Thursday, February 09, 2012

Love and Spades


To "call a spade a spade" is to speak honestly and directly about a topic, to speak plainly - to describe something as it really is.

I wanted to think about the word love and what it means. I know about loving your food, your car or your new dress but I think passion for, or excitement are more appropriate in this context. I want to talk about love the ‘higher emotion’, as applied to relationships.

St. Thomas Aquinas, following Aristotle, defines love as "to will the good of another." Philosopher Gottfried Leibniz said that love is "to be delighted by the happiness of another."

I think of love as ‘wanting for another what they want for themselves’. I have heard this described as unconditional love, but surely this ‘unconditionallity’ is really what defines the grown up 'higher emotion' of love, as opposed to the needy love of a child.

Loving unconditionally is not just saying 'I love you' to get needs met. It’s the old phrase 'if you love someone, set them free', but in action rather than in concept. In action, means not doing it (setting someone free) because 'you think you should', but because that is the true expression of what you want for yourself and another person. That is simply real pure love.

So a good way to look at love is to consider its maturity in yourself. As maturity will show you the purity so to speak. The maturity is simply how much conditionality you need around love. I would go as far as saying that unless love is unconditional, its not really love at all, it is need and attachment being called love. I think its much better to call a spade a spade, as until you do, it's going to be hard to grow up.

I define an emotional adult as someone who naturally loves unconditionally. This can be turned on its head to say a healthy adult human is a natural expression of unconditional love.

A human who has conditionality around love is not yet fully emotionally mature, not yet an adult in love.

I think we live in a world ravaged by a rampant epidemic of neediness masked as love, but to add to it we are taught that the neediness is bad, and so we add another whole layer of emotional shame on top of the neediness.

This is denial, plain and simple. And the denial is self-policing, because of the stigma of appearing needy in others' eyes. The cycle of 'shame hiding neediness' fuels the epidemic. Children pretending to be adults, but really not able to fully walk yet.

So how do we pretend ?

Instead of being able to relate to someone in the present moment we project into the future and try and control that future. One of the main ways this projection is done is by using labels and contracts about relationships.

If I meet someone and concepts of monogamy, open relationships or polyamorous relationships are something that is relevant to them, I take it that they are living in a projected fantasy for security. The requiring of agreements and contracts before you can be in the present moment with someone is really just fear of the present moment.

If real growth is something that matters to you, the ability to be present is a good goal. I found this goal would both elude and delude me while I needed labels to project in the future about relating with others. But at the same time forcing yourself to be an adult when you are still a child is far more damaging.

When I have heard people talk about open or poly relationships these have often come across as masks for forms of power/control dynamics that can be just as present in monogamous relating. The most damaging things I have come across in relationships seem to occur when emotional children treat themselves or others as adults when really they need to treat themselves and others as children, and understand/admit what this really means for themselves on an emotional level. The moment you get this you are most rapidly becoming an adult and it's really why I wrote this piece.

If any of this makes any sense to you, here are some considerations to play with:

If you place yourself as a child in this context, and growing up is something you would want to consider,  is there shame around feeling/admitting yourself a child? Can you love that child? Do you really feel that shame is a healthy thing to maintain?

The best way to move beyond shame is to admit what is real about it, to yourself and others, this helps it to lose its charge and frees your binding to that emotional state.

Being present means moving out of fantasy into reality; I believe calling a spade a spade can be especially relevant and particularly dynamic in this process when it comes to love.


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Inspired by C


4 comments:

Damian said...

Great article Servan!

I'm definitely still a child in many ways, but I'm trying to grow up...

Damian

Helga Von Porno said...

Hmm, good article, I wonder about this child/adult metaphor. It is a metaphor isn't it? People talk about unconditional love as if it is a goal, the highest achievment reached after climbing out of conditonal love. I have heard people say they have experienced it through parenting. But I wonder if the metaphor is the wrong way round. It is children who love unconditionally, so unconditionally they don't understand the adult concept. It is adults who have been trained to live in consumer society that use love as a bargaining tool.
I very much enjoyed the observation about people who talk about polyamour and monogamy,

Servan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Servan said...

The definition I used for 'child' is someone (grownup age wise or not) that needs looking after, cant fend on their own in the world (emotionally in this case). A mature/adult is one who can fend for themselves in the world.