I’ve been having a lot of conversations about love recently, so today I would like to talk about it a little. Love is one of those things that I’ve never understood entirely. Given that I have some attachment issues, it’s unsurprising. That said, I like to think that my approach to love – to understanding it, to feeling it, and to expressing it – is reasonable.
Love is a feeling. It’s something we know in the pit of our stomachs, or the centre of our chest. It’s butterflies, and lightheartedness, and the feeling of freedom. It’s smiling just because you know the thing you love exists.
Love also hurts. Love is heartbreak, and making tough choices. Love is angst and pain and complete and utter idiocy. Love is doing things you never thought you could or would do just for the sake of another person. Love is learning how to suffer sometimes at another person’s happiness.
When I love, I love all-in. I do not stop loving, I do not forget that I once loved. I love my friends, my family, and complete strangers just for being them. I feel pain when others feel pain, and joy when others are joyful.
The part that confuses me about love is how it seems oftentimes that we can’t be honest about love, because love is scary. I’ve scared boys off by telling them I love them, and gotten weird looks for explaining how much I still love people I haven’t seen in years. Are we supposed to lie and wait until the other person drops “the L bomb”? Are we supposed to pretend that we don’t have feelings for someone because they might be… what, offended? Sure, it might be a little odd if a stranger stands in front of you and declares their unending love, but what about love – assuming it isn’t scary, obsessive love – is wrong?
I wonder if love is scary because we feel an obligation to the people who love us. We feel that, somehow, we owe them something. So we avoid loving or talking about love just in case that person calls in their favour. Love makes us vulnerable, therefore we must hide it and reserve it only for those who are safe. Those who we know love us equally, if not more, than we love them. A dog’s love, for example, is pure, and it is one of the most valued loves. Man’s best friend loves him not for the things man buys him, but purely for the man’s existence, and so his love is utterly without strings. A lover, however – a lover can hurt us, can betray us, can leave us. A lover can call in favours, can put caveats on their love. So we wait to love until we know – or think we know – that love is unconditional.
In the film adaptation of V for Vendetta, Eve receives a letter from Valerie. The letter ends with the following statement:
But what I hope most of all is that you understand what I mean when I tell you that even though I do not know you, and even though I may not meet you, laugh with you, cry with you, or kiss you: I love you.
With all my heart.
I love you.
This is precisely what I mean when I say I’ve never understood love as it has been taught to be in our modern world, because this – this is how I perceive love. Love is beautiful, not shameful. It is not a weakness to love, and it is not shameful to feel the sting of love when it runs sour.
If we were less afraid of love, maybe we would be less afraid of each other.