true love

Do You Love Your Stuff?

Have you ever started a sentence with the words, “I love …” and then completed it with a description of something instead of someone?  For example, do you love your car?  A favorite pair of shoes?  Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey ice cream?

We’ve probably all told someone that we “love” something or other.

However, researchers at Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business have taken the whole notion of loving stuff even further.  They’ve found that some people experience what they call “material-possession love.”  They truly LOVE their stuff.

The researchers didn’t say how many people fall into that category, but those that do spend far more time with and much more money on the stuff they love than those who maintain more of a friendship-level relationship with their stuff.

For example, car owners who exhibited “enduring romantic love for their vehicles” (I’m not making that up) were found to spend three times more money washing and waxing their vehicles than other people.

Quick Inventory Reveals Little Love of Stuff

As I thought about the stuff we own, I had a hard time coming up with anything I truly love.  Either we don’t own very much nice stuff, or I’m just not that into stuff. I like our van.  It’s really practical for our family of five, and there haven’t been any major mechanical surprises.  But I certainly don’t love it.

I confess that I have felt strongly attached to my Apple laptop computer. There’s something about the design that just makes it a pleasure to own and use.  However, a lot of the sheen wore off recently when I had to take it to the Apple store three times with frustrating e-mail problems.

While I was impressed with Apple’s amazing customer service, the whole experience left me feeling much less emotionally connected to my computer.

I guess it was conditional love.

The things I value the most all have personal stories attached to them: artwork my late father created that hangs on our walls; pictures from Jude’s and my wedding, honeymoon, and other trips; pictures of our kids; artwork we bought that brings back memories of the where we bought it.

It would bother me a lot if any of that stuff got damaged or was stolen.  Still, I have a tough time saying that I love that stuff, at least not in the way the ASU researchers described.

How to Know If You Love Your Stuff Too Much

I heard someone say recently that before he buys anything he asks himself whether he’d be comfortable loaning it to someone.  If there’s any hint of a hesitation at the thought of letting someone borrow it, he doesn’t buy it.  I think that’s a good test to see if our feelings for our stuff might be going too far.

What do you think?  Do you own anything that you’d be hesitant to loan to someone?  If so, does that mean you like it a little too much?

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