I’ve been thinking a lot about love lately.
Or maybe I always think a lot about love. What can I say, I am a sucker for a good love story.
My bio family isn’t big on the word “love”. We all know it, but don’t often say it. I felt love growing up, but was definitely not comfortable throwing the word around.
Romantically, I have only ever told one person I loved them out loud.
I tell my friends I love them all the time. In fact, I am pretty sure one of my friends is to credit for how freely I use the word now. She loves love.
Love is the reason people get out of bed. Love creates connection. Love is the basis of relationship, and community, and family. Love gives meaning. Love gives life.
However, the way we talk about love is often problematic.
Particularly the idea of “falling” in love.
Falling indicates that we are out of control. It alludes to the fact that we might get hurt, that it might be scary. It is unpredictable; it is spontaneous. It ends in a crash. This concept justifies falling for people who cause us harm – as the harm is right there in the language. It makes it acceptable to love people who may not have our best intentions at heart, because we “just felt it.” We couldn’t control it. We fell.
This does not feel true to me at all. Love feels stable, consistent, comfortable. Love feels like the catch after the fall.
Love is something you consciously choose – not something that just happens to you. Sure, your feelings may sometimes seem to sneak up on you. They may be overwhelming, and uncomfortable. But you build the relationship, and then the feelings build. You control the connection you create. You are, in fact, behind the wheel of your feelings, regardless of their intensity.
And it can be incredibly empowering to realize that.
I have definitely loved more people than I have told out loud. When I think about the ones that I say that I “fell in crazy love with” vs. the ones that I truly cared for, and in turn, loved authentically and genuinely, they feel radically different.
The “falling” ones fucked with my head, felt out of control, and sent me into panics. These were not people who had my best intentions at heart, they were often the ones who forgot about me when I was not in their bed. When I think about them now, I feel anger, annoyance, or discomfort. Whereas the ones who I felt real heart feels for, I look back on with fondness. I felt that they supported me, wholeheartedly, no matter the ending. When I think about them now, I still feel warmth, and I hope that they are living their best lives.
That is the difference. When you truly love someone, you realize that you care about them, and their life, regardless of your involvement in it. This is a hard concept to understand, because of the way we are taught to think about romantic relationships. We often learn that love means that we spend all of our time, energy, and affection on our ‘one and only’. But when we equate love with constant energy, and affection, and time, we get into traps of codependency, ownership, jealousy, and even borderline emotional abuse.
Love should free us, not entrap us.
Love is not an excuse for bad behaviour. Love is not an excuse for abuse. Love is not an excuse for running away, or disrespect, or disconnection. Real love and hurt cannot exist in the same relationship, at the same time.
One of the reasons that I feel pulled to relationship anarchy is that I believe that when we take away the pressure of the ‘one and only’, we open ourselves up to love without expectation. When we love unselfishly, this love can be enlightening, uplifting, and empowering. When we are able to take ourselves out of the equation of love = you + me forever, we allow ourselves to create beautiful connections that build people up, and encourage them to be their best selves. And by default, we then grow into our best selves. Without expectations or conditions from others.
Of course I am idealizing and oversimplifying this. But, consider for a moment what your relationships would look like if you saw love as entirely unselfish, with no conditions, or expectations – simply allowing the people you love to live their best lives. Consider if the people who love you, only wanted that for you.
What would it look like? Feel like? How would it change you, and your interactions? How would it alter your approach to relationships?
What does love look like to you? How do you feel it? Where do you feel it? How do you know it is authentic? How do you share it?
I want to hear your love stories – all of them. As I said, I’m a sucker for a good love story. So reach out, share, and spread all that glorious love with boundless energy.
Yours in ooey, gooey love feels,
xo – C