sex movement over the past sixty years? With the decline of family goes the decline of religion.


    Posted June 13, 2011 – 11:38PM EDT

    @ RSJACOBSON – Yikes a treatise on love whilst he dies of syphilis , Ironic?


    Posted June 13, 2011 – 11:41PM EDT

    Wow, wang, not going to get into a religious debate, but obviously you have never read nor even remotely understand the basic tenants of the teachings of Jesus Christ nor of JudeoChristian ethics and morality.


    Posted June 13, 2011 – 11:42PM EDT

    I think the economy destroyed the family. Isn’t marriage a construct of religion?


    Posted June 13, 2011 – 11:45PM EDT

    There are a few things best learned the hard way. Love is one.


    Posted June 13, 2011 – 11:46PM EDT

    Someone missed the sarcasm.


    Posted June 13, 2011 – 11:50PM EDT

    Marriage was an economic relationship, it was given the trappings of religion and controlled by the state. If you don’t raise your own children, then the community becomes responsible for them, so it was appropriate to try to keep them together.
    But now, few women have to have a man in their lives to protect them and their young, and most of them have the ability to feed them on their own. This is a function of the liberalization of ideas about our roles, the increased ooportunity to work, and the increased role of society in supporting individuals. Food stamps and welfare make living less unstable. Thus, if you are not happy with your partner, it is easier to depart.
    None of this has to do with Christianity, per se.


    Posted June 13, 2011 – 11:55PM EDT

    BTW, GJ, I like the column. I went through a painful divorce (had truly never planned on getting married, then when married could never have conceived on getting divorce.) I think if he had waited out our separation and not turned so angry and ugly at my percieved desertion, and I hadn’t responded in kind that things might have worked out. We were going through a perfect storm of circumstances, and had never been ones to express our feelings to each other, just seemed to always harmonize. Because we had no words for it, when it fell apart, we couldn’t tell each other what was happening and reverted to childish sulking and accusations.


    Posted June 14, 2011 – 12:01AM EDT

    @doc Addams – I experienced something similar. I married more or less my first serious girlfriend at a young age. Neither of us had the experience or skills to make it work out. She said she fell out of love. I didn’t have any idea what she meant then, and now know it to be bullshit. We just were too naive to know we weren’t communicating well, we were from entirely different cultures and that caused all kinds of miscommunication and issues. It blew up once we had kids, play time was over.

    Oh and by the way marital counseling sucked, was useless and made things worse.

    It’s ironic I refer people to it still but they are often way to passive, it should run like AA for it to be successful.


    Posted June 14, 2011 – 12:07AM EDT

    drnopain, I know that Christians credit their religion for their ethical ideology (which more rightly derive from common sense and personal experience), but I wonder if you’re the one who doesn’t understand Christianity’s teachings about family and relationships. I might posit that the new testament in general, and St. Paul in particular, spent virtually no time in directing people how to manage marriage and family, if for no other reason that they anticipated judgment day to come well within their lifetimes, making marriage and childrearing (and other forms of long range planning) unimportant.


    Posted June 14, 2011 – 08:23AM EDT

    Elizabeth Gilbert, who wrote Eat, Pray, Love wrote a more non-fiction story called Commitment. It’s about the way various cultures view the marital relationship. Very interesting read. Western culture is tied up in “love” while many other cultures view marriage as a financial relationship or business partnership. I’m not sure which view is better…


    Posted June 14, 2011 – 08:25AM EDT

    Why are we equating marriage to love? So far, the only real proof of anything resembling ideal love I see in the eyes of my little boy and my dad, sister and brother. That. Is. It.


    Posted June 14, 2011 – 08:51AM EDT

    imsa – I see love in ice cream, in fact, if I really, really like someone – I’ll say I like you better than ice cream.
    I know, I know – other people see it in beer, or cheetos or whatever – but ice cream is the thing for me.

    Oh, and in the eyes of my kids as well…except for the teenager….hopefully that’ll change in 10 or 20 years.


    Posted June 14, 2011 – 10:07AM EDT

    In my completely uninformed opinion, the trouble comes when we expect love to come before marriage. Real love comes long after, when it’s allowed. The only “love at first sight” I’ve ever experienced was the day my daughter was born.


    Posted June 14, 2011 – 10:38AM EDT

    “Western culture is tied up in “love” while many other cultures view marriage as a financial relationship or business partnership. I’m not sure which view is better…”

    I went to a wedding once from a friend who had a different cultural background. What I found interesting was that this was like a contract about how they would live their lives together. They actually signed a ritual contract. Their courting was only for a few months before they got engaged and married. And this was normal in their culture. So far it seems to be working.


    Posted June 14, 2011 – 10:58AM EDT

    In my mind, real love is not a “feeling” but a verb. It is something you do.

    The Greeks had several words for Love:

    Agape- selfless love of other. A real verb. You show agape when you care for people, even if you don’t like them.

    Eros- sexual love

    Philia- friendship, brotherhood

    Storge- fondness through familiarity- like your work buddies, 2nd cousins, neighbors 3 doors down, etc.

    As for marriage, our culture has gone from monogamy being the standard, to serial polygamy being normal.

    As a young person, I would have recoiled at the idea of arranged marriages. I do know a few Indian women in my medical school class who elected to have arrangements. I wonder how they are faring now.


    Family Medicine

    Posted June 14, 2011 – 11:14AM EDT

    Umm, the New Testament does speak of love and marriage, quite frequently.


    Posted June 14, 2011 – 12:22PM EDT

    peaches says “In my mind, real love is not a “feeling” but a verb. It is something you do.”

    I agree, although in my mind, “feeling” is also something you do, often while you’re doing love…

    oh, and nebdoc, could you help edify me re: new testament and love, marriage, childrearing, family planning etc? I’ve found little, and I’ve looked pretty hard.


    Posted June 14, 2011 – 01:16PM EDT

    @SamuelE it’s called a katuba and its like a prenuptial but in a way more binding, it’s a good idea, ones intentions and obligations are clearly spelled out


    Posted June 14, 2011 – 03:46PM EDT

    Here’s where it says about Love. I consider this the best part of the Bible. Nothing explicit about salvation, nothing about religion, nothing about right or wrong, nothing against gays, no heaven, no hell, no preconditions, not even the benefit of external reward in any form:

    1 Corinthians 13

    1 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
    2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
    3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.
    4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
    5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
    6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
    7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

    8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
    9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part,
    10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.
    11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.
    12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

    13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.…


    Posted June 14, 2011 – 04:20PM EDT

    wanglib – Sometimes you have to read it for yourself, in context and not just Google search for terms. Not saying that is what you are doing, but that is what I have found.


    Updated June 14, 2011 – 04:36PM EDT

    no offence, allwind, but as poetic and touching as that passage may be, it is a bit too abstract to be useful. It certainly won’t help drop the divorce rate. We need concrete advice in running households and rearing children!
    and nebdoc, I just picked up the book and slogged through it. Finishing was my second greatest accomplishment, right after finishing atlas shrugged.


    Posted June 14, 2011 – 04:47PM EDT

    This would probably work, wanglib:……


    Posted June 14, 2011 – 04:54PM EDT

    I’m sure those would work, allwind. I didn’t mean to imply that there was no help anywhere; just that christianity isn’t the place to look for it; hence my hypothesis that the anti christian rhetoric is innocent of causing the high divorce rate.
    I’ve reached a new low; I’m actually defending anti christian rhetoric from slander…


    Posted June 14, 2011 – 05:07PM EDT

    Oh, I see. Well, I can’t argue with that.

    I cannot say Christianity is the source of all the goodness in the world myself. It strives to be, and I personally think I strive better to be good because of what I learned as a Christian. Would I be different otherwise? Dunno.

    The impact of the anti-Christian rhetoric is debatable, even among Christians. In my own household even, for instance (think CA Prop 8).


    Posted June 14, 2011 – 05:14PM EDT

    fair enough, allwind, but from what I can discern of you through this sermonastic veil, I believe that you would strive to be good in virtually any scenario, containing christianity or no…


    Posted June 14, 2011 – 06:32PM EDT

    “Marriage has become disposable in the US as the moral fiber of our nation has declined with progressive policies and anti Christian rhetoric becomes more pervasive in society.”

    Marriage has become “disposable” as the women finally got freedom to use birth control and get gainful employment, if they wanted it.

    I don not see “anti-Christian” rhetoric, may be anti-religion in general to some degree. As Libertarian agnostic I do not see it as bad thing necessarily, as long as freedom of religion is maintained


    Posted June 14, 2011 – 09:10PM EDT

    A few comments/observations:

    People get married in church. They divorce in court.
    Pro-life (or anti-abortion, depending how you look at it) is generally regarded as a stand taken typically by someone belonging to the religious/conservative right.
    Anti-gay marriage is also a stand taken by conservatives.

    In church it is common to hear the priest talk about family and the sanctity of that core unit. Respect your parents, love your spouse, teach your kids the right stuff, etc. I’m not sure these things are referenced directly/explicitly in the Bible, but they’re in there.

    So, when one school of thought, or whatever you wish to call it, goes against these things, Christians in general see it as an attack on Christianity.

    Not to say that Christians in general are a moral bunch, of course. That’s beside the point.


    Posted June 15, 2011 – 01:55PM EDT

    >>People get married in church. They divorce in court. <>Instead of the best man, you can have the worst man (which I take it might as well be your lawyer<<


    Don’t forget the child abuser/ I mean advocate.


    Posted June 15, 2011 – 02:20PM EDT

    And no flowers, definitely no flowers.. lol

  3. T. says:

    Dr. C,
    Cultural expectations do impact our actions, especially in relationships. In my observation, Eastern cultures are more focused on ‘sense of responsibility’. Marriage is not considered a contract between two people alone, but the family, and indeed, the whole social circle/community (perhaps like Western society 70 or so years ago, but I am no expert). Most couples pull through rough times and ‘make it work’ because that is the expectation. To not fulfill that expectation is not an option. Love is not usually defined as an ‘all well’ situation, but as ‘having fulfilled one’s responsibility’ or ‘job well done’! Perhaps not the ideal situation, and one that might not sound very romantic by American standards, but then, everyone doesn’t have to live by American standards! Everything is relative in life.

  4. Dear T.

    Yes, your ‘sense of responsibility’ is analogous to the concept of emptiness. It is not the couple themselves but their entire web of associations, all that meets through them and all they affect from them. I worked with a Doctor whose book more or less borrowed this concept. It was called family network theory. In it you focus on and pull in as many people as you can from a couples or individuals family network. For any change in one is a change in them all.

    In a more general sense it is every behavior you do is like throwing a pebble in a pond. The ripples are the consequences that came from that behavior. Duty is taking responsibility for those ripples as best you can.

    Dr. B.C

  5. T. says:

    Dr. C…
    What do you mean, “concept of emptiness”? Are you saying couples that respond to that ‘sense of responsiibility’ don’t have fulfilling relationships? That they are living for others and not for eachother? Please elaborate.

  6. Dear T,

    Not at all, The Buddhist concept of emptiness is just that nothing exists in and of itself outside of or separate from all the connections that run into and out from that entity. I.E. we are a point of time and space that connects all that has come before us and all that will come from us. The couple’s connection to each other is what influences their children by role modeling to them what love is. This was role modeled by the couples parents and will in turn be modeled by the couples kids. That’s why one new skill learned by anyone in a family is so powerful as it changes the path of all who come after that person forever. Thus the opposite of what our culture teaches is true; a couples living for each other is living for others.

    Dr. Brilliant cliché

  7. T. says:

    Dr. C…
    That makes sense. However, I am not sure which is better: living for oneself, or living for others. As with everything else, I suppose, the answer lies somewhere in between!
    Thanks for clarifying the point for me.

  8. Dear T.

    Yes, everything always boils down to balance but also in the understanding that living for oneself and living for others can coincide it is not either or.

    Dr. B.C.

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