Love is the attachment that results from deeply appreciating another's goodness.
The word "goodness" may surprise you. After all, most love stories don't feature a couple enraptured with each other's ethics. ("I'm captivated by your values!" he told her passionately. "And I've never met a man with such morals!" she cooed.) But in her study of real-life successful marriages ("The Good Marriage: How and Why Love Lasts"), 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. What we value most in ourselves, we value most in others. God created us to see ourselves as good (hence our need to either rationalize or regret our wrongdoings). So, too, we seek goodness in others. 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.
LOVE IS A CHOICE
If love comes from appreciating goodness, it needn't just happen -- you can make it happen. Love is active. You can create it. Just focus on the good in another person (and everyone has some). If you can do this easily, you'll love easily.
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. This man naturally saw the good in others, and our being there said enough about us that he could love us. Judaism actually idealizes this universal, unconditional love.
Obviously, there's a huge distance from here to the far more profound, personal love developed over the years, especially in marriage. But seeing goodness is the beginning.
Susan learned about this foundation of love after becoming engaged to David. When she called her parents to tell them the good news, they were elated. At the end of the conversation, her mother said, "Darling, I want you to know we love you, and we love David."
Susan was a bit dubious. "Mom," she said hesitantly, "I really appreciate your feelings, but, in all honesty, how can you say you love someone you've never met?"
"We're choosing to love him," her mother explained, "because love is a choice."