“If you love someone, set them free. If they come back, they’re yours. If they don’t, stalk them”
I always chuckle at that line, though now I can’t recall where I heard it. It doesn’t fit in at all with what I’m going to talk about, but it’s funny all the same.
I should start, as one must, by hedging my bets against potential inaccuracies. Love is of course a mystery. I don’t begin to pretend that I understand it. I don’t know that it’s meant to be understood.
The only way I begin to comprehend anything about love is by discovering what it’s not.
Love is not sex. Sex is sex. To confuse the two will lead to poor performance in both endeavors.
I think love is a sort of shared reality that one or more people buy into together. For example, if a man says to a woman, “I Love You” and the woman reciprocates by saying the same. The two parties have both agreed that they are in fact, “in love.” That’s all it takes. They don’t need permission or third party validation. It just takes two.
I think it can even take less. If I really really feel that I love myself. Then I myself am buying into that reality, sharing it with myself in effect. Good enough
Unrequited love is simply where one person buys into a reality and the other doesn’t accept it. Perhaps the most painful love of all.
Then we have to address, at least in passing, that love as a singular word is very over-burdened in being the catch all for describing the wide range of emotions one could attach the word to.
You might now be thinking, “Hey where is this going?”
Well now that I’ve got the random musings laid out, let me get into the meat and potatoes of this post.
Love is Selfish
If I find a girl and shack up with her for a while and wind up feeling intense love for her, that’s totally selfish. I feel those feelings, those feelings make me feel good, in the end I feel great. What an awesome reward!
I’m not experiencing those feelings out of any desire to help her or any sense of duty to society or the world or any nonsense altruism whatsoever. I’m feeling them because it makes me feel great, and selfishly, I want to feel great.
The extension of that love will last only as long as my selfish streak does. The idea that, “there is nothing I wouldn’t do for this girl that I love” may very well hold true. Only because in true love you understand that the other persons happiness is your primary importance. There is little in this life that is more painful than seeing someone that you love suffering. In contrast, there is almost nothing in life that will fill you with joy like that of seeing someone that you love being happy.
It’s still selfish though. It’s still about making yourself feel good.
It’s unfair that selfishness get’s a bad rap. That’s bullshit. Everything we ever do is done selfishly. Even something as simple as helping a little old lady across the street. You feel great about yourself for having helped someone in need and that’s more than enough reward to do it. What’s better than feeling great about yourself?
There are few things in the world that can make you feel as great about yourself as love can.
Food tastes better, sex is more enjoyable, music has deeper meaning, life is just more rich when love is a staple ingredient.
It’s time to start admiring selfishness.
Love Is Out Of Control
If I happen to feel profound love for a girl and she feels something similar towards me, great! But it’s not at all necessary for my own love towards her. That is my decision, and mine alone.
This is an important concept. It puts the onus of love completely on yourself and no one else. That by itself is a liberating thought. It get’s really exciting when you understand the corollary:
“I am not responsible for making anyone else love me.”
Please read that again and let it sink in… I’ll wait.
My love and what I do with it is my own choice and my own responsibility. Other people’s love and what they choose to do with it is their responsibility.
When you understand that something is entirely out of your control it follows easily that you no longer need to do anything at all to try and control it. In fact, if you try to control something that is completely out of your control, you will more than likely hurt yourself and you will certainly be riddled with frustration, anxiety, and fear.
Instead, just accept that there are things beyond your control. Decide that that’s totally fine. Then go about being happy and loving life.
Love is Belonging
This point is crucial. Love is not about possession or ownership. Possession or ownership of people is called slavery. Slavery is bad.
However, I would say that if you truly love someone then you belong to them. By belong I literally mean, “you long to be with them.” This means that when you’re not with that person, you really really wish that you were. It has nothing to do with possession. It has to do only with your selfish desire to be with them.
Personally, I have trouble really longing to be with someone if they can’t stand the site of me. I think most people do. This makes unrequited love a lot less likely.
Unrequited love is much more often, love lost. A situation where one party has lost their desire for the other, while the other still has strong feelings. This gets yucky very quickly. Most people on the receiving end of this try to remedy the situation by dialing up the intensity of their love for the person. This is almost always a mistake and just serves to push the person further away.
If you love them, set them free…
You are already on your way to doing this if you understand the previous points and accept them. Accepting that you cannot control another person’s emotions and not aiming to is the first step to freedom. That frees you from the expectation that you should be doing something about it. Then understanding that a person can only belong to you by longing to be with you should let you easily accept my next point.
If a person does not long to be with you, they do not belong to you. If they do not belong to you, they are free to do whatever they want.
How can you know if they long to be with you?
Set them free.
Suppose you have a pet bird that you really love that you keep in a big cage in your living room. Now imagine that one day you accidentally left the cage open and the bird flew out a window, never to be seen again. This would hurt you. You lost a bird.
But did you really lose it? Was the bird anything more than a slave? You kept it locked up in your house and fed it, in return it would entertain you sometimes. That bird didn’t evolve to be locked up in a cage all day. It evolved to be free, soaring through the air. Your need to be entertained prevented the bird from living to it’s full potential.
Now imagine that same scenario except that the bird comes back. The first time this happens you’ll think, “great I got my bird back.”
The second time that it leaves and comes back again you’ll start to realize the bird actually wants to be there. You’ll start to feel happy.
After the third time you won’t even need to close the door on the cage. The bird will be able to live happy and free as it was meant to and you’ll sleep soundly knowing that the bird is with you because it longs to be.
Now substitute boy/girl for bird and you’ve arrived!
You will never know if someone really longs to be with you until you give them the freedom to not be with you.
By definition, you cannot lose something that you never had.
If you’re in a relationship that isn’t fulfilling you, give your partner the freedom to go. If you’re not in a serious relationship, start your next potential one on these grounds and avoid a lot of pain moving forward.
Love is an open door
One last sentence to tell your partner after setting them free will give you the final piece for this installment.
“My door is always open.”
You see, it’s not really setting them free if you just say, “You can leave if you want to.” That isn’t really freedom and isn’t anything new. Of course they can leave if they want to.
What you’re really saying to them is, “if I’m not good enough for you, you can go find something else but you will be giving up what we have.”
That’s imposing a huge cost on their freedom. It offers them to buy their way out of slavery by giving up on a lot of things that are very important to them.
When you remove that, you can just say, “You’re free to do whatever you choose. I love you. My door will always be open to you.”
That’s love, mother fucker!
Understand that, “whatever you choose” MUST MEAN whatever the hell they choose. You can’t offer this half way. It can’t be, “you can do whatever you choose unless it’s something that i later decide I’m not comfortable with.” That means if your partner says, “I’d like to invite other people to bed and have sex with them,” you need to understand and accept their desire. If that is what would make them most happy, and you actually love them, that should be what you want for them.
Love Wasn’t Ever Easy
That last point was probably scary. Especially if you have a partner that you love and are in an exclusive relationship with. This would be a very hard conversation to have. Especially if, for years, you’ve been living under a different set of rules. That’s OK. Understand that giving someone this freedom does not mean that they are going to abandon you to go live it, or maybe they will.
If leaving you is what makes them happy and you love them, you must let them. But consider the following:
If you are the type of person who loves this individual unconditionally and you prove it and you accept them no matter what they want/need without any judgments and you can be relied upon to continue doing that and they know you will always leave your door open for them…
WHY WOULD THEY EVER WANT TO LEAVE YOU?