Monday 23 June 2008

In Answer To Heart of Darkness

Heart and myself had a kind of debate the other day, and since she thought it worthy of writing a post on, I though I'd expand on it.

To be honest, I find myself in broad agreement with much of what she writes, there are only really a few small areas I disagree on.

But this is ultimately because I believe ANY form of love must serve a CONstructive, not a DEstructive purpose.
It cannot be treated in isolation, but only terms of whether it actually achieves anything.

Someone else said something to me recently, which resonated, in fact it's something I've kind of been grasping at for a while, but they said so much better.
'You can love, or be in love, but not always both at the same time.'

And this, of course, is the problem. This is the deadly legacy of the institution of marriage.

Love, yes, love is a good thing. Love is about sacrifice, wanting what's best for the other person- and yes, Heart, feeling protective towards them. It asks for nothing in return.
But don't you feel that for a dog, Heart says?

YES! Not a stray dog, maybe, but YOUR OWN DOG. Fact is, dogs make it easy for us to love them. People try less hard. Dog knows if it gives unconditionally, it gets it back unconditionally. People don't seem to grasp that.

Except we do. We love our children that way- or some of us do. I love my mates that way- and I don't mind saying it, I love them. Of course I do. The close ones. I feel protective towards them, I sacrifice time and money for them and I treat huge areas of my life as essentially, matters that THEY TOO have a right to have a say in. Because of how our lives intertwine.
If I planned on moving, I'd consult them.
If I was thinking of applying for a new job, I'd get all of them to read the terms and contracts.
If I was seeing someone seriously in a romantic context, I'd run her by ALL my close friends, all of them essentially possessing veto powers.

Because what I do with my life affects them. After the years we have spent together, our paths through life will march together to the grave. Anything new in my life, is something new in theirs, and ultimately, I will not do anything with my life, that doesn't meet their approval.
They mean that much to me.

Now of course, the ideal that I THINK Heart is talking about, the TRUE ideal, is a friend of that closeness and quality, with all the rest thrown in. The platonic friendship, plus the intimacy.


Thing is, for a few thousand years we've botched the whole thing. Why?

Infatuation. Fact is, we've got these daft hormones running round and they fool us.

It's this whole idea of 'chemistry'.
Fact is, a man and woman can collide and some 'chemistry' is set off. They think they're soulmates. Think that fate drove them together.
Crap. Yes, you might click immediately. But do you at this point know how?

Because True Love, is platonic at its root. Its based purely on a connection of the mind. Quite obviously, it's much more than that, but WITHOUT the platonic root, it remains, it stays, just an infatuation.
And infatuations wear off. They wear off once the soil washes away, and with no platonic roots beneath, they collapse and die.

Thing is, you can't always tell at the start. The hormones are busy talking. They'll keep talking for a few months or so, by which time, in nature, they've assured successful copulation and the passing on of genes. And then they've served their purpose.

Now this is the reality of why most relationships tend to last that period. It's also the reality round the sheer misery of most working class marriages of the past few hundred years.

Boy meets girl. Boy has tumble with girl in the hayrick. Everybody knows. Boy feels compelled to marry girl. Boy and girl have babies. Boy and girl discover after the novelty of copious amounts of sex has worn off, they have nothing in common.

But are we to blame? No, our genes FOOL us. They WANT the successful copulation. So they just override our logic. They weren't to know that humans would invent marriage for life and tie people into it before they'd discovered if it was lust and infatuation, rather than a genuine platonic unity that they felt.

Quite often these infatuations turn into something nasty- they can't actually stand eachother, but feel they own eachother, so won't let go of the other.

That of course, is the proof it isn't love.
If you truly loved the person you say you love, yes it would hurt if they suddenly turned round and said they loved someone else.

But you'd LET them. That old piece of wisdom 'Do you love them enough to let them go?'

You see my view is, if you TRULY love someone, you strive to be a positive part of their lives in whatever way is best for the other. Without conditions.

Perhaps the true proof of love, is when it is taken away. Do you hate them, or would you rather stay friends, because that keeps you in their lives, in a good way, to still care for and protect them?
Would you still love them for life, even though they've chosen someone else?

Love is a gift, and a gift confers no rights on the giver.

That's love, I think.

True Love is capable of objectivity, it is the ULTIMATE objectivity.
Infatuation is purely subjective.

It's kind of been a dominating thought of mine since last October, when various events happened to effectively force me to decide what my position on all this ACTUALLY is.
And put bluntly it's this.
Were I to collide with someone I DID fall in love with, even if I was pretty certain she felt the same, the chances are, I'd reject it.

There you go.

Wouldn't stop me loving them, just I'd be BETTER able to do that as a friend, than as a lover.
Fact is, accepting their love and making a commitment, is almost certainly a recipe for disaster. Love isn't enough in itself, not to force two people into a situation which would satisfy neither. Which is what it would be.

If I truly loved someone, why would I try to sell them such a shoddy deal? I work, I blog, I go out with my mates. Don't REALLY see much room in there for anything else. That pretty much fills the schedule. Hell, I've not seen my own grandmother for months and she only lives ten minutes away. And that looks like how it'll be for the foreseeable. Quick flings are feasible, but if I really care for someone, I try steer them away from me, in that sense. It couldn't do either me or them any good.

A few weeks ago I was out for a drink with Dizzy, and I admit I'd had a few and was getting all emotional. Because the funny thing is, I do KIND of love Dizzy. And I think she kind of gets it. We flirt at work, but it's only play flirting. As she once said and I smiled in acknowledgement 'If I ever turned round and said 'Yes xxx, come on, let's do it!', you'd run a mile, wouldn't you?'.
Yes, is the honest answer. I like to stroke her hair, I like to hold her hand, sometimes I even want to kiss her, but the idea of having sex with her just seems so WRONG, even the idea would appall me. It would feel like incest. She's a mate. I just want to protect her.

And yet...
Here I was, after eight pints, my hands in hers, tears in my eyes telling her 'If ANYONE. EVER. Hurt you. I'd hunt them down. You know that don't you? Dizzy, if anyone ever hurt you, you mean so much to me. You're good to me, that means a lot. I just want you to know I care, I mean, not like that, but I care, right? I never want anything from you, except for you to know that.'

That's how I feel about her.

I guess if a woman doesn't inspire a certain sense of protective instinct in me, I find her hard to even LIKE, let alone LOVE.

If her man hit her, I'd intervene. If our boss shouted at her, I'd intervene. But I'd never presume to desire her for myself.

And in point of fact, she's not the only woman I feel that about.

I've always looked back on the moment I lost all respect for Claire. You could say, it was the moment that whatever I thought was love for her, just died.

I came home an hour late- I'd been for a drink with work colleagues. We were supposed to be going for a meal. The fact was, the place we were going still served for another hour at least, but Claire wanted to use it as an excuse to bicker. No, she wasn't going out now. Too late. Eight Thirty is too late to go to the Wetherspoons which serves food till ten.
So I just left her to it. I went to the pub.

I was chatting to Erica the cute Lithuanian barmaid. About Claire, obviously. Not in an especially deragotory way, just trying to make some sense of her more illogical mood swings. Erica's opinion was that Claire was way too possessive 'She hastes me, you know? When I come over, she looks death at me if I even come near you. She thinks I'm going to take you away.'
I nodded in agreement, because Claire thought that about all women, one of the features I most dosliked about her.
Anyway, in storms Claire. 'Well? are we going now?'
I looked up 'You should have been reasonable back at half eight. They HAVE stopped serving now. Do you want a drink?'
'NO! I'm not staying here!' She glared at poor Erica.
I shrugged 'Well, I've got a fresh pint.'

Off storms Claire.

Erica leaned forward 'See? See what I mean? You shouldn't let her speak to you that way, she has no respect for you. You really should consider if you want to be with her forever!'

At this point, Claire suddenly reappeared, as if from nowhere. She grabbed me by the arm and said 'WE ARE GOING NOW!'

And poured my pint over Erica 'And that's for you, you cheap foreign tart!'

And as she dragged me out of that pub, all I wanted to do was run back in and comfort Erica.
Claire lost every tender sentiment I had towards her in that instant.
And she never got it back. She couldn't. Because in that instant, Claire DIDN'T need protecting, another woman did. And the whole reason I stayed with Claire so long, was a gut feeling she needed protecting- that without me to calm her down, she'd just have a nervous breakdown.

So to me, yes, a huge part of love is wanting to put someone under your protection.

So in answer to Heart's post, my view is this.
If you love someone you always want what's best for them. That means protecting them, yes.
It means always acting in the way you think are their best interests.

It means that if you can see that their interests- plus those of the wider human community- are best served by you being their lover- then fine.
But if not, you'll instead make sure you are their true and loyal friend for life.

And I'll finish with the clip Heart did :)


Anonymous said...

i was puzzled by your spoke how you always do what is in the best interest, say what the other wants to hear...yet you do it in a passive aggressive manner, which leads me to believe (just from this writing) you didn't want it in the first place but were trying to fool yourself into it...i know i have found when i am in love with someone, i want them to accept me for who i am but not to cowtow to my every whim or belief...i don't want them to say what i want them to say...i want them to have the balls to say say babes, that really doesn't suit you...whatever the case...i want them to have their own ideas and opinions and to share them openly and honestly with me...thankfully i have been lucky enough to find that twice...

Anonymous said...

Luv ya... ;)

Anonymous said...

I typed a long comment here last night but got an error message when I tried to send it and lost the whole thing! Ugh.

I still think you haven't got it right yet, with your notions about love.

But I'm going to focus on the protect part of your notion, which you and others spout (must be a male thing)and Heart certainly did not agree with and nor do I.

I had to "protect" myself from the time I was 17 and since I did not marry until 25 I learned to do that very well. How do you imagine women get on when they are not in a relationship as so many are not for one reason or another or for some part of their lives?

If you love someone you always want what's best for them. That means protecting them, yes. It means always acting in the way you think are their best interests.

For me the idea of "protection" in this context means control, but all in your best interests my dear! I know you don't mean it that way, but it can be perceived that way. Limits are put on people when protecting them and we do that with children but remove them bit by bit as they are more able to have more independence.

The truth is in a relationship you may be called upon to "protect" each other at one time or another and both should always act in the best interests of each other.

Oh and if your lover isn't your best friend, your minds are not connected or in tune, then it may well be physical infatuation. I consider that a true essential of a lasting relationship.

Anonymous said...

Daisy- Since my first true love, almost all my relationships have followed the same pattern. Firstly, recognition that they are falling in love and preparedness to give them a shot.
Secondly, realisation that, no, you don't REALLY love them like that, but, due to THEIR love, you are naturally fond of them and feel duty bound to give it a go.
Thirdly, realisation that you just can't take any more of them.

You persist out of a sense of duty, the idea that at least THEY will be happy. Until it just becomes too much.

'you didn't want it in the first place but were trying to fool yourself into it...'

Yes, since I was nineteen, I think that has ALWAYS been true.

I think I've always subconsciously avoided the sort of people I WOULD actually genuinely fall for.

I think it's only in the past six months I've confronted that particular fear of mine.

Heart- Is that wise?
No, love you too! :)

jmb- I always copy long comments, in case they get lost when I press publish.

It's not quite what I mean the overall dynamics, and yes, it IS a gender difference.

I think women tend to get what they want more by appealing to our protective instincts. I suppose, at a deep level, its a kind of flattery.

I think we can sometimes feel 'If you don't need me to protect you, what DO you need me for?'

There has to be a certain element of willingness to give up your own interests for theirs, and unless they inspire a desire to protect, I'm not sure how the mechanics of that would work.

I agree with your penultimate paragraph.

If I'm honest?
Joanna was the only lover I've had I ever considered a friend in the sense I trusted her. In spite of the fact she certainly WASN'T faithful.

In several of the other cases, I'm not sure we would have even been friends, really.

Which makes your point all the more true.

Anonymous said...

hmm well i dunno where to start or where to end crushed, so I'll just say: the clip isnt working :D

Anonymous said...

Firstly, recognition that they are falling in love and preparedness to give them a shot.
Secondly, realisation that, no, you don't REALLY love them like that, but, due to THEIR love, you are naturally fond of them and feel duty bound to give it a go.
Thirdly, realisation that you just can't take any more of them.

I played this out with a woman who fell in love with me while I was in Australia in a relationship there, and she is still calling and leaving messages on my phone, that I ignore.

I still feel you're hiding behind a "belief" here Crushed, I've said that before, however I do find some of your points valid.
I don't believe in soulmates, I think that's a silly word really. You can find someone who is very compatiable, and believes the same way as you do for the most part, but to find in essence a twin, mmmm, nope.

...And infatuations wear off. They wear off once the soil washes away, and with no platonic roots beneath, they collapse and die.

It can happen the other way around as well. After almost 25 years of marriage, all that was left was a platonic relationship, and I was going to ask for a divorice had she not died of cancer...

Anonymous said...

I think I am with Heart on this one ;-)