For a very long time I thought I was weird. I mean, I am weird in so many fun and delightful ways, but I thought there was something seriously wrong with me. In the past I have been able to fall in love at the drop of a hat. Someone would say just the right thing, smile just the right way and I would melt pretty much instantly. I would find it impossible, sometimes for a real long time, to think of anything but this person. I thought this made me some kind of obsessive freak.
Turns out this isn’t so much the case, at least not with the thinking about the object of my affection so much. Helen Fisher, my new favorite anthropologist (what you don’t have one) gave a talk on the Brain in Love at the annual TED conference. Apparently everyone who falls in love finds it hard to think of anything except the person they have fallen in love with. I also have a tendency to stay in love with everyone I have ever fallen in love with, to some degree, unless they have been needlessly cruel. I have been reassured by a dear friend that this too is relatively normal. The jury is still out on the falling so easily thing.
This all gets me thinking, though, about the nature of love, and why we find the need to pigeon-hole it and the relationships in which it exists. We limit ourselves to romantic or fraternal love denying ourselves so much pleasure in each others’ company. Oh sure men will say “I love you man” but with a nudge and a wink that lets the other know they don’t mean “like that.” Women find it easier to admit love for each other but even then, in our strange, current condition where sapphic love is more accepted yet there still exists an undercurrent of homophobia even they feel the need to hedge more (though still not as much as the boys.)
We frown on relationships we don’t understand. There is a shrinking but still significant minority who are not merely intolerant of homosexuality, but hold gay men and women in absolute contempt. We view people who do not want to commit to one relationship as flighty. Polyamory is, perhaps, even less approved of than being gay, bi or pan. I don’t understand this. Isn’t more love a good thing? Why do we treat love like some sort of Malthusian resource? Why can’t two people of the same sex be committed to each other in the bonds of love with out getting sex and romance mixed up in it? (I rather like Jay’s description of Bob as his “hetero life mate.”)
I look at all the pain in the world and, maybe it’s the hippy in me, I can’t help but think it would fade into a dull ache if we just learned to open our hearts to love, all love, more. With this in mind, I want you all to know, no matter how disappointed or angry I get with you, or how embarrassed and awkward I get about my behavior: I love you, all of you, and I hope you learn to love me, and each other, in turn.