This is about people. This is about learning and understanding your feels.
When I was younger I used to say ‘I love you’ without fully understanding the gravity of this statement. It was a pretence, a way of thanking someone for their thoughtfulness. It was also something I believed you were supposed to say if you wanted to start and keep a relationship. The phrase ‘I love you’ didn’t have any emotional meaning for me. I grew up with a mother who used this phrase every morning, every minute, and every night (which isn’t a bad thing). For me, it didn’t encompass the spectrum of meaning I now understand it to hold.
For all the words in the English language it’s difficult to be articulate and concise. ‘Love’ is a word used for things we don’t truly love. It’s thrown about as a quick, easy word to say we enjoy something, appreciate it, like it a bit. This is definitely not an invalid use of the word but it is used for things we don’t necessarily ‘love’. My breakfast sandwich this morning was yummy but I probably didn’t feel a surge of connection and fall in love with it.
At sixteen I finally understood what I was saying to people – to my friends, to my crushes, to my parents, to my sandwich.
Love: I have found something in you that fills me with an exploding, constricting, breathtaking elation. Your behaviour, opinions, health, mentality and happiness matter to me – perhaps even more than my own well being. I might not swoon every time I see you, but you have rooted yourself inside my heart. When you hurt, I hurt. When you smile and laugh, I fly inside. When you succeed, I celebrate for you. I find you to be a wonderful person and, if it’s OK, I want to be a friend you can depend upon, because I love you.
This is one hell of a statement. When I realised this, I refused to say ‘I love you’ to anyone or for anything that was not my family. For such a powerful emotion it’s no wonder people write about it all the time! This is the reason knights kill dragons, the kind of thing geisha and samurai die from. This is an ancient spell for wars, heroes, and people drawn together through destiny.
It took me another few years to understand: that’s romantic bullshit. Lovely bullshit, mind you, but bullshit all the same.
The purpose of this post is to tell you that I am in love with a lot of people (half of them I haven’t even met) and I don’t feel silly to admit this. I never understood fangirls or why people cared about actors/writers/artists they couldn’t meet – especially people who proclaimed to be in love with these stars (although I still think it’s creepy to assault celebrities with pages of undying love, no matter how valid your feelings). To me, it only made sense to care about book characters because those people you could at least meet in your head. But now I get it. They’re living, breathing people who exist somewhere in the world. Really nice people.
I still don’t use the word lightly, especially when talking about people, but there are billions of humans. It’s impossible and illogical to believe that there is only one person we are compatible with and that we should project all our appreciation onto a singular person. And I’m not saying we should all live polyamorously and abandon two-people-partnerships.
I’m saying there are a lot of fantastic people and, over the years, I’ve come to understand what it is to love someone.
And that I can be in love with many people without hurting anyone (a.k.a. ‘tradition dictates that you can only be in love one person so don’t tell everyone you love them or people will get jealous and a thousand years of death and darkness will rule the earth’).
In other languages, such as Greek and Japanese, they have words that define love differently depending on who you’re talking to. For years I was frustrated that English didn’t have the same articulation. I wanted to tell my friend, “I’m in love you with you” without making her want to run and hide. Now I think: is there any other form of love? Do we need other words to express ourselves when talking to our friends, parents, and spouse? Beneath all the sex, marriage, and courtship we instantly associate with traditional love, you’re still left with the same strong feelings of connection.
At first, it was like free falling without a parachute and I had to open myself to the void before I could find the pure fan-fucking-tasticness that is knowing I can be in love with my friends and my boyfriend. I no longer feel jealousy when it comes to all forms of relationships or confused about my sexuality.
I don’t necessarily want to date all these people, either. In fact, I gain great comfort in seeing those I love find someone else they would like to be with for the rest of their lives. Their happiness makes me happy.
People are amazing and, on the whole, kind. Gender and marriage has nothing to do with love. It’s a strange word. It has a lot feel.