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The nature of love is about paying attention to the people who matter, about still giving when you are too tired to give. Be a mother who listens, a father who cuddles, a friend who calls back, a helping neighbor, a loving child. That emphasis on love in our everyday lives may be the best of that quiet revolution in psychology, the one that changed the way we think about love and relationship almost without our noticing that had happened. We take for granted now that parents should hug their children, that relationships are worth the time, that taking care of each other is part of the good life. It is such a good foundation that it’s almost astonishing to consider how recent it is. For that foundation under our feet we owe a debt to Harry Harlow and to all the scientists who believed and worked toward a psychology of the heart. At the end, in Harry’s handiwork, there’s nothing sentimental about love, no sunlit clouds and glory notes—it’s a substantial, earthbound connection, grounded in effort, kindness, and decency. Learning to love, Harry liked to say, is really about learning to live. Perhaps everyday affection seems a small facet of love. Perhaps, though, it is the modest, steady responses that see us through day after day, that stretch into a life of close and loving relationships. Or, as Harry Harlow wrote to a friend, “Perhaps one should always be modest when talking about love.”

on Harry Harlow

When you’re a flame you’ll burn forever
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