Unlike classical Indian literature (such as the Ramayana) Western stories of love tend to be all-or-nothing. In fact, I’ve said it myself in the openings of Open Space conventions:
If you have to think to hard about what you’re passionate about, maybe you’re not actually that passionate about it. It’s like being in love – you either are, or you aren’t.
I want to apologize right now for saying that. The fact is, love is much more complex and graduated than “on” or “off”. It’s a graduated spectrum along which we travel, back and forth sometimes over years but sometimes in a span of minutes. It would be nice if we had some switch that we could turn on and off, so that we just loved the person who was best for us (and vice versa) or who, at least, was most convenient.
Instead, the hormonal reaction that culture tells us is love tends to set us up quite often with people who are least suited to providing us with the things that society tells us love will provide – namely, “happily ever after.” We’re starting to get past that – when I was writing romance fiction, I was told that I didn’t have to make my characters live “happily ever after”, I could make them live “happily for now”.
Which, really, is a pretty good deal.
What Men Talk About
This is where I reveal the secret conversations that go on between two manly men on Black Fridays. Namely, my Canadian stage manager/event producer friend JP Robichaud were chatting online today. Being a stage manager, he often wears black, so obviously it was essential that I wish him a happy day.*
Of course our conversation turned, as it usually does when it’s just us guys, to the nature of love and relationships in contemporary culture. What follows are some of the things we suspect a lot of people wish they could say about love, but aren’t allowed to because you’re either in love, or you aren’t.
- “Hey guys, you know, the idea of getting married is kind of freaking me out right now. I don’t know what it’s going to do to me and for me and it’s more than a bit scary”.
- “I don’t love you as much as I thought I would/wish I did/used to, and it scares me.”
- “I don’t love you RIGHT NOW as much as I I thought I would/wish I did/used to, and I feel terrible about it.”
- “The love I have for you makes me want to leave everything behind just to be in your arms, and that scares the bejeezus out of me.”
- “I don’t love you now as much as I need to, but I’m sticking around anyway because I think that’s going to change.”
- “I think it’s important that we talk about what the action “love” looks like to you, and what the action “love” looks like to me, so we can each recognize it when we’re doing it.”
- “I love another person, too, and I can’t tell you because I suspect you’ll freak out. Hell, I’m freaking out.”**
- “Being in love with you doesn’t mean I’m going to want to do things with you all the time.”
- “Being in love you with you doesn’t mean I HAVE to do things with you all the time.”
So. That’s what we got. Anyone got more to add? There’s a whole comment section down there, just waitin’…
*except I think in Canada, it’s just “Friday”
**Anyone who says “just be polyamorous!” to this one
either hasn’t ever been,
or hasn’t been very long.