This morning I found myself in conversation with an old flame of mine, a man whom I have loved for nearly 30 years. He was my first love – and I his. We taught one another everything we know about affection, adoration and heartbreak; and those lessons endure until today.
I have maintained loving relationships with all of my exes, save one. My husband has accepted that reality with as much grace as can be expected of any man and for that I’m grateful. The constraints and expectations of Abrahamic-styled monogamy cannot make this easy for a man who adheres strongly to those norms to contend with. Yet here we are.
I confessed to Q that I had told my husband that I was not in love with him (something I will probably write about in a longer post at a future date). This alarmed Q, because he knows how deeply my husband loves me. He objected, saying, “You never stop loving anyone. I think you get tired of them and their shit…but you never stop loving them. Once you love someone, you love them forever.”
I pondered over that for a while, and then I came to the conclusion that Q was wrong. If it had not been for one man in my life, I might have conceded his point and even agreed with him. Unfortunately or not, I have had occasion to be completely devoted and in love with a person, only to find myself uncaring whether they drew breath the next morning or not. That person is the father of my first born child.
Love – as we have been taught – is a verb. It’s an action. It’s a choice. Being in love with someone in my estimation, however, is completely involuntary. It’s those butterflies you get when you see their number pop up on your caller ID. It’s the sound of their voice that invades your thoughts when you really need to concentrate on your work. The sensation of being in love is utterly impractical, whereas love is far more pragmatic. Love, independently, requires more thought and effort. Love is inertia, whereas the state of being in love is a free radical. It tends to break shit.
If you can imagine the worse cliches that a baby daddy is capable of, mine has done them all. There’s no need to rehash them here in order to prove the point. The point is, this is a man who has inspired something in me that I never considered possible where any of my exes were concerned: that being utter nonchalance towards his well-being. That’s not completely true. I do want him to stay well enough to fulfill his child support obligations until our kid turns 18…but outside of that? KMT. Yet this is someone I gave everything to at one point. And I mean everything. How could I no longer hold any space for love in my heart for him?
I haven’t formulated an answer for that. I don’t think it even matters, given the dynamics of our ascorbic relationship. For me, the more fascinating concept is what Q proposed: that you never stop loving someone if you have loved them once. The idea that love is permanent and marks its object forever.
What do you think?
1 comments On Love them once, love them always?
I tend to agree with you, love can leave you, especially being ‘in love’, which for me is so uncontrollable and all consuming. I’ve been in love with 2 men in my life and recently released my husband isn’t one of those men. I’m not in love with either of them now. I think people mistake fuzzy nostalgia with some kind of residual love. I don’t know either of those men now, how can I possibly love them still, it’s like being in love with a ghost.
Loving someone is more deliberate, so with much pain, you can switch it off. And I love my husband deeply, whilst not being in love with him. The idea of ever losing him is so so painful but doesn’t feel anything like when those earlier 2 relationships showed signs of going down the toilet.
Although 10 years ago, I wouldn’t have experienced these different types of emotion enough to articulate the response I have today.