Love. Life.
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When I Say I Love You

So I listened to this interesting video today

And the rabbi essentially makes the point that many times, when we say we love someone (or something), we actually mean that we love what that person (or thing) does for us. E.g. I love fried chicken. So I kill a chicken and fry it. Does that sound like love of chicken or love of the taste of fried chicken? He extends the analogy to “falling in love”. When a woman falls in love, does she love the man or she loves how he makes her feel? It sounds cold, doesn’t it? I love this man because we make (or people say we make) a cute couple, and we share mutual interests, and have compatible life philosophies, and it makes financial sense to me to split living expenses and child-rearing costs? Bonus points for the fact that I enjoy his company and the gratification that comes with being married in a society that places value on these things. Fish love.

And I’m wondering if fish-love is such a bad thing. Maybe we start from fish love and learn to grow into proper, selfless love. The love of the person totally for their own sake, without thinking of the associated benefits. You watch the video and let me know. Lol. What do you think?


  1. Interesting take on the topic of love. I often frowned upon the selfish versions of love I saw while growing up, but I never thought of it in the Fish Love sense , per se. Especially not when the couple had reasonable and laudable motives.

    Another philosopher you captured the definition of love best for me is St. Paul in 1Chor 13: 4-8 (NKJV)
    “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

    8 Love never fails.”

    This definition of love has always blown me away and is very similar to what the rabbi discussed in the video.

    To answer your last question: I doubt that the Fish Love’ helps us grow into the proper selfless love. I am thinking about irredeemably faulty foundations of many relationships. Remember the quote “If the foundation is wrong, what can the righteous do?”

    Again, like the concept of love, it is really complicated. But I’ll be thinking about this for a very long time.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • I like St. Paul’s definition but honestly it’s more of an aspiration 😂 for me. I think children start with a kind of “fish” love for their parents. With maturity comes the selflessness that allows them to give back. But they always start with “taking”.

  2. Love is giving. Giving has many motives. We might give because we have expectation of something in return or because we attach a sense of value to the object of our giving. Sometimes we give because we have been given, not expecting anything in return. Not sure any form of love is superior to the other. All reasons are valid, yes?

    • Is it really love if it isn’t the utterly selfless love? When I was a child, I defined love as that which made you cry if the person died. But I grew older and cried for people I didn’t know very well so that definition went out the window.

  3. Hmm I don’t know; perhaps he was being too “deep” in terms of defining love? Love is complex but it’s also simple and there are degrees to it. I completely agree with Highlandblue above: love is about giving. I also think you are right in that we grow into [selfless] love. Maybe it starts with a “selfish” kind of love but ultimately becomes selfless. Lots of mothers for instance, love their kids and would still love them if they benefitted nothing from said kids. Also I don’t quite agree with the fish metaphor lol. If I say I love fish; of course I don’t mean that particular fish. I’m clearly saying I love fish because I enjoy it. That’s different from saying I love my parents or my siblings.

    • 😂 so maybe we’ve misused the word then. We should say, “I enjoy eating fish.” And reserve the word “love” for people we actually love.

  4. I think we all expect too much of love and want it to be “spotless”. True love might be selfless, but its also a bit self-seeking as no one (other than Christ) can truly, truly be selfless.

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