Reflecting on the common perception that agape love means the selfless, no-expectation-of-any-return kind of love, my friend Rob Haskell writes:
So why am I harping on this? It’s just my old complaint about individualism: While loving without getting loved back can be made to sound like the ultimate kind of love, it actually promotes a kind of individualism by ignoring that we are relational beings for whom a mutual benefit to loving is good and healthy. Loving with no expectation of return can be a temporary discipline, but if we make it the ultimate definition of love we are actually undercutting the need for other people. We are setting up the individual self-sufficient lover/giver as the ideal. This person does not need to get anything back when he or she loves because, well, it would not really be love if they did. That just seems kid of cold and twisted if you think about it.
This is a really good reflection on something we rarely question ourselves. Click here to read the full post. It’s really worth reading.
I would say there is nothing wrong with having expectations or hope for a reciprocal response in a loving relationship. There is a problem only when we manipulate or coerce the fulfillment of that expectation. If that is the case, then it is not love. Love must be freely given and received in return.