Timothy So, Msc, is a PhD candidate in Psychology in the University of Cambridge Department of Psychiatry. He is a Research Associate of Cambridge University's Well-being Institute and a Chartered Occupational Psychologist. Timothy is also responsible for both the Traditional and the Simplified Chinese PPND sites. Full bio.
‘At such moments, you realize that you and the other are, in fact, one. It’s a big realization. Survival is the second law of life. The first is that we are all one.’ Joseph Campbell
As Joseph Campbell’s quote suggests, there are certain moments that we feel so connected with another person that we become one entity, and perhaps LOVE is the only force that makes two persons become one Love, magical to many people, is suggested to lead to a variety of positive outcomes for instance happiness, satisfaction and positive emotions (Kim & Hatfield). But what exactly grants love the magic? People hold difference views: the sense of existence and significance, the emotional support from the significant other especially during difficult times, or even the sense of intimacy and companionship. Elijah Mickel (the author of Africa Centered Reality Therapy and Choice Theory) and Cecilia Hall (from Delaware State University) recently wrote about the five presents of perfect love. I would like to share this food for thought with you in February – the month of LOVE – when St. Valentine’s Day in the West and Yuanxiao Jie (元宵節) in the East occur in the same month.
5 presents (5Ps) of perfect love
According to Mickel and Hall, the five presents of perfect love are Purgation, Perception, Praise, Patience and Perfection.
Purgation: a present of forgiveness that purifies and eliminates the elements that constitute negative relationships. We all make mistakes, and forgiveness allows us to revitalize our love with the partner such that the relationship can be sustained.
Perception: a present of insight that reinforces one’s ability to understand the strengths of the partner. Through this process of perceiving and understanding strengths people would be able to assert the value of others. You might be interested in checking it out more from the Values In Action (VIA) Institute.
Praise: a present of affirmation that allows one to see the value in one’s self and one’s partner. Praise is not identical to perception as people do not always express their appreciation to the goodness they see in others. Perception and praise reflects the ability to appreciate the partner’s strengths and competencies as well as sending them your gratitude, both are from 24 character strengths that are considered important by positive psychologists.
Patience: a present of understanding, a process of sifting out and organizing information to make things comprehensible. According to the authors, patience allows people understand that perfection is a goal which takes time. It thus empowers people to endure and solve the problems confront them throughout the process. Patience might be bitter, yet its fruit would definitely be sweet.
Linking up the 5-Ps
Though the authors did not go into details the connections among the five presents of perfect love, I see them closely intertwined: you can’t praise without perceiving other’s strengths, and it is difficult to forgive without patience and understanding. And more importantly, the first four presents: Purgation, Perception, Praise and Patience, are actually keys towards perfect loving relationships. Only with the ability to understand and to forgive, as well as to appreciate and to praise, would a person be able to achieve perfect love as well as the positive outcomes associated with love. No one is perfect, but love can be!
Sharing the 5ps
One should also bear in mind that healthy love relationship should be based on reciprocity. There should be a balance between the two persons in love. A perfect love requires that the needs of both to be fulfilled. The 5Ps hence illustrate how to behave, to act, to interact with our lovers in a better way and fulfil their needs. When one is in love, one acts lovingly. According to Glasser (1965, p. 10), “To either love or allow ourselves to be loved is not enough, we must do both.” So, spreading the 5Ps to those who are in love is necessary – let us overcome all the moments of disagreements, selfishness, loss, pain and problems.
Lastly, the 5Ps obviously should not be limited to romantic love. Be it your parents, siblings, children or friends, you should also strive for these five presents in your love towards them. After spending a sweet moment with your lover on the lovely St. Valentine’s day and Chinese Yuanxiao Jie, are you ready to present your 5 presents of love to people around you?
Author notes: This article is dedicated to my parents, my love and every of my friends. I love you!
Glasser, W. (1965). Reality Therapy: A New Approach to Psychiatry (Colophon Books). New York: Harper & Row.
Mickel, E. (2005). Africa Centered Reality Therapy and Choice Theory. Trenton, New Jersey: Africa World Press
Mickel, E., & Hall, C. (2008). Choosing to love: The essentials of loving (presents and problems). International Journal of Reality Therapy, 27, 30-34.
Kim, J., & Hatfield, E. (2004). Love types and subjective well-being: A cross cultural study. Social Behavior and Personality, 32, 173-182.