Do you believe it is possible to love another person more than you love yourself?

Hello, here is what is going on. It is nothing really serious but I am having a mocking argument with my girlfriend. We were discussing the issue of love and whether it is possible for a person to love another more than they love themselves or simply to deceive themselves about that or perhaps lie. I say yes, from my own experience, because my daughter’s life is more important to me than my own. My girlfriend disagrees and it is her opinion that people who say that are actually self-deceived because of societal pressure. Anyway I was wondering what you guys think and thought it might be an interesting discussion.

So what’s her opinion of the countless stories of people who sacrifice themselves for the safety of others?

Basically she says that people who say or even act as if they love other people more than they love themselves are doing so out of ego or the desire to be perceived as altruistic. I do not think I should say very much more about her position because after all it is not what I believe. If she wants to join the message board you can ask her.

When I had to have emergency surgery a few years ago, I contemplated the possibility that I might die, and my only concern was how it would devastate my family, especially my daughters. I also would have been very comforted by having my husband with me, but I made him stay home because the girls would be more comfortable with him than any other caregiver.

I can’t help thinking that your girlfriend is a little irked to hear that you love your daughter more than her, and probably always will (which is as it should be IMHO, but maybe not terribly romantic!)

Sounds to me like your girlfriend is a sociopath.

Dump her.

You know, 2011 was a pretty crap year for me, and more than once I thought things would be a lot easier if I were to just end it all; however, I never even had an opportunity to actually full formulate the thought in my head because anytime my mind wandered that way, I thought about my little boy and how much he needs his mum, rendering the idea totally impossible - not even worthy of attention.

I think perhaps miss elizabeth about your girlfriend; however, I also think perhaps your girlfriend is in her early 20s. Many young women* seem to have a rather unfortunate spell they go through in their early 20s where it seems they are incapable of thinking of anyone other than themselves. Most of them grow out of it.

*Maybe young men have this phase too - I’ve just never seen it as pronounced and often as with young women.

I think it’s sad that your girlfriend doesn’t think it’s possible to love someone more than you love yourself. It certainly is possible as you know. I think Unauthorized Cinnamon is right and your gf just doesn’t want to think she takes second stage to anyone.

I love my son more than anyone else on earth, even myself. I love my husband dearly, but I don’t think I love him more than myself. Certainly, he is next…and it’s really, really close. But…there is only one person on this earth I would risk my life for and that is my son.

A lot of people don’t even like themselves let alone love themselves so the bar isn’t set very high to begin with for many. As others have said, it is easy for many people to love their children more than anyone else. I do and I think that is normal. I get a little spooked out when people say they love anyone more than their children including their partner or themselves. It is literally unnatural IMHO and doesn’t speak well of that person. I assume your girlfriend doesn’t have any kids of her own. If she does, you might want to take her comments as a sign of other traits as well. It doesn’t have to be children however. It is possible for people to love many different types of people more than themselves.

I did not start this thread to get relationship advice so I will ignore the calls to dump her and also any calls not to. But I will say two things about her. First my girlfriend has always been clear that she believed it was my or any parent’s responsibility to love their children more than any other person such a spouse or lover; she just did not believe that anyone’s motives are ever completely unselfish or as simple as they seem on the surface. Second we were not talking about my affections for her versus my daughter in the first place just about the notion of selfless love in general.

Of course it’s possible. Happens with parents and kids all the time. I’ve experienced it myself with loved ones. When I was suicidal, the main thing stopping me from going through with it was knowing how it would hurt others.

Your girlfriend has probably been exposed to the argument that that no truly altruistic acts exist. We have done that one a number of times of these boards and it tends to come up in colleges as well. It is an almost pointless thing to argue about because neither side can win the argument. For every example of a supposedly altruistic act, they will have a reason why it isn’t actually altruistic but completely self-serving instead. She will grow out of it.

The hardest example for them to explain away that I have come up with are those monks that set themselves on fire to protest war. They don’t even believe in an afterlife in the sense of something like Heaven. Ask her to explain that one.

Oh good lord, yes. Whatever it is about being a parent, it operates somewhere extremely deep in your brain. If you could bottle this stuff, it would have to be a controlled substance.

But you don’t know that unless you’ve been there. I knew I wanted to be a father, but I really didn’t have any idea how it would really feel. None at all.

It is certainly possible to have a pretty low self-esteem and and be smitten with someone. That happens all the time. But that could be a shallow, self-serving kind of love.

But I could also argue that you can’t truly, unselfishly love another person if you don’t first have that love within you. How much we could argue that depends on how far down the philosophical hole we want to go.

I would say that loving one’s own child more than oneself is selfish because it’s all about passing those genes along. If I sacrifice myself to save my daughter - my genes live longer and have a better chance at being replicated again (grandchildren) than if I live and she dies.

Plus she’s so adorable - who wouldn’t sacrifice themselves for her???

I’d argue that one would sacrifice no less for their adopted child, though.

Your girlfriend is wrong. She, personally may not be capable of it, but it’s awfully ignorant to presume that no one else could do something simply because you can’t.

Your girlfriend sounds close-minded, deluded, and unaware of how mental illness affects real people. Some people with low self-worth are incapable of loving themselves at all, much less loving themselves more than another person. I’ve gone through phases where I loved *a person I didn’t even know *more than I loved myself.

That may well be true - I’ve got the one biological, so I can’t say. It’s just so…innate - that feeling of protection.

Certainly people act as if they loved others more than themselves, and believe that they love others more than themselves. Whether they actually do appears to me an issue that is ‘not disprovable’, as there are no criteria for determining what one’s “true” motives are, or for measuring their significance.

I will say this: that commonly people act (and believe) they love others more than themselves because they have, as it were, a different definition for what constitutes “themselves”. A parent may well consider his or her family (whether biological or adopted) as in a way “them” - and their children’s lives as more important than their own; a soldier may well consider the other members of his (or her) unit as “them” (it is commonly stated, though I have no direct experience of soldiering, that soldiers more commonly act bravely for their buddies, as opposed to for a cause or ideology); a saint (or a lunatic) may believe that they are acting for all of humanity …

When (if) your girlfriend has her first child, she’ll understand. Some people don’t need that and can understand self-sacrificial love without having kids, but it’s the most reliable method.