Crazy little thing called Love

I once had a boyfriend who hated the word ‘love’ and the fact that I used it so often. In his mind, to pronounce one’s love of a thing/person/place somehow devalued not only the concept of love, but the love that one (I) was offering. To him, the more love I professed, the less love I actually HAD. This is not a hugely uncommon train of thought, and is shared by such illustrious (although somewhat fucked-up) men as DH Lawrence (who strikes me as a complete pain in the arse as a partner, wonderful writer though he was).

The qualifier in this story is the fact that at the time I was all of 17 and the boyfriend – I hesitate to call him ‘lover’ – was 32.

Even then, in all my youthful romantic idealism and bubbling hyperbole, his attitude struck me as pretty churlish, particularly as he espoused a kind of messianic “love-for-the-masses” propaganda, despite having trouble scraping together enough love for one.

I was confused. I felt that the more love I indulged in, the more love I had to share, even if it wasn’t all pure and noble. What was wrong with loving baby chickens? How could loving small things that go ‘peep’, sunrises, porridge with cream, new shoes, a record, anything – how could that mean I wasn’t capable of enduring, abiding, deep and faithful love? How could being capable of loving small, fleeting things mean that my love was only small and fleeting? It didn’t, of course. But I was shocked that anyone could believe that it might.

Which lead me to ponder about love, the nature of love, the weird, all-consuming intangible that plagues us throughout our lives, comforts and reassures, contains wild euphoria and crushing despair, that is a steady rock and a lightening flash. There aren’t enough words to name it in all it’s incarnations. It’s unfortunate. I say this because the word is overworked, tired, bearing the burden of expectation and perceived sticky strands of obligation. It’s a loaded gun in the wrong hands. Lovers sweat over it (who will say it first?) and at the same time toss it around in conversations about things, objects, experiences, dishes. Hate is somehow less offensive, less scary, and certainly easier to say or hear. “I hate you”. Haha, whatever. “I love you”. Umm…we need to talk.

I have burst out with an exuberant “I love you!” in moments when, more clearly, perhaps I meant “In this moment I am experiencing love for you in this place here and now, because you are an inextricable part this moment, which I am loving”. Yeah, it’s clumsy.

And sometimes I have bitten the words off in my mouth for fear that they may be misconstrued.

And now, some years on, I find myself returning to the question of love. Perhaps it is my own fault for using the word so much, but I find those four letters are too small or wrongly shaped and won’t stretch to fit the loves I have.

There is the intermittent lover, whom I love with all my heart. I love his odd, withdrawn, fantastical, moody, wise, foolish, generous, inconsistent flawed humanity. It’s love like a sun-shower, magical and fresh.

Then there is the steady, beloved friend, whom I love with all my heart. I love his goodness which is grown in the marrow of his bones. It’s love like an act of devotion, a chant at mass or prayer over a bank of candles, maybe.

Both of these kinds of love are new to me and, reluctant as I am to submit to the unknown, neither frightens me. This is quite weird, even by my standards. The strangest part is that I feel the need to claim neither as my own. The question has never been asked, and for all I know, it never will. We bandy the word about like a game of frisbee where players are welcome to wander in and out at will. I love these loves.

One Response to “Crazy little thing called Love”

  1. The content below (written by Germaine Greer) does not necessarily reflect the views of the management. At least not all the time.

    In Love
    In Pain
    In Shock
    In Trouble