Decolonizing Love: Part III
My last day in the beautiful city of Edinburgh, I spent a quiet afternoon at a friend’s flat. We had a very lively and warm conversation about loving our friends. We want to love our friends platonically. We want to love our friends romantically. We want to love our friends in every way our friends should be loved. We know our friends well, and know the amazing beings that they are. So why not love them? It makes most sense to love our friends comfortably and as freely as we please.
I always thought that it was selfish of me to not want my partner to desire someone else. My mentality was, Shouldn’t I be enough? Why would my partner want someone else? Also, cheating. Cheating is bad. Cheating is terrible. No one wants to be cheated on, and if I were ever cheated on, it must have been because I was not keeping my partner happy. My parents have a beautiful monogamous marriage. They never cheated on each other and they are adorably in love, with over 30 years of being together. Society tells us that we have one true love. One true soulmate. Tween novels written for my adolescent heart taught me that someday I’d fall in love with one person.
I think that is ridiculous.
When I began to experience heartbreak after heartbreak, I realized a few things: One, it is difficult to love myself, but it is possible. The second, that I am capable of loving people many times, and just as genuine each time. I can love more than one person. I have loved more than one person. The love is no less strong than a previous love. So it made me less afraid of falling in love, and of heart break because I knew that I could love again, many times.
I remember reading a book called The Four Agreements. As I read it, I learned about how beautiful people can be. What makes me different than anyone else around me? If I am lovable, I’m sure everyone else is also just as lovable, right? I recall one instant when I was living in a student house. I’d just moved in and as I was in the kitchen, I observed one of the housemates. He was shy and always going out to run errands by himself. Yet he always showed up at social events, making a strong effort to make himself present. I felt a little bad for him at first, but as I observed him that morning in the kitchen, I realized this person was capable of being loved, not just by his mother. Why couldn’t I love him? If I had the time, I was so convinced that I could. Not in a romantic way (though, why not?), but rather in an unpredictable way that the love itself would eventually determine the way it’d manifest. But, I don’t have time to dedicate to this person. Or to many people around me.
Going back to my parent’s beautiful relationship: though it is the cutest sight ever, I know that it based on a Catholic marriage idea that also encompasses the value of white weddings and virginity until marriage. I think all of that is nonsense because it is not for everyone. It definitely works for people like my parents, but it can also make people feel less valuable if they have sexual desires, even though they’re being totally human in having these desires (but I won’t go into a sex ed rant). So what do I do with this white-wedding model of love? How do mothers love their children so much, but there are still babies being found in dumpsters? What about the earth? What about Mother Nature herself? Does she not do everything she can to make sure her inhabitants have water to drink, food to eat, and warmth with which to survive? Yes... and it is all provided blindly.
I won’t go into a “save the earth” lecture, but here is where I’ve decided is a foundation that works well for me. Like the earth, I want to love myself blindly. Like the earth, I want to see the beauty in everyone around me. No one reasonably has time to get to know everyone they meet, but they can invest in the people around them, and invest honest appreciation and love for them. Does one person have to be more important than another? I don’t think so. What if we can love all the people around us without fear of rejection? If we don’t expect to only love that one person, rejection suddenly doesn’t seem that scary (though it still hurts when it comes from someone we love, in the way that it hurts when our mothers say “no” to us). What if we can love everyone in different ways but on the same level? What is love and what is romantic love? I’m still figuring this out, but I think romantic love can also be platonic. In assuming that romantic love must be with someone with whom we date or have sex with, we exclude romantic friendships or asexual couples.
"So, Izzy, are you poly?" I prefer non-monogamous. I am still developing my preference of having no “primary” partner. It may make someone else feel less important, when they’re just as important as a “primary” partner. But this is not to say that those who use this model have it wrong. Absolutely not. Rather, I think that in unboxing and decolonizing the way we approach love, we need to find something that works for us. For my parents, the white-wedding/monogamy works for them. For me, I like same-level loving and romantic friendships. For others, primary partners are a good model. It depends on the person.
What works for you? What doesn’t work for you? Maybe you’re in a relationship with one person and you love them because they offer a strong and reliable sense of trust, but you also would like to see them approach their life’s work with more passion. Would you prefer to find a new partner that encompasses both traits? Would you want to change your partner so they can adopt the missing trait? Or would you consider loving someone side by side that already has that missing trait? Everyone will approach the situation differently. So, let’s celebrate the way we love. Let’s celebrate loving those around us who love us with as much effort and energy as we radiate.
*Photo Courtesy: Refinery29