I’ve never been in love
I’m sorry I can’t help you, I cannot keep you safe
I’m sorry I can’t help myself, so don’t look at me that way
We can’t fight gravity on a planet that insists
That love is like falling
And falling is like this.
I started this post thinking that I would tell you I’ve never been in love. Then, while trying to define “in love” – I got stuck. I have never felt the earth shake, or seen rainbows burst into the sky or been struck dumb by the love I feel for another person. I’ve been heartbroken. I’ve had very deep and sometimes inexplicable feelings for other people, but it has never felt like what people are talking about when they say “in love.” To me, someone who is “in love” has lost touch with reason. It is someone who has no personal boundaries to keep them safe. Someone who is in love has entirely unreasonable expectations for life and the other people in it. When you’re in love, you do idiotic things, hurt other people, forsake family and lifelong friends, and trash your own dreams for the future in favor of spending what you may expect to be the rest of your life with this magical perfect person. Maybe I’m being too generous with myself. There have been people who, for a time, drove me to foolish behavior – not because of anything they did, but because of the way I felt around them. Interestingly, however, these were not the same people as I was fucking. Usually the people that I love this way are the ones that, actually, I can’t or otherwise shouldn’t and don’t fuck. In hindsight, I don’t think I loved these people.
So, if you’re familiar with me, you might have a working knowledge of my sexual history (since that is what I write about!). I suspect that a big reason I’ve never really been “in love” is that I didn’t actually start dating until I was 23. Because: religion, culture, and I used to be a Christian missionary (which was short-lived and actually helped me to come out, rather than shoving me further into my sexual closet – not exactly the effect they were going for!). Another reason is that long before I ever got into a relationship, I was researching sexuality, relationships and gender and stumbled upon some facts.
- Nothing lasts forever
- No one is perfect
- One person alone can never satisfy all of another person’s physical/mental/emotional needs
This is what I knew going into my very first ever relationship. (Cross Reference: I had already been to my first Body Electric School workshop, an absolutely terrified little girl taking a crash course in sex with essentially no prior knowledge on the subject). Even though I immediately connected with Dana, even though the only time I went home after our first date was to get my stuff, even though it only took us a week to say “I Love You” and mean it… I always had those three things in mind. Nothing lasts forever. No one is perfect (and that is OK). One person alone can never satisfy all of another person’s physical/mental/emotional needs. I loved her. I still love her. I will always love her. Nearly three years after we ended things, I can still say this because it’s true. But I still wouldn’t say I was “in love.” There have been others like that, too, that didn’t last as long. People I was never in a relationship with. Crave. Kali. I haven’t told you about Kali. It’s been a year and I’m still having a hard time arranging my words about Kali. It will have to wait for another day. But. Kali. The magnetic pull was palpable. Sometimes, at least for me, it still is. But several varieties of distance (both natural and manufactured) have kept all that potential from coming to life.
Another facet of “in love” is romance. I’ve never really felt comfortable with socially recognizable gestures of romance, like flowers, gifts, door opening and all that stuff that is supposed to make my heart go pitter patter. Blegh. Ok. That’s totally not true, I’ve just realized. I once thought I loved someone enough to dress nice and bring her flowers and run errands for her while she was at work and do things for her, and protect her and help her do scary things (like make appointments doctor’s appointments and deal with customer service representatives?)… that may have been my one and only experience with being “in love” – but honestly, I would call that an infatuation that was allowed to go on longer than it should have. At the same time, it provided a lot of valuable lessons that I probably would not have learnt otherwise. Deep down, I knew nothing would ever become of it, but I was 21 and closeted and my sexuality was so viciously strangled by me and by others, so this was the result.
After all this time spent thinking about what it is to be “in love” and what it means to love someone, and all the variations of affection and fondness, I am beginning to wonder if this is simple nitpicking over semantics.
I still don’t think I’ve ever been in love. Or if I have, it wasn’t with a sexual partner. Have you ever been in love? Is “in love” different from loving someone?
Remind me to tell you about non-sexual polyamory, and the deep, ancient and unconditional love I feel for my femme sisters, one in particular. And about Kali. And Teo.