Our ten-year study examined the association between compassionate love (CL)—other-centered love, as well as compassionate self-love, and spiritual coping (SC)— the use of spirituality (connection to a Higher Presence or God) as a means to cope with trauma, and gender differences in 177 people living with HIV (PLWH). In a secondary data analysis of six-monthly interviews/essays, we coded five criteria of CL and rated the benefit of CL giving, receiving and self for the recipient. Synergistically, we rated longitudinal SC based on coding of 18 coping strategies. Overall, mean CL towards self was very high, followed by CL receiving and giving, while mean SC was moderately high. Women, in comparison to men, perceived higher benefit from SC and giving CL to others. Overall, CL towards self had the strongest association with SC, more pronounced in women than in men. Beyond gender, only CL for the self was a significant predictor of SC. Although there was a moderate association between SC and the perceived benefit from giving CL, after controlling for gender, this association was present in men only. Conversely, receiving CL from others yields a stronger association with SC in women than in men. Women perceived to benefit significantly more from SC and giving CL to others compared to men, whereas no gender differences were found on perceiving benefit from receiving CL from others or oneself. In conclusion, although women perceive more benefit from giving CL to others than men, this does not explain the higher benefit from SC among women. Ultimately, both men and women perceive to benefit more from SC the more they exhibit CL towards self and thus spiritual counseling should keep the importance of the balance between CL towards self and others in mind.
- Compassionate love
- Gender differences