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What’s love?

August 21, 2012

Sounds like it’s going to be a deep question. I’ll try to wrap it up in a way that wouldn’t leave Postman Pat depressed.

I’m the type who tuts and snickers in the face of love. It’s not that I don’t believe in love, exactly, it’s just that people do bandy about such balls when talking about it. I’ve met too many who are fond of all that: “You can’t love someone until you love yourself” stuff.

Why? The two things aren’t related; feelings of love are ones projected from you to a receiving object. Nothing you feel about yourself is projected from yourself back to you – it just sort of stays inside. So, to me, love is not a word you can use to describe yourself. You can talk about self-esteem, or being happy with how you perceive yourself or how you’re seen by others. But love has to be outward in direction.

That’s what I think – when I know what love is. There are frequently days when I’m just confused by the whole sticky, messy issue. Friends come up to me and declare “I’m in love!” and because I’m not very good at that sort of sugary, smiley “Congratulations!” thing, I sort of stand there like a lump and say “Oh. Good.” Which doesn’t feel like quite the right response.

See, I can’t help but think: “It won’t last.” It’s not that I’m so jaded, I don’t think. It’s just that I can’t get too enthusiastic when the future’s so uncertain. It’s hard enough for me to care about the beginning of people’s relationships… It’s even harder to have to care when it ends, if you never paid much mind to the beginning. It feels like a chunk of time has slipped by, and that friend left to go on a journey to Narnia and now expects me to believe in magic wardrobes.

Only I can’t, because, I’ve never been inside a magic wardrobe. There have been times in my short life where I have felt strongly for another person, and then I came out of it. These relationships are either long distance, non-reciprocal or containing limited physical intimacy. They are always short – the more reciprocal, the shorter. When I’m not in the fuzzy haze of what I will call infatuation (after the event),  I wonder what I gained.

Was I in love? It’s hard to tell when you come out the other side. It’s disturbing to think that those intense feelings, for all intents and purposes, meaningless. The other person wasn’t involved like I was. There was no substance to the relationship. From an objective standpoint, it did not exist.

But for me, it existed. It’s a hard thing to get your head around, and in all honesty I think we could do with being more sympathetic to people who’ve felt that way; even if it’s about a celebrity or someone they don’t know. OK, so it’s not “real” love.

“Real”, “not real” – that’s irrelevant. Philosophers have spent their entire lives trying to define reality and come up short. There’s no eureka moment about it. What’s real for you in that time will always be real – in that moment of time. Think of time as a space, a solid thing. Those memories exist, as if in a locked box. They’ll always exist, even if the context behind them disappears.

Being told your feelings are meaningless only exacerbates the sensation of isolation. The deciding factor is your actions; if you can let it go, so you don’t cause problems for the other person, and allow yourself to be able to move on some day, then you are entitled to what you feel.

Those feelings belong to you, and don’t have to be any more obstructive of anyone else’s life than an emphatic interest in bonsai collecting. In that sense, they are not even the business of the person concerned. Well, you wouldn’t want your bonsai collection to question your motives.

Because “love”‘s not a fixed concept, or a tangible thing, you could argue that love isn’t real. Or, you could say that all love is real, when it makes you feel anything different to how you were feeling. In that way, it is a tangible thing – that’s the only grip we have on the reality of love. It is felt, therefore it is.

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  1. “Love”: Thine enemy | Adrain on Society

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