Love & personal relationships (revised!)

It will not be disputed that our sense of identity, of who we are, is, in part at least, constituted by the relationships we have with other individuals, and that our potential for happiness is a function of how those relationships fare. One aspect moreover that is crucial for people in their relationships, that is indeed the measure for the importance of other matters, is the way they actually feel towards each other, including their perception of the attitude the other has towards them.
In other words, to flourish, a personal relationship must be a community of affection.
Now there are two key concepts implied here: those of a degree of reciprocity and of a degree of love.
How much reciprocity, and, first, what exactly is involved in love?

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Caritas deus non est
Reflections on the Insufficiency of Christian Love

One might suppose that Pope Benedict XVI's Encyclical on Christian Love (DEUS CARITAS EST) would be of interest only to those who believe, whether firmly or vaguely, in the God of Christianity. But it must in fact also be of interest to all those who believe in love, again whether firmly or vaguely. A critical examination of this well-formulated restatement of traditional beliefs and understandings can throw light on both the nature of love and the nature of religion, and help us guard against fatal misapprehensions.

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