What is love

If the true definition of love is “our involuntary response to virtue if we are virtuous” I will strive every day to actually mean the words when I say “I love you

Love is having difficult conversations that provoke anxiety and fear. 

Love is standing tall in your convictions of truth and reason despite the waves of opposition. 

Love is asking questions of curiousity even if it makes you uncomfortable. 

Love is accepting that you were wrong in the past. 

Love is accepting another persons emotional experience with openness and honesty. 

Love is taking responsibility for all your actions. 

Love is allowing another to have inconvenient needs. 

Love is doing whatever it takes to become a better, more virtuous human being. 

Relationships, Sobriety and Love

Virtue is under the skin

Virtue is UNDER the skin

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, a post about romantic relationships should be appropriate. The majority of “love-based” relationships I have witnessed (and a great deal of my own past relationships) are based on lust, co-dependancy, lies, hedging, projection, insecurities, manipulation, bickering, and outright abuse.

All of these relationship problems can be solved on the first or second date, saving you energy, money, time, and the possible crotch-rotting disease that feels like you sat on a hot cactus. Not to mention having children with the wrong partner which is a complete catastrophe no matter how civil the split-up/divorced parents chose to be.

How can all of this be eliminated from the start?

“There was no way for me to have known he would have changed! He was so charming and funny at first. Then he started to turn into a real asshole!”

Before I continue any further, I will put forward my definition of love. There are many arguments for this definition but I wont go into too much detail on how this definition is valid.


Love- Love is our involuntary response to virtue, if we are virtuous.

In America, the word love has been completely stripped of any real context or meaning. I hear radio broadcasters telling complete strangers who call in to the radio show “I love you.” Completely empty of any real value or meaning. In todays culture, the word “love” is thrown around as a shaky platitude. Sorry folks, the word “love” has specific and direct purpose.

Of course you can say that you “love” chocolate cake but in this context that is a completely subjective opinion. Love between a romantic couple has to have objective and rational attributes. Having utility for one another is not love. Love is love; and only if you are both virtuous. If you claim to love someone who is an obvious abuser or sadist, I would argue that loving that person is not possible. It may feel like love, but it is more like a dysfunctional parasite that needs a host for survival.

The definition of love that I mentioned above (first brought about by Ayn Rand and slightly modified by S. Molyneux), is very powerful. If you break it down syllogistically, an evil person can neither love, or be loved. To love, you must have virtuous qualities and the person you are loving, must also have virtuous qualities. Therefore, if you and your partner are virtuous, you will both INVOLUNTARILY respond to each other with love.

This definition runs into a big problem in our culture because we are taught as children that family is innately virtuous. Philosophically- or factually, family is nothing more than a conceptual category placed on a group of individuals that were accidentally placed in geographical proximity to one another. Each person in the family is responsible for his or her own virtue or lack there of.  Because of this truth, the ideology of the voluntary family; I believe is valid. I will publish another post on the voluntary family at a later time. (If you have never heard the ideology of the voluntary family, you can find many online articles by an internet search.)

We are also taught to love ones’ country which is also impossible and irrational. A country is simply an imaginary boarder drawn on a piece of paper. Lines on a map. A country is a concept in our mind that doesn’t exist in reality. In other words, the relationship between myself and my country is a relationship based on manipulation and lies.


Nothing that is accidental or material can be virtuous. Not families’, not religion, not countries, not beauty, not height, not intelligence (IQ), not silky-soft lustrous hair, not bedroom eyes, not a ripped six-pack, not a houseboat, not a 6-bedroom home, not a Corvette, not a lawyer, not a doctor, and definitely not a blogger.

To maintain virtue, we must have honesty. Honesty is the first prerequisite for virtue. If we have honesty, integrity to our virtues is at least a possibility.

Integrity to virtue must be the fundamental principle in all of our relationships. Having integrity to our virtues creates security which is necessary but not sufficient for love. Other virtues include:

Genuine courage

What are you full of?

What are you full of?


Moral perceptiveness



Ability to reason

Personal growth

Emotional receptivity


Adherence to the non-aggression principle

Clear and open communication

Self Knowledge

There are many other virtues of course, but if some of the basics are not present in your relationships, your relationships will cause major problems and most likely end in disaster. This post is focused more towards romantic relationships. However, all voluntary, personal relationships should be put through a virtue check in the same way. Ask your closest relationship some self-knowledge questions and see how open, or closed off they become. The majority of relationships I have experienced have been a thinly sliced piece of sentimentality covering over sarcasm, angst, vane utility, exploitation, with a side of sports, weather and empty minutiae. Any time I brought up an important or meaningful topic, the uncomfortable silence and nervousness from the other person would quickly stab through me like a knife.

I believe that if there are topics of discussion that are “off-limits” in a relationship, stated explicitly or implicitly- you are headed for a failing relationship. If you are walking through a field where there are buried land-mines, eventually, you will step on one! Together, you must dig them all up. Play in an safe and open field. If you claim to “love” the person, would you allow them to run freely into a field full of exploding land-mines? What topics are “off-limits” in your relationships?

Because of our biological drive to create more humans, we often confuse our biological drives of sexual lust, for love. This is tragic. We know that (biologically) females trade their eggs for resources and males trade resources for monogamous access to the woman, allowing a continuation of the bloodline. That of course, is a very basic and shortened explanation but none-the-less, when we allow our sexual relationships to be based on our biological drives they will turn out disastrous. This is because we are basing the entire relationship on economic status, beauty, Alpha male/female characteristics, and not on virtue. I have heard people talk about the word “chemistry” or “having chemistry”. Chemistry is a bullshit word that is used in the place of lust. There is no such hocus-pokus nonsense called chemistry. There is virtue and there is vice.

When on a first or second date, asking important questions can save you from making repetitive and very common relationship mistakes. If all your previous relationships died out or ended, you know that either one of you, or both of you were not adhering to virtuous principles. If you are single now, but have dated in the past, all of your relationships were a failure. I know that is obvious but why did they fail?

This is why it is so important to find out in the beginning if your date will be at all compatible; that you can both be fueled by virtue. Ask your potential romantic partner what kind of childhood they had. If you notice they have unprocessed childhood trauma, that is a red flag. If they have been through counseling and done a bunch of self work to repair their past, then you know they have self-knowledge and are more compatible (If you are virtuous). If sexual innuendoes are constantly being thrown around or if sex is offered right up front, you know this person has a low self-esteem and thinks that sex is all they can offer the relationship. Another red flag.

I used to believe that none of these “red flags” were visible in all my past romantic relationships but now I know that is very untrue. When I look back, I can see every single one of them, screaming at me to run in the other direction. Unfortunately, I was blinded by giddy lust and counterfeited virtues. I justified all of my own vices as virtues and I avoided confrontations by not expressing my own preferences. Completely avoiding topics that I knew would be volatile. I thought thats what love was. Not understanding what love was cost me 20 years of my life, thousands of dollars, many broken hearts, health issues and drug use.

I believe by the time we are old enough for the “birds and the bee’s” talk, we already know how to place a round peg in a round hole. I wish I would have been taught about parasitical women when I was 13 or 14. I found out by allowing them to destroy years of my life.

The “sex talk” should have been something like “DO NOT mistake accidental beauty for virtue. Resist your biological drive for sex by making sure the woman you are interested in has value outside of her curves and ocean-blue eyes. Picture her as a mother having to wake up at 4 in the morning to a crying baby and a sick husband; then if you can believe she would handle that situation with love and empathy, you can go forward from there. And of course the same holds if reversing the genders.

The moral of the story is if you are not virtuous and you do not strive for honesty everyday, you will never meet a virtuous partner. You are what you attract. This is absolutely true. If any of you are saying that you cannot make absolute truth claims about anything, you just made an absolute truth claim by stating “there is no such thing as absolute truth.” Which is itself, an absolute truth claim. 🙂

This is why it is absolutely vital to hold off on dating when you first get sober. You may think you are in a good enough place to get romantically involved but you are not. They say you should wait at least a year. I would say even longer. If you have recently become sober, please get some therapy and look into your childhood objectively.

Were you spanked? yelled at? abused? did your parents divorce? family member in prison? alcoholic family member? parents using drugs? were you breast feed? were you held often? taught how to negotiate? were you put in daycare before age 5? sexual abuse? how were conflicts resolved in your home? were you always told no without an explanation? were you allowed to have preferences? were you drugged instead of reasoned with? did your parents fight often? All these things have a significant effect on brain development and are correlated to addiction. Getting answers and working through your childhood trauma; no matter how justifiable or “normal”, is absolutely necessary for future growth, sobriety and self-knowledge. You will never know who you are if you don’t understand why and were you came from.

Before you can know anything about the world, you must first know yourself. Like the great Socrates said “know thyself”

Bulletproofing My Relationships in Sobriety


My sobriety in the past– I noticed a reoccurring pattern.

1) I would get sober.

2) I would get lonely.

3) I would search fearlessly for a girlfriend.

4) I would find a girlfriend.

5) Our relationship would fall apart.

6) I would relapse.

7) Rinse and repeat.

After realizing why this continued to happen and what I was doing wrong, it all seemed so simple. There is a very important reason addicts are told to wait until they have acquired at least one year of continuous sobriety before they start any kind of intimate relationship. I think this is great advise and if you truly want long term sobriety, please follow AAs simple relationship advise. I think its a good first step, but to have a meaningful, happy, non-toxic relationship, a lot more is required.

Once I heard this in an AA meeting, I took it very serious (waiting at least 1 year). I knew I needed some time to learn more about myself and why I kept ending up freezing cold, homeless, running from the law- and self-inflicted needle scars up and down my battered arms. A real catch for any woman, right?

My life changed drastically (for the better) in 2006 when I spent 13 months behind bars for various drug related charges and theft. When I was released from jail in 2007, I decided to continue on the path to self-knowledge, sobriety, and continued celibacy.  No dating, no searching for women. Only self knowledge, spirituality, and the repairing and paying off of past restitution. I had dug a huge crater and I knew if I were to drag a new, unsuspecting woman into it, it could only end in despair. Relapse would most likely follow.

Waiting (including jail time) almost 3 years before I entered into a new relationship gave me greater hope that things would finally work out. I had built my life back to the point where my confidence and charm was second only to my sobriety and happiness. Guess what happened? The relationship fell apart and shortly after, I relapsed. Why? What did I do wrong this time? Did I not do things right this time? Nope. I sure didn’t. I didn’t put on the Kevlar. The relationship was not bulletproofed.


Until I met my current wife, I have ALWAYS done relationships the wrong way. Whether it was lack of knowledge, too young, or too dumb… No it was none of those. It was fear. Now I no longer have any excuse. If a relationship starts wrong, it will inherently end wrong. It will be too weak to continue on. If I build my home on sand, it will eventually wash away. There is love and there is lust. What is the difference? When I say I love someone, is it really love- or is it lust? I believe that “love” must have moral and virtuous objective qualities attached. That person must possess continual virtuous traits; empathetic, warm, caring, helpful, non-violent, slow to anger, etc. This is fundamental in separating this love-lust dichotomy. For Dustin to love someone, they must have virtuous qualities about them!  Being pretty or sexy or beautiful is not virtuous, it is accidental, historical genetics. Relationships are so often founded on base-of-the-brain, mammal instinct; you are delicious so lets bump our nasty-bits. Relationships will often go years without either partner knowing even the most basic of questions about the other. Important, fundamental questions about compatibility. What is your definition of love? What religion are you? Do you believe in God? Will a difference in religion be a problem? Do you want kids? How will you discipline your children? Can you even have kids? What was your childhood like? Do you have unresolved childhood issues or abuse? What are you political views? Some relationships will start and end without either party asking any of these questions. We are often too concerned with manipulation, playing games, lying, jealousy and lust. Any relationship structured on these unethical premises will cause insurmountable problems, but we see it all the time (including my own past relationships.) They are weak and can’t create anything healthy or worthwhile.

The problem was- I was too afraid to ask these kind of questions. I thought I would push the other person away from me if we talked about such big and scary topics early on in the relationship. Instead, I let two or three years of wasted time and energy dictate our relationship compatibility. It is much easier to just have lustful sex with an empty and hollow relationship and think we are in love when we really don’t know anything about each other. Just agreeing with whatever. Not having any kind of opinion or identity. Enabling each other because its the short-term path of less fear and resistance.Then when the relationship ends with hostility, bitterness and anger, I would wonder what went wrong. It is so much easier to be “liked” then to be honest. This is true even for every day friendships. Do you have friends who work harder to be liked rather than being honest? I wonder often if there is a diminishing amount of people left in the world with real honesty, real integrity. Someone who will call you out on your shit. That’s what I need in my life. If they aren’t calling me out on my shit, then they are doing behind my back, amongst other people. I may have mentioned this before but the other day, someone had posted something to online that was clearly a bad idea for that person and yet all of their so-called friends posted how great of an idea it was. Not one person mentioned how it could cause serious long term concerns or issues. Yes you should run out in front of a moving train! In today’s world, honesty is very unpopular. I want to continue striving for “unpopular.”

I have made many mistakes in my life. I do accept that I still screw up often, I accept that I still make mistakes, of course- but I continue to work at not repeating these mistakes.I want to become a better person. If I can’t accept that I am doing something wrong, I will never try to change it. Being aware of what I was doing wrong in the past has now allowed my current relationship with my wife to continue to grow stronger. We do not argue, we do not raise our voices at each other, we do not call each other names and we both try to work with moral and ethical principles. When we disagree with each other, we negotiate some form of win-win situation that makes us both happy. There is no concerns or issues over jealousy and that is a first for me. I never thought it could work, but I promise you, it does. Like S. Molyneux says “The only thing that will separate my wife and I will be a coffin lid.”

Relationships that are founded on moral ethics will be bulletproof!