Love, and the World Around Us

“Love is the condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.”

“Jealousy is a disease; love is a healthy condition. The immature mind often confuses one for the other, or assumes the greater the love, the greater the jealousy. In fact they are almost incompatible; both at once produce unbearable turmoil.”

Stranger In A Strange Land

Robert A. Heinlein
All spoken by the character of Jubal Hershaw

There are a few different kinds of love I want to talk about.  The last few days have been instructive in some ways, and I want to share some of what I’m thinking.

First off, watching The Holiday, just for shits and giggles.  But, the opening – when Kate Winslet has her little screed about unrequited love – really did bug me.

You see, to me, I look at love in the way that Robert A. Heinlein looks at it (see the quotes to the right – particularly the first one).

If I love someone, it doesn’t matter if it is romantic love, platonic love or familial love, that person’s happiness is just as important as my own.

In the case of a romantic, unrequited love, it doesn’t make me sad or upset if the person chooses someone else.  Why? Because, that other person makes him or her happy.  And if I love them, their happiness is just as important to me as my own.  It is essential to me that that person is happy.

I’m not going to mope around and whine that I’m not good enough.  I have enough places where that particular feeling pops up, I don’t need to make up another one.  Because the truth is, loving someone else doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with me.  It just means that the person has needs I don’t fulfill.  And that’s OK.  I wouldn’t want them to be with me and be miserable.

Then, there is the actual requited romantic love.  That’s a bigger issue. Because it requires an entire slew of mature choices, beyond just whether someone else’s happiness is as essential as your own.  It involves trust, respect and the ability to allow someone else the freedom you yourself expect.

The reality is, it doesn’t matter if you are monogamous or not.  Jealousy is NEVER a healthy emotion in a relationship.  Jealousy is a matter of control and power.  It is possessiveness and territorialism.  If you can’t accept that the person you love is a separate individual, and has their own needs that may not mirror your own, you probably shouldn’t be in a relationship.

Jealousy is a sick emotion.  It is what happens when someone allows their fears to rule them, and gives them the excuse to attempt to control the life of another adult.

Is it possible to never be jealous? I used to think so, because I very rarely felt it.  But, sadly, that says more about my own issues with emotions and relationships than about the healthy interaction in my relationships.  Now that I have had real romantic love in my life (with the current boyfriend, and with previous ones), there are points when jealousy rears its ugly head.  But that doesn’t mean I have to give in to it.  It doesn’t mean that the emotion is reasonable.  It really is just my own insecurities and fears rising.  And I do my best to not allow it to affect my relationship with my boyfriend.

Categories: Mental Retraining, Non-Monogamy, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “Love, and the World Around Us

  1. ” It just means that the person has needs I don’t fulfill. And that’s OK. I wouldn’t want them to be with me and be miserable.” – Why do I always hear this from people who are surrounded by love?

    Okay, this is a genetic fallacy and even if I can find some way to justify it, I’d prefer not to.

    It’s perfectly reasonable to be frustrated when someone doesn’t return your affections. It’s perfectly reasonable to be angry and to cut off contact.

    That’s because, just as a person doesn’t owe us we don’t owe them our love. We don’t love people unconditionally. Rejection hurts, and either you forgot what it’s like or you have so many suitors it doesn’t bother you* (Or there is another explanation that I can’t think of. Maybe I’m the emotionally immature one).

    I actually did stay in touch with some girls that rejected me. I only regret staying in touch with my ex and not hurting back when I had the chance. If it wasn’t for me she’d probably be in an abusive relationship or full of self-harm scars. Abandoning me right when I was practicing suicide because of my depression and my sexual dysfunction is, well, rude.

    *Keep in mind I’m talking based on Israeli perspective. The dating scene is very cruel towards males here.

    • I’m going to assume, my dear, that you meant a generalized fallacy (reaching an inductive generalization based on insufficient evidence).

      There are multiple aspects to any relationship, even one in which someone has been “friend zoned.”

      The issue comes down to how you define love. I’ve defined love above for me. It doesn’t depend – FOR ME – on reciprocity.

      Don’t assume I have never been rejected, nor that I have not been rejected recently. Think about what you’ve read in my posts. Over 10 years of celibacy because of a daily rejection by my own husband – receiving all the blame for his supposed “lack of desire” (that actually was fear of impotence). I’m working on a LOT of rejection issues, actually.

      But, it’s taken me decades to realize that rejection is NOT about me. It’s about the person doing the rejecting. It’s about their internalized image of the “perfect lover.” And, it took being “friend zoned” by someone I love quite dearly (and will continue to love, because he does not take advantage of that love, nor does he use me) for me to understand that.

      I understand it because he was very clear about what the image in his head is/was. The man bared his vulnerabilities to me. I offer him my unconditional love because he needs it, even if it is not reciprocated in the same way. He loves me in his own way, and that’s fine.

      It’s not about “owing” anyone love. I don’t OWE anyone any love. No one is ever entitled to love. Love, like forgiveness, is only something offered freely – whether the other person “deserves” it or not. I loved my ex for 20+ years, and I think I can say clearly he never really deserved it or the loyalty that came with it.

      I’m not going to call you “emotionally immature.” It’s not my place to judge that. I’m not in your head, or in your situation. All I can do is state what the view is from my position and perspective.

      And it’s not necessarily a viewpoint from people who are “surrounded by love.” I know a number of people who are actually surrounded by love, who are offered love in so many different ways, but who refuse to accept it unless it conforms to the limited view they have of the world. Sadly, many of them are people in romantic relationships who don’t understand that any relationship must be a two-way street. It cannot be only take, it must be give-and-take. They define love as everyone else sacrificing for their happiness.

      I’m sorry you are struggling. It can be very hard when one feels alone and unloved.

      • Genetic fallacy is when you say that an argument is wrong because of where it came from. If I tell you that you’re wrong because you’re female/loved/never been rejected, I am not actually addressing your reasoning. I’m the fallacious one here.

        Rejection is about both parties. Rejection happens because person X doesn’t find Y because of various qualities. Rejection can’t happen without both parties.

        I think love that is not reciprocated in some way is unhealthy. Don’t go hanging on the coattails of a person who doesn’t return any of your affections.

        I’m not saying we can be friends with people who friendzoned us (Useful term, but the friend zone is underrated). I kept in touch with a girl who friend zoned me for a long time. She did not return my romantic feelings, but she clearly valued me as a friend. Even if it wasn’t a close friend of conversations into the night, I wouldn’t say I didn’t count for her.

        Then again, rejection happens in all kinds of ways. If a girl dumps me in my darkest times because of sexual impotence (Because of depression + military, which hates men) and quickly replaces me with a model, it’s rational to be angry. It’s rational to have negative feelings towards her and wish her ill. If a guy dumped a girl for not being ready for sex we’ll call him shallow.

        I don’t like that attitude that I’ve seen recently, of the whole “So what if you got rejected? Nobody owes you anything! Get over it!” (I want to write a blogpost about how people accuse bands like Glassjaw or Drake misogynistic becuase of that) thing. It’s toxic masculinity again. Rejection hurts and the rejector is in a position of power. Be thankful someone loved you. The rejected can’t be consoled with that.

      • From a psychological perspective, the harm that rejection does depends on two things: a) the intent and choices of the person doing the rejection; and b) the perspective of the rejected. So, in that much, yes – rejection requires 2 people. However, for me, I look to the motives of the rejection, which can often be found in the way that someone rejects you. Motive means a lot to me, and is a sure sign to me that I am better off without that toxic person in my life.

        MOST of the rejection I have received in my life relates to a number of aspects of who I am. They aren’t just about the weight issue, although that has been used as an excuse quite frequently. But, if I drill down into intent and motivation, it more comes down to the fact that I rarely conform to the damsel in distress (which I usually describe as damsel-in-a-dress) mode that many men seem to have hard-wired into their brains.

        My core personality is considered quite masculine. I’m assertive (which is often considered aggressive or intimidating to others, both male and female); independent (partly due to the armor I’ve carried most of my life, covering and protecting my vulnerabilities); intelligent (and I refuse to hide my intelligence just to stroke someone else’s ego); willing to stand by my convictions and principles (where many women seem to be willing to change to be acceptable to someone as a partner); and honestly, blunt as shit. I’m not always known for tact and/or diplomacy.

        As for unreciprocated love, I agree that if someone is unwilling to care about you that is quite unhealthy to maintain, just as much as unreciprocated love that is used and abused. But, I don’t necessarily feel that there is any kind of hierarchy of love in my own mind. I simply love. So, in the case of my friend, there is reciprocated love, but most other people would consider our dynamic to be unhealthy because he loves me as a friend and I just love him. The only difference on my end between his love for me and my love for him is sex as an expression of that love. And, since he is monogamous, I respect that aspect of who he is.

        Impotence is a horrid experience – for both the person experiencing it, and the person with whom it is experienced. And too often, the other person takes on some form of internal responsibility for it, becoming defensive and feeling attacked by the impotence itself. Given how many issues that lead to impotence (physical and mental/emotional), we MUST learn to not treat it as shameful nor that it is the fault of either partner. To me, it is yet another place where our current society is toxic to both men and women. I do have a post on ED coming down the pike (tomorrow in fact).

  2. I read somewhere that when we are strong enough to face our fears we would wonder at how we feared them at all. It’s one of those paradoxical conundrum where you know what it is you have to do to overcome those feelings of insecurities, but if you could do it you wouldn’t have felt insecure in the first place.

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