These may be the seeds of love, but they have yet to sprout.
You can care for, respond to, and respect another only as deeply as you know him or her.
The effect of genuine, other-oriented giving is profound.
And just as easily, it can spontaneously degenerate when the magic "just isn't there" anymore. Love is the attachment that results from deeply appreciating another's goodness. After all, most love stories don't feature a couple enraptured with each other's ethics. God created us to see ourselves as good (hence our need to either rationalize or regret our wrongdoings). Nice looks, an engaging personality, intelligence, and talent (all of which count for something) may attract you, but goodness is what moves you to love. Just focus on the good in another person (and everyone has some). I was once at an intimate concert in which the performer, a deeply spiritual person, gazed warmly at his audience and said, "I want you to know, I love you all." I smiled tolerantly and thought, "Sure." Looking back, though, I realize my cynicism was misplaced.
Erich Fromm, in his famous treatise "The Art of Loving," noted the sad consequence of this misconception: "There is hardly any activity, any enterprise, which is started with such tremendous hopes and expectations, and yet, which fails so regularly, as love." (That was back in 1956 ― chances are he'd be even more pessimistic today.) So what is love ― real, lasting love? What we value most in ourselves, we value most in others.
A woman I know once explained why she's been happily married for 25 years.
"A relationship has its ups and downs," she told me.
" she cooed.) But in her study of real-life successful marriages Judith Wallerstein reports that "the value these couples placed on the partner's moral qualities was an unexpected finding." To the Jewish mind, it isn't unexpected at all.
Now that you're feeling so warmly toward the entire human race, how can you deepen your love for someone?
The way God created us, actions affect our feelings most.
For example, if you want to become more compassionate, thinking compassionate thoughts may be a start, but giving tzedaka (charity) will get you there.
On another occasion I read something she'd written and offered feedback and praise. Because deep, intimate love emanates from knowledge and giving, it comes not overnight but over time ― which nearly always means after marriage.