Tag Archives: love

Things that matter are not easy. Feelings of happiness are easy. Happiness is not. Flirting is easy. Love is not. Saying you’re friends is easy. Being friends is not.

–David Levithan

(via Things I’ve Learned from Being Open)


Commitment to truth telling lays the groundwork for the openness and honesty that is the heartbeat of love. When we can see ourselves as we truly are and accept ourselves, we build the necessary foundation for self-love. We have all heard the maxim “If you do not love yourself, you will be unable to love anyone else.” It sounds good. Yet more often than not we feel some degree of confusion when we hear this statement. The confusion arises because most people who think they are not lovable have this perception because at some point in their lives they were socialized to see themselves as unlovable by forces outside their control. We are not born knowing how to love anyone, either ourselves or somebody else. However, we are born able to respond to care. As we grow we can give and receive attention, affection, and joy. Whether we learn how to love ourselves and others will depend on the presence of a loving environment.

Self-love cannot flourish in isolation. It is no easy task to be self-loving. Simple axioms that make self-love sound easy only make matters worse. It leaves many people wondering why, if it is so easy, they continue to be trapped by feelings of low self-esteem or self-hatred. Using a working definition of love that tells us it is the action we take on behalf of our own or another’s spiritual growth provides us with a beginning blueprint for working on the issue of self-love. When we see love as a combination of trust, commitment, care, respect, knowledge, and responsibility, we can work on developing these qualities or, if they are already a part of who we are, we can learn to extend them to ourselves.

–bell hooks, All About Love: New Visions

(via Molten Soul)

Why do I have romantic relationships? What do I get out of them?

This is my first legitimately romantic relationship. I get out of romantic relationships a lot of things that I also get from friendships, but also some things that are exclusive to romantic relationships, and some things that are exclusive to a certain kind of romantic relationship. I’ve told JJ in the past that I think of my romantic relationships as friendship+. By that I mean that in my close friendships I get emotional support, people to do activities with, feelings of acceptance and support, people to help me with problems or issues, people to celebrate and have fun with, and a feeling of love and like my presence and who I am as a person is appreciated or cherished by this person. Many of my closest friendships also involve a degree of easy physical (but non-sensual/sexual) touch, both currently and historically. I am a very touchy-feely person and I crave physical touch — in my previous lives on campus or in high school, my days were full of small touches in the middle of conversation, resting my head on other people’s shoulders, massages, people playing with my hair, etc. So, all of those things exist both within the realm of friendship and the realm of romantic relationship.

Romantic relationships have elements all their own as well. In a romantic relationship, touch becomes the norm, and sensual/sexual touch is on the table at pretty much any moment. Romantic relationships have a level of entwinement that doesn’t exist in close friendships — I structure my life around them on a daily basis. I have romantic relationships when my feeling of wanting to be around someone goes beyond the way I feel about friends and into a space that wants to be sensual/sexual and life-entwined, when the pleasure I feel from spending time with someone feels like a thing I want to have as much of in my life as possible, a thing to be prioritized over others. Romance goes beyond friendship to say that I want to exist with this person as some sort of a unit, a we. It adds dimensions to the love I experience in close friendships, growing past a love for me as a person and my presence to include a love for my body and a love for the life we are building together. Entwinement brings love and touch and appreciation and companionship and the pleasure of experiencing life with this person into my everyday life, especially when the relationship progresses to cohabitation, which feels like the natural direction a healthy relationship flows towards to me.


We are not interchangeable. I could never replace you. Yes, I want to be part of their day to day life. I want to deeply know them. But I want those things from you too.

I want to intertwine our lives. I want to build my life with all of you. I love each of you deeply and intensely and in completely different ways. I love being surprised by each of you but more than that I find comfort in the knowing. In the not being surprised.

I like that we can talk without words, even a little bit. I like that I don’t need either of you to translate for me every time something happens.

I like being comfortable. I can’t tell you how happy I am to be very slowly moving past being the new shiny thing. Because the more that wears off, the more I know you and you know me, the less I’m scared that it will crash down around me.

I love you more than words can say and I want nothing more than to kiss away your worries. I can’t do that so instead I’ll just keep holding your hand and whispering these words over and over and over.

(via PolyLove Girl’s Blog)

I do not understand the above sentiments. I don’t understand how it is possible to feel them. I don’t understand how someone can want to build one’s life with multiple people. I don’t understand how to be comfortable existing within such a structure, how to have only parts of a whole and feel fulfilled. I want these things from you “too” feels inherently like a lessening, a devaluing, and accessorizing to me; I don’t want to be an accessory in anyone’s life. I don’t and cannot understand loving multiple people romantically in different ways as a person who has only experienced romantic love once, and rarely experiences romantic attraction. I do not understand how the above sentiments are desirable to have or to have expressed to you. I do not understand.

I read Franklin Veaux’s The Game Changer: A Memoir of Disruptive Love yesterday, and one of the points he kept coming back to was that a fundamental problem in his 18-year relationship with his monogamish wife was that his wife “genuinely wanted to learn how to be more comfortable with polyamory. But she did not really understand the implications of her decision, because she did not, ultimately, understand [his] ideas about family. Celeste and [he] were deadlocked; try as [he] might, [he] did not (and still [doesn’t]) understand monogamy, and she did not understand polyamory. It’s difficult to trust someone you don’t understand.” (180).

I have read a lot of books about non-monogamy, alternative relationships, and polyamory, and this was the first that made me feel like this is definitely not for me and I have no parts trying to find a way to make it otherwise. I don’t know whether to believe it. I don’t know where the lines are between cowardice and bravery, between hopefulness and delusion, between trying our hardest and masochism, between being defeatist and recognizing the truth, between flexibility and being a doormat, between what I want and what I need. I feel overwhelmed by concepts I don’t understand.

But there is a shadow around this image: who is to say whether a love relation is real or is really something else, a passing fancy or a trick someone plays (on herself, on another) in order to sustain a fantasy? This is a psychological question about the reliability of emotional knowledge, but it is also a political question about the ways norms produce attachments to living through certain fantasies. What does it mean about love that its expressions tend to be so conventional, so bound up in institutions like marriage and family, property relations, and stock phrases and plots? This is a question about subjectivity too, therefore, but it is also about ideology. The difficulty of determining love’s authenticity has generated a repository of signs, stories, and products dedicated to verifying that the “real thing” exists both among people and in other relations — for example, between people and their nations, their Gods, their objects, or their pets. But these signs of love are not universal, and their conventionality suggests, in addition, that love can be at once genuine and counterfeit, shared and hoarded, apprehensible and enigmatic.

–Lauren Berlant

(via Square Dancing with Giants)


The person you love is not the same as they were when you first started loving them and they are not the same as they will be when you die. Love must be adaptive. Love must be smart enough and strong enough to survive constant change. Love must not be rigid.

(via Realistic Optimist)

We have been on a journey for almost two and a half years now, JJ and I. We have both changed in some ways and been incredibly consistent in others. We have both learned things about ourselves and about what we want and need from each other and from other people. Saying I love him now encompasses a different world of meanings than it did when  we first said it almost two years ago. We are not un-used to change. That doesn’t mean we can adapt to anything, but it should serve as a reminder that we’ve survived some strong winds in the past.

How do I define commitment? Is it possible for me to commit to more than one person at a time, and if so, what would those commitments look like?

This is a hard one for me. I’m trying to think about when I first felt like my relationship with JJ was a thing I was committed to. I remember talking to KS before JJ and I had said we loved one another but when I was realizing that I loved him, and saying that being with him had already caused me to need to rethink what intimacy and commitment look like. I think that commitment involves being willing to push through situations and emotions and experiences that are difficult or unpleasant or even hurtful to a degree in favor of trying to find satisfactory solutions to all parties. I think it involves being able to say I want to be with you right now, and I expect that that will not change tomorrow or otherwise in the immediate future; I associate it with planning and being able to be counted on to exist in one another’s lives. I think of commitment as having decided you’re not playing around with the relationship you’re in, that it is “serious” and “going somewhere” and is a thing to be prioritized and built upon and around. The day I realized that this relationship as it stood wasn’t working for me and wanted to work with JJ to figure out a way that it could, that I wanted to voice my concerns and put in work to make things feel better, rather than just peacing out because it wasn’t what I wanted, is the day that I first felt committed to us as an idea. I don’t think I could have gotten to the point of saying “I love you” without feeling committed.

I think that with a lot of communication between all involved parties and agreement and structure, it is possible to commit to multiple people at a time, but I am not sure that such agreements on JJ’s part with myself and someone else could reliably meet my intimate needs from a romantic relationship. The knowledge that he wants to commit himself to more than one person is one that inspires anxiety and fear in me; I wish I knew what it was like to have the feelings I have for him fully reciprocated.