My sister and I had a rather interesting conversation the other day. She told me that I could “get a boyfriend any time I wanted to.” I have to say, from her, this was a rather utterly confusing and somewhat shocking statement. You might ask “Why?” Let me answer you with a photo.
This image is a photo from August 6th, 1988. How do I know the exact date, you ask? Because it was her wedding day to her own ex-husband. Obviously, I’m the woman on the far left, as maid of honor. This is what I looked like the year I turned 20 (technically, I suppose, on this exact date I was still 19). She was just one month shy of 24.
The two women in between us are my mother, next to my sister, and our mother’s eldest sister (who is 90 and STILL going strong), who was also my godmother.
I’ve lived most of my life with a specter in my mind that my beautiful, “normal sized” sister was the popular one with guys. That no one ever looked at me when she was around, because that’s exactly what happened during those few times we were together during our mutual teen years. We were rarely together because she went to the same boarding school that I did. She left for it the year I turned 10, and when she graduated in 1982, I went immediately to the same boarding school, while she moved in with our grandmother Rose.
She’s obviously older now, and no longer has her “girlish figure,” but she is still smaller than I am. Even after 3 pregnancies, and with me losing 92 pounds, I’m still larger than she is.
And I’ll admit, I still see her as the far more beautiful of the two of us. To my mind, SHE has always been the one who “get a boyfriend any time [she] wanted to” and still is.
When I asked her why she thought that way, she gave the following reasons:
- Of the two of us, I am far more social than she is. Given that she (and my parents for that matter) are introverted, but can ‘fake’ extroversion when necessary; while I’m far more of an ambivert, this is not that much of a revelation. I used to call myself an “introvert, who presents as an extrovert” (in this case, the phrase “presents as” essentially means ‘to give the impression of’).
- Based on a comparison of our personalities, there are things I find acceptable about a man that she does not.
There’s absolutely nothing in there about being polyamorous, or even about being promiscuous. By her definition of promiscuous (and technically by the dictionary as well), I suppose I am because over my lifetime I’ve had 70+ lovers. But, the other half of the definition (i.e. indiscriminate or being unwilling to make careful choices in who I sleep with), I sincerely disagree with. I am extremely careful in the choices of whom I sleep with, and am careful to practice safe sex.
Why? Because as a polyamorous woman, if I catch something from a lover – I could easily pass it along to my partner(s). I’m absolutely not willing to do that. Besides, I have OTHER high standards for a man before I’m willing to be intimate with him. I might fail to recognize something, but I trust the other people I love to point out the truth if I am missing something. And no, I do NOT in any way, shape or form hide or lie to my partner(s) about who I am intimate with.
But, back to the subject at hand, I’ve never, ever seen myself as a woman who could “get any man I wanted.” Perhaps it is a matter of having a poor self-worth (although, I continue to work on that), but my past experience honestly seems to contradict that. Every major relationship I have ever had has shown up pretty much out of the blue.
I honestly don’t remember how I got into the first relationship I had. But I remember the beginning of every other serious relationship since that one. I met the ex at a religious event, not even expecting or necessarily even wanting a relationship. More recently, once I started dating again, I’ve had a few friends-with-benefits (FWB) relationships. I have a man who spoke up when I started to talk about wanting to start dating again, and was a good friend and I’d like to think is still a friend – although, I did hurt him when I broke up with him. And we broke up because of the ex.
And my current boyfriend, I met 2 years before I even considered dating him. It wasn’t until he found me 2 years later (having spent much of that 2 years actually looking for me) that we started dating. Seriously, he was an absolute surprise – but one I thank my lucky stars for.
But, if I’m bluntly honest with myself, I’ve only ever actively pursued one man in my life. I’ve introduced myself to a few FWB relationships, but never truly actively pursued. And that one man is still a friend, even though I am not what he needs or wants in a partner. No, it’s not “unrequited love.” I love him, and he loves me as a friend. I don’t really put qualifiers on my love. I love my parents and siblings with the same love as I do my friends, and the same love I have for my boyfriend. The only real difference is that part of my expression of that love with my boyfriend is sexual, while the expression of my love for those others will never be sexual (qualifying the different category of friends-with-benefits, of course).
And that is where the title for this post comes from. For me, love is just love. I don’t split love into storge, philia, agape and eros (storge being kind of a combination of filial [family] love, and other forms of empathy for others). I have an unlimited, infinite supply of love. And love for one person does not mean that there is less love available for anyone else.