Why is love the defining line?
Now that I’ve come out of my hermitage once again, I have so many thoughts to share with you!
I was thinking about love in the shower (no, no, not like that) and I came to an interesting conclusion. I was thinking about what the function of “I love you” is in a relationship, particularly when said for the first time. When I was dating my college boyfriend, he said those three words after about six months. We hadn’t been friends first – we met, we started dating, and we’d been cruising along for a while when he dropped the bomb. I said “I love you, too” instinctively, but later in the comfort of my dorm room I started freaking out with my roommate. Do I love him? Do I, do I? The next morning I decided that I did, but it was something of a foregone conclusion.
So what does love mean in such a context? A lot of things, but two major ones come to mine. (1) The people involved have come to a certain level of intimacy and affection. (2) It’s a signal of commitment, possibly monogamy, that you’re in it for the long haul (or feel that way at the moment). The reason it has to serve that double function is the assumption that you didn’t start out intimate or affectionate. Mark and I were not friends in advance, and I never would’ve come to love him on that basis – we just aren’t that compatible. This is why I really like my current approach, i.e., I don’t have sex with anyone I don’t consider a close friend. The fact is, I already love my close friends. We’ve reached that level of intimacy and affection and I already trust them. I know that I like that individual as a person before we move into relationship (or just sexual friendship) territory. “I love you” isn’t some huge revelation. I already did! We love each other, yes, and I don’t mind communicating it, but it doesn’t have to serve function (2). It’s not some big bomb-dropping. I think it’s best not to conflate love and commitment or love and long-term relationships because there are so many forms of love. I could name about twenty people that I truly love, and none of them am I in a relationship with. I like being a bit more practical about it. If I feel that I want to be long-term with someone, then we can talk about it. It doesn’t have to be code words that confuse everyone and require long conversations with a third party. Communication, it’s what’s for dinner.
Off to the Iowa City Women’s Music Festival: Like Michigan, but with Shirts!
(shouldn’t that be their motto? seriously?)