With the intention of making everyone in class participate and express, our French professor has a list of interesting questions. You get to choose the question by giving a number in a range and answer the question that corresponds to the number of your choice.Some are funny, some are scandalous and some really philosophic.It is always interesting to see how some turn the most serious question into something frivolous while others pontificate and philosophise over the simplest question. I got the question:

Would you rather be loved or admired and why?

In the class i got away with a simpler answer to this in order to avoid conjugating too many verbs and searching for the vocabulary. But the question kept coming back to me.

I think good people are loved and successful people are admired. Of course that doesn't mean that you can only be good or successful but either one of them is a sufficient condition to be loved or admired.I cannot straight away think of many people who are loved and admired. In recent times Mother Teresa was an example. Even in the case of Gandhiji, I think the British admired but hated him and the Indians loved and admired him.

We admire people when we feel that they have scaled heights that we ourselves may not yet have or may not be capable of. Admiration comes from a wish to be or to do things like someone else - obviously it follows that these feats are difficult to achieve and require tremendous talent/ hardwork/ perseverence/ bravery etc.Putting someone on a pedestal involves a bit of distancing,they no longer "belong" with you but are "there" a little (or lot) higher up.

We love people when we are easy and comfortable with them, when they are kind and nice and generous, funny and forgiving.We love people when they make us feel we are ok people, when they accept us warts and all. And when we love a person we accept them with all their imperfections and failures.

Being worthy of admiration imposes a great burden on a person; you are not allowed to fail or even slip up. But being loved imposes no such burdens - you can be a bumbling bufoon and yet be loved just for being so.

So now you have one guess on what my choice would have been! And what about you?
Would you rather be loved or admired and why?
25 Responses
  1. rads Says:

    that was an interesting post.

    I'd like to be loved by a few, liked by all, and admired by some.
    You are right on about what classifies as what, and the burden is quite heavy in the latter.

    Somehow I feel these 2 qualities are not comparable. I mean, it's like apples and oranges no?

  2. Hip Grandma Says:

    That was a hard option.I'd like to be loved or at least liked.Admiration to my mind creates a distance.Like you're in awe of the person.very often the object of one's admiration is not what one perceives him/her to be and that comes as a rude I feel it is safest to be liked.

  3. That was a really interesting post. Sometimes, during our mundane activities, we encounter such one liners - questions or phrases that make us ponder. This is definitely one of them.
    You are absolutely right when you say - admiration creates a burden. But, don't we also admire folks who have made mistakes, like any other human, yet have come to what they are today. Guess not - to a 100%. Everybody loves to admire something that is flawless. You admire a movie star - who has done all "Hero" roles - the moment you hear that he has a bad personal life, or stoopes low to perform an "anti-hero" role, your admiration wavers.

    I would love to be liked, for asking somebody to love you also, i feel, takes quite an amount of effort. Love cannot be one sided. Nobody can love me absolutely without me also responding the same affection, atleast to a small degree.
    I would love to be loved back in return, for otherwise I would be hurt :(.
    Admiration - well! I am far away from that !!!

  4. passerby55 Says:

    hmmmm .... a quest for admire or love.

    For me its admiration first and then love. Admiration is necessary because you may not always get love ... At least be admired for the little you did makes one feel positive.

    I feel love is one step ahead of admiration.To be admired and then the same growing into love .... is just a perfect connection for me.

    USha, you made me think from the heart today ...

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Assuming that our words & actions are in a way tailored to reinforce our own idea of ourselves, if it turns out that we're admired by others & not so much loved, then thats what we'd rather be.

    I think that such a generalization may exclude parents & the like, who are not exactly neutral & do not really start at the crossroads.

    One of the nicest quotes on the topic (seen on a Star Sports commercial) is: A hero is someone whom you can admire without apology.

    I think, then, that's putting it in a nutshell.


  6. Balaji Says:

    What is needed a balance between the two as Rads has mentioned. You should be loved by your familiy and admired by the world.

  7. Inder Says:

    to be loved or admired?
    i would rather love to be loved than admired. i wouldn't give a damn if others admire me or not. but, i would be mighty happy if others like me.
    i may or may not approve to or love something, but still i may admire them. i may admire tyson for his boxing prowess, michael jackson for his singing and dancing abilities, osama for his guts, etc. but i would never like them. i would never want to be like them.
    love results in a positive admiration.
    let us take two fictinal characters - lord rama of ramayan and atticus finch of 'To kill a mockingbird'. i admire them both. both are wonderfully depicted characters. but, my feeling towards rama stops at admiration. his is a great but flawed character. he was stupid to take his wife and brother with him to forest. he was a coward to ambush at vaali. he was absurd to put his wife to adversities. rama is a great but outdated character. but, atticus finch is a flawless character. i would rather be like atticus than rama.

  8. vibhor Says:

    thats a bit difficult question...
    but then i wnt to be loved by my wife and admired by my chilren more..bcoz admiration comes with respect and true respect comes from untill n unless u cant love someone you cannot admire him..

  9. Anonymous Says:

    We admire people because of the qualities they possess. It could be qualities that we ourselves want to possess and think we don't have.
    Sometimes, we admire people for the way they have acted under certain circumstances or for their achievements.
    If you carefully look at the situation, then it is the quality, the behaviour, the action....etc that we admire, not the person as such.
    But,When it comes to love, it is more of a bond, something more mutual.It is a relationship.
    Love can hurt,love can be lost and regained, love can be on rare occassions one sided.
    Love actually is a very strange emotion, which I think is on a different plane altogether from admiration.
    As for myself, I would love(!) to be admired by my students, my colleagues and my acquaintences.I would certainly want to be accepted and loved by my family and friends the way I am unconditionally!

  10. Usha Says:

    Rads:mmmm...I do not know if the 2 qualities are incomparable - I'd imagine that to be a person worthy of love as well as admiration requires one to be an exceptional achiever and a great human being. It is tough to LOVE someone whom you do not know personally but it is possible to admire them. For example I can only admire Sudha Murthy, Arundati Roy or Barkha dutt but not love them because I don't really Know them. This is perhaps why they seem incomparable

    Hipgrandma:Yes, it is painful to see feet of clay in one's heroes..You are just like me. yes I choose being liked / loved as it is a safe option and comes with no expectations of performance.

    Vidhya:I was also looking at it more from me being the object of admiration or love - I could not handle the burden of the former while the latter just allows me to be what I am.

    Passerby: Admiration growing into love - a very desirable situation but it is possible to have just one withourt the other, right?
    Think from the heart - reminds me of something Naseeruddin shah says in the film "Iqbal"

    S!:A hero is someone you can admire without an apology - absolutely!
    Perhaps because admiration needs a basis for justification while love doesn't?

    Balaji: Ideally!

    Inder: Me too. Assuming Rama was as much a fictional character as Atticus Finch, i guess they both represent an ideal character for their times. And if Rama was based on a real king, you have to read his behaviour keeping in mind the social practises and norms of his time.
    That apart, we are coming back to the same point that tyou can be imperfect and be loved but admiration expects perfection.

    Vibhor: aha, that is a reversal of what passerby says. I think I can admire someone without necessarily loving them. In fact I can admire someone professionally and dislike them as a person.

    Shalini:You have just beautifully expressed what I meant to say - may be this should have been the blogpost! Thanks!!

  11. MJ Says:

    wht i think is-love gives satisfaction n makes one feel bonded and admiration on the other hand gives new confidence n helps us setting up new goals to achieve.

    The 2 qualities u mentioned are placed at opposite poles.Admiration is not at all realted to us personally where as love is personal.U can admire one for something but dislike the same person for something else.Admiration is to look only at some one's best/good.But love is to accept the person the way he/she is....:)

  12. Mahadevan Says:

    You have made a very clear distinction.

    Love is an yearning from the heart and admiration - of the head.

    We admaire an Arjun, an Amitabh or a Don Bradman. When we admire, we expect a norm, a standard. How many of us can accept the defeat of an Arjun, duck from Don Bradman or dissappointing performance from an Amitabh?

    We love a cute little baby like that Krishna in your last post or our teenage crush. In love there is no standard. We accept the other person for what he or she is. Love, like death, is a great leveller.

    Each one of us wants to be loved by someone and have also a lurking desire to be admired by those around us.

  13. Visithra Says:

    I would love to be loved just loved - coz with admiration comes the ugly side of life jealousy - its not worth it - lovely post as always

  14. Anonymous Says:

    Your comments on Lord Rama are very well conceived. Human understanding is anyway constrained by bounded rationality but people compound matters by blurting out inane expletives on the Lord without going with the flow of the epic--a tendency that you have checked subtly and very effectively in your comments. Verily, the Lord is the Purushottama for all reasons & seasons and He is kindly disposed towards even his horrrendously ill-informed critics.

  15. GuNs Says:

    Often I've gone for doing things that will make people admire me. A lot of times, that involves taking tough stands. THAT makes a lot of people hate you for it. Being loved often involves making moral compromises which I've always hated to do.

    Now though, I understand the need for striking a balance. The world is a bad place these days. We need to change it and we need people who are willing to take tough decisions without having the fear of being hated.

    Its all a matter of balance. Sometimes you have to be tough for the good of a lot of people. Then you cannot concentrate on being "nice". A person who can be both at appropriate times is closest to being perfect. My call...


  16. hari Says:

    "I think good people are loved and successful people are admired."

    In that case, I would always prefer to be loved as that would be longlasting. Success is an acquired trait, it might slip away anytime and alongwith it the admiration. But goodness is something inborn within us, that will last through our life.

  17. I think i would prefer to be admired.. because i consider admiration is a second level degree to loved.

    when you do admire a person.. only when u like a person or love a person - right.

  18. Anonymous Says:

    geez, did i miss this class? thank god, because i would have a hard time deciding and then explaining it. in french! in english is hard enough, thank you.

    but seriously, i want both - to be loved and admired (by the same people or different ones, no matter!). because i am essentially a greedy person who wants more of everything :)

  19. Usha Says:

    m j: I think appreciation may give us confidence and not necessarily admiration - I think it is an extraordinary burden to be the object of admiration - but then of course that is only my personal view.

    Mahadevan: hm...that is an interesting point about the "lurking desire" - may be my shying away from admiration is a classic case of sour grapism!

    Visi:Me too!

    Anon: Thanks for understanding my comment in the spirit in which it was intended.

    Guns: I admit I overlooked the motivations that one might have to "make" people want to admire you or love you. Very valid points.
    I only focused on your being the person you are and living your life the way you want and people reacting to the results with admiration or love. Now I have to think more on what you have said.

    Hari:oh yes, the burden of being successful!

    Gomathi: Not sure of that. Like I said I admire NRN - i don't love him or even claim to like him as I don't know him.

    Anita: yes, you obviously did. wait till I make mme do this when you are there next time...hehehhe. They re fun arent they though?
    And as for you wanting to be Loved and Admired - you are madamoiselle, with all your talents and a golden heart. YOU know that, dont you?

  20. Mahadevan Says:

    Admiration is an approval, a sort of 'go ahead' green signal and therefore one looks for it. Your shying away from admiration could be because of two reasons - 1) modesty 2) accomplishment - For an accomplished person, admiration is too small a compensation.

  21. Preethi Says:

    Guess u said u wanted to be admired by others and loved by your friends???
    atleast I want this.. Hehe.. :)

  22. Usha Says:

    Mahadevan: Hehehehe, I do not deserve it but will accept it anyway, Thanks.

    SG: No such thing! I run faaaaaar from admiration

  23. Anonymous Says:

    A different perspective from me, warning, convoluted logic ahead.

    Assumption 1:
    - Love is a two-way street. Feelings like infatuation, crush and other 'forms' of love are not really love. Mutual feelings are a requirment.
    - Admiration is a one-way street. Mutual admiration makes it two-way, but there is no underlying requirement for admiration to be reciprocal.

    Assumption 2:
    - Love does not require action, meaning it can be based on looks, voice etc, on a snapshot of a person. A person just by being can be loved, although you would really want the feeling to be based on the whole package. This non-actionable feature is what drives "love at first sight" encounters. Our brains are wired to look for suitable mates and pick up non-verbal clues without consciously thinking about it. Although these non-verbal clues are actions like smiling, these can be expressed without the person actually thinking about them. So I'm categorizing them as non-actions.
    - Admiration is based on the actions of a person, not their looks or state of being. We admire somebody for their action, maybe only under particular cicumstances and not always. But without conscious action there is no admiration.

    Given assumptions 1 and 2, I prefer admiration anyday. The object of somebody's love can feel pressured to reciprocate, when the feeling is expressed. But as the object of admiration, you can go about your business without the knowledge of it unless it is expressed explicitly. Even then, there is no expectation of reciprocation.

  24. No second thoughts on this- I 'd rather be loved than admired. Anyday!

    Am not Ms. Perfect, and am quite scared of some of the expectations people have of me.
    You have to constantly live up to expectations to retain the admiration, but you can be just you and be loved...

    I guessed you would've chosen love too, and was proved correct!

  25. Usha Says:

    Vidya: can you believe I never got this comment until today which is april 26/2007. wonder why. Interesting POV. But still I feel being admired isa great pressure on me - I guess it is a personality thing. I dont really feel the need to reciprocate love with the same intensity but cant handle the stress of admiration.

    JLT:Precisely my take on the issue!