I wrote this about the nature of love, in May 2004! Hope you’re sitting comfortably!
So… Love? Love! Love. Even just the change of the punctuation allows the word to take on different personas. In the hands of individuals, how much more so will its interpretation change? All the different diversities of humanity let loose on a four letter word which, when it comes down to it, no two people will have the same definition for.
Where do we start? In essence just the fact that we have established that although it has initial common ground, (i.e. the SPELLING!!!), when we try to define it with stable parameters, we start to have an irrevocable break down. It is not stable. In mathematical terms it would be somewhat like the nonlinear equation used to develop certain chaotic shapes, which, although they can be seen to emulate each other, never actually follow the same pathway twice. So, although the basis is similar, no two are the same, and therefore as it is ongoing, it is impossible to predict the next course, although it IS possible to use intuition to estimate it, which as the mathematicians amongst you know, is the signature of a nonlinear equation, and the romantics will see is also the signature of love.
We need to examine what it is that means we label something Love. For the purpose of this work we will assume talk of love is a set of feelings towards someone. These are strong positive feelings, such as affection, warmth, liking, companionship, and often sexually linked. People state that it’s indescribable, which either means they lack the vocabulary needed, or perhaps just because it’s a new thing to them to experience they are perhaps scared to attribute words to this thing. Logistically though, for something which does not have parameters, all encompassing descriptions are going to be impossible!
Society dictates that, because love follows the love = marriage= monogamy mandate, it is impossible to love 2 people the same, at the same time. When you point out however that the above definition, states the love for one person HAS to be different to the love for another, due to its nonlinear nature, and therefore your are NOT feeling the same about both people, it demonstrates that it IS possible to love more than one person, and in-fact this could extend on into infinity! Its not that long ago that it was perfectly acceptable to be married to more than one person, and in many cultures this still exists!
As a curiosity to the Love only one rule, this is only applied when the person doing the loving is doing so in a sexual nature. It is perfectly acceptable for families to love each other, and to suggest you can only love one of your brothers would be ludicrous indeed. But, it’s still love. Interestingly again, society dictates that, whether we like or dislike family members we must love them irrespectively! It seems from an early age we are vulnerable and susceptible to the dictation of who we can love, and why. So, when you love someone, you are supposed to like them and value them above anyone else you know (unless this equates to family members, who are of course, exempt as they are all equal!). If they were your friend though, you’d just call them your best friend, and tell them you love them like that, and that’s acceptable. You can love all your friends, its again only when it becomes sexual that this giving of love becomes frowned upon.
Why is this version of love and sex linked in such a way? Again its society which dictates this, mostly through the medium of religion. The church dictates that people should be chaste before marriage, and as marriage is Till death us do part, and divorce is frowned on, this means life is a One sexual partner only affair. Although many of us are not practising Christians we still have ingrained in our society these constraints, which are instilled in us from birth. Fortunately as we become more liberated in our attitudes we are breaking down the stigmas. Marriage is now an outdated concept with more than 1 in 3 ending in divorce, but living together has become the norm, as we no longer have to justify it to the church. Sex is no longer just for procreation, but is a form of recreation too, and as we recognise this, so its ties with love become loosened. The morals of society are removed and instead the values of the individual orchestrate what is and isn’t the done thing. Rather than us becoming detached, we are in fact, detaching a set of ideals, removing something that generations before us hammered into place. Never has the word “liberated” been so literally correct.
Love then, seems to be, for all its randomness, relatively easy to break down. Rather than try to work out where it’s going, which we’ve established is unknowable, we can work in reverse, to find a starting point, and the parts to the resulting equation. Some people say when they love someone, they “need” them. This is simply untrue. It is possible to become emotionally dependant on someone, rather like an addiction, (hence the expression Love sick), and like any addiction, if you remove access to the cause (e.g. you break up with your partner) you will have withdrawal symptoms. You don’t need the person though, you want them, albeit, badly.
This is where things start to come together. Having established that you want a person, rather than need, it becomes obvious that you have chosen to want to be with this person, for whatever combination of reasons. Not acknowledging this means people can use expressions like “I couldn’t help myself” when things go wrong. This means they don’t have to accept responsibility for their actions, for example in an affair, when both parties are asked why they did it. To want things is only human, but in life we chose which of the things we want to actually have! It is a choice, cognitive, and because of this it means we chose who we love. To understand this gives us control over our lives in the emotional department, because, as hate is just an inverse of love it therefore abides by the same rules. With regards the addiction syndrome, as this is psychosomatic it can be dealt with the same way as gambling addictions, with will power! Once a person realises they are responsible for their feelings, and only they themselves are capable of changing them, it gives them the sense of control that allows them to take charge of their life.
So to conclude, we have found that, once started, there is no way of knowing where love will take us, but it is us initially who choose to embark on this course of action, and it is us who choose when we will leave. To acknowledge control, rather than claim to be helplessly in love, must surely elevate the status of love, in that we choose to love a person, rather than have it decided for us! To know we are consciously chosen, knowing that on taking this course the future is uncertain, only serves to make the word more powerful, more meaningful, and the person speaking it, more sincere and special.