Saturday, February 4, 2012
A different kind of love.
There's so many things that get associated with "love" that aren't part of our experience of loving each other.
Exclusivity. Both of us are sleeping with other people right now, he's dating other people, and there's not a damn thing wrong with that. I've started to love the feeling of "coming home" to Rowdy after fooling around with someone else; it's a wonderful warm thing to be able to say "I like going off and having adventures, but your dick is where I hang my hat."
So it's weird to me to see "I'm all yours" and "you're my one, my only" used as expressions of just how sincere and true a love is. They can certainly be definitions of a particular couple's love, but that doesn't make it lovier. Exclusive love isn't deeper or more serious (or worse!) than open love, it's just different.
Permanence. Stuff ends. And when stuff is a relationship, it really only ends in two ways--you break up or somebody dies. Rowdy and I are in our twenties, we're not getting married, and we both have a bit of the "maybe I'll move to Alaska next" wanderlust in us. We'd like to be long-term but realistically we're not forever.
And I'm okay with this. I don't love to think about it, but I'm at peace with it. Which is why stuff like "I'm yours forever" grates on me as a romantic sentiment. No. I'm not yours forever. I'm with you now. Now matters too. Let's treasure today, and accept tomorrow.
Ownership. I realize that "I'm yours" doesn't literally mean "I am your possession," but a lot of romance language does come weirdly close to that. It weirds me out. I'm starting to think this entire post is just me being painfully literal, but it's hard to think clearly if you don't think literally sometimes, and I don't like hearing that lovers "belong" to each other. Rowdy's not mine, nor am I his--he has no authority over me and no rights to me. We're just two people who enjoy being together.
I know there's not much room for nuance on a Conversation Heart, but I don't want to tell my lover "be mine." I only want to tell him "be with me."
Obsession. Rowdy isn't my life. I mean, how goddamn boring would that be? Rowdy is just one wonderful part of my life. Of course I could live without him; of course life would go on; of course we're not everything to each other. And to me, that's not less meaningful but more. One of the most romantic sentences I know is "I don't need you; I want you."
So without these things--without every part of "be my only one forever," what's left? Funny thing is, there's a shitload of things left.
There's simple, raw affection. Rowdy makes me happy and he makes me want to make him happy and whenever we're together we make a little Happiness Feedback Loop. This is the main thing and it's why I say "love" at all. Being with Rowdy just plain feels good.
There's trust. Trust that means we show each other all our soft vulnerable parts--the bad stuff in our pasts, the screwed-up stuff in our heads, the things that make us cry and the things that turn us on--and we know we're safe when we do. We know it's not going to be used against us or taken lightly.
There's loyalty. When I was sick Rowdy came and comforted me. When Rowdy moved I came and hauled boxes. We've cried on each other's shoulders and we've gotten each other's backs.
And yeah, there's sexual chemistry. I don't think that defines our love but it sure makes it a whole lot more fun.
How is this different from being really good friends who are physically intimate? Honestly, it isn't. Which brings me to the last thing our love isn't:
Magic. There's nothing special about being in love. It's only a matter of gradation away from being very close friends. The feelings I have for Rowdy are different only in degree, not character, from the feelings I have for other people with whom I share affection, trust, and loyalty. Being with my friends just plain feels good, too.
Love is wonderful, but love is not ineffable. Love is powerful, but love is not mysterious. Love is a rock in storms and an open meadow on sunny days, but love is not a bolt from the blue. Love is just really really really really liking someone. And that's enough.
Maybe our problem isn't that we think love is too magical. Maybe our problem is that we don't realize how magical every human connection is.
...Wow, that was pretty Care Bears even for me. But fuck it, I'll be Care Bears. Caring about someone is fucking awesome.