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Love is …?

love trap

Love is what happens to a man and woman who don’t know each other.
— W. Somerset Maugham

Your skin starts
itchin’ once you buy the gimmick
’bout somethin’ called love
Oh love love love
That’s just hypnotizin’ chickens.
– Iggy Pop (Lust for Life)

I’ve always been pretty down on love.

Maybe it comes from being aspie. Maybe I don’t experience it like other people do, though it sure seems to hurt as much as everyone says it should. Maybe because I can’t read other people emotionally very well I always feel insecure in love. But you’re supposed to feel that, aren’t you?

Could it have been my upbringing? There was never much love demonstrated in my family household. I was always afraid my Mum would abandon me – and she did. I was always scared my Dad would reject me – and he did. It wasn’t until I was eight or nine when my folks adopted my little sister that I got the idea love might actually be nice. But terrifying. What if something happened to her?

Perhaps it’s the fact love is so horrible that put me off.

I mean it’s a kind of madness really, isn’t it? It’s been recognised as a major cause of teen suicide since at least Shakespeare’s day. It’s strongly associated with violence and murder – far more so than psychotic illness. It destroys families, turns friends against each other, makes you behave like a complete idiot, inspires some truly awful poetry and pop songs … How come you can be forced to take dangerous neuroleptic drugs because ‘you may be a danger to yourself or others’ but the drug companies aren’t even working on a cure for love? Love kills, for chrissake!

And it’s so manipulative. People betray their country for love. They give away their life savings to con-artists. They purchase impractical sports cars and shoes that ruin their feet in the hope it will bring them love. If they think they’ve found love they’ll even buy trashy greeting cards, overpriced flowers and enough chocolate to turn the object of their devotion into a nauseated, overweight, caries and pimple-ridden mess. Or they’ll support some war in Africa by purchasing a band of metal with a blood diamond stuck in it. Money can’t buy you love but you sure can go through a lot of cash looking for it or trying to hang onto it.

I’ve even had people try to convince me I’m worthy of love. Can you believe it? Me! What did I ever do to deserve that? I trust those who have tried to lay that particular curse on me will live in interesting times.Love razor

It’s not as if I believe in love anyway. That’s pretty consistent for me. I don’t believe in any mental illnesses. But love in particular is such an obvious fake.

You can see why that sort of self-delusion evolved. Unfortunately we’re not just lizards or fish who can simply drop a clutch of eggs somewhere and wander off and forget them, secure in the knowledge our offspring will either look after themselves or get eaten. Then just drop another dozen or hundred or so eggs next season. Human babies are helpless, useless little things that take years of care and effort to get to the point where they can start feeding themselves. Even then they’ll probably be back to sleep in the spare room and scrounge from your fridge when the boss gives them the boot. Or when their partner kicks them out. Love’s like that.

It’s not as if love bears serious scrutiny. The idea that some hormone driven feeling designed to keep you together long enough to hand down your genes will make you content and happy for the rest of your life is pretty optimistic. Do you see it working that way for anyone else?

If it does work out like that, then what happens? One of the lovers dies, probably wracked with guilt because they are leaving their partner bereft, heartbroken and abandoned. Of course there’s always the hope you’ll both go out together. Like Romeo and Juliet, Adolph and Eva, Bonny and Clyde. Now there’s some happy endings for you.

How about the notion you can even know someone well enough to devote yourself utterly to them? Keep a complete model of another human being inside your head when all your neurons are already flat out just trying to be you. Kind of conceited isn’t it? You can know someone else when you don’t even know yourself? You’d have to think your beloved was pretty damned simple to believe you could do that.

So what is romantic love anyway?

You build a simplistic cartoon of someone in your head made up of the tiny fraction of their attributes you’ve even noticed held together with a whole load of your own hopes, wishes and preconceptions. Then you fall in love with it. It’s not even someone else. It’s part of your own headspace. You’ve fallen in love with a piece of yourself. You might as well swear undying devotion to your left hand. Don’t buy it a diamond ring though. It can get painful.

So basically love is a load of self deluded narcissism evolution has dumped on us for the sole reason of keeping a set of genes going long after we’ve destroyed our bodies in the quest for love. We’re stupid enough to believe in it only because we’re descended from a very long line of similarly misbegotten morons.

But what if it’s not? What if there really is a healthy, realistic form of love which doesn’t bring possessiveness, jealousy, insecurity and heartbreak into the relationship with it? What if the love we think we feel for individuals, places, objects, abstract notions etc was actually felt towards something immanent in those things rather than the things themselves or our half-baked understandings of them? What if there is something present in everything in the universe that is not only worthy of love but is the fundamental principle of the beloved itself? What if the bhaktis are right?

Falling in love wouldn’t be about scouring the planet for your one true soul-mate but rather allowing yourself to feel the unmediated love that is your natural orientation towards everything there is. There would be no question of the negative feelings that come with the knowledge that the beloved may die or leave you because everything is the beloved. The beloved is always with you.

Reciprocation you say? Wouldn’t it be kinda pathetic to live your entire life in a state of unrequited love for the universe?

Unrequited my foot! You exist despite all odds. The universe brought you into existence with every cause and effect from the Big Bang up to you reading these lines (I make no guarantees regarding what may happen after you stop reading this blog however). There is a hole in space-time, cause-effect and phenomenological reality in general and you fit it perfectly. You are completely and intimately embraced by everything else there is for every instant of your existence. How many other lovers have you had who are so accepting, attentive and completely devoted?

It’s all a load of romantic nonsense of course. Just like everything else ever written about love.

But if you’re going to spend your life chasing mirages isn’t it better to go after the ones that don’t lead you into the trackless wastelands of despair?

  1. I was in a discussion with some socon who was lamenting that fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce. I turned to her and said, “hey, they other fifty percent end in DEATH, so you could be one of the lucky ones!”

    I actually DID scour the planet looking for my loved one, and moved hemispheres to be with him.

    I’m one of the cheaters who takes all the good benefits of love without the childbearing and rearing. Not our thing. You’d be astonished at how many people think it is their business to speculate on the causes of our childlessness, not realizing what an incredibly intrusive topic it is.

    Someday I’ll call their bluff. I’ll say, “Yeah, we fuck like bunnies, so you’d think something would have popped by now, right?” Put the busybodies in their place.
    Probably not going to happen. 😉


    • Yeah, I get lots of people speculating about my childlessness too – usually with a strong subtext suggesting I’m gay.

      I typically respond that I have no idea whether I’m actually childless but if some woman shows up with a kid less than 28 years old and proves it’s mine I’ll be suing the doctor who gave me a vasectomy aged 23.


      • Did you ever see Popehat’s post on the unbelievably insensitive things people say to parents of adopted children? Someday I’ll start a similar list of snarky remarks about my lack of children.

        You must have been very convincing to get a doctor to vas you at such a young age. I didn’t think that was done.


        • You must have been very convincing to get a doctor to vas you at such a young age. I didn’t think that was done.

          It took about four years of solidly hassling my GP culminating in a threat that I would get it done in India if I couldn’t get it done here.


  2. After experiencing an ego-less relationship, I don’t think I can go back to an ego driven relationship. I can’t begin to describe how incredibly dysfunctional the ego can be in creating sticky drama in relationships.


  3. For a lot of people, as regards couples, I think “love”, on a practical level, is a kind of friendship that involves intimacy, sex, sharing, and taking care of one another. That seems pretty healthy to me.


  4. Rex permalink

    Limitedness of love is shown through human love, limitlessness of love is through divine love. We cannot understand and fully experience one without the other, in spite of one’s deformity and one’s beauty.


  5. Anonymous permalink

    We bhaktis ARE right, of course. Better get going, cupcake!


  6. Love is nothing but a sweet feeling you feel for some people like your parents and children , On one hand and It is so Intense that It could make a person Mad in the eyes of the same persons, On the other hand. No one could define it, It has a different definition for everyone. The thing is, The one who felt it, feels no urge to chase Mirages.


  7. least one book describes 5 types of love as needing affirmation…quality time..receiving gifts…acts of service..and physical touch…

    But..your description of the higher love is spot on as far as I am concerned…

    It is real..and the loveliest love of all..

    CallIt the 6th love I guess..if one wills…

    Our marriage counselor identifies IT as such…that is my wife and I..not you and me..heHE….

    Yea that’s pretty dry humor..hUH/?

    Anyway…the sixth type of the type of love that radiates from an individual 24hours a day..IT can never be hidden as IT is truly LIGHT…

    IT is unmistakable..if one wills..

    And never feels hate or personal judgement towards others..or that radiant light of the 6th type of LOVE will dim..and potentially even go out foreverNOW…


  8. Nadia permalink

    what’s wrong with all of you?!
    honestly I think that this “being realistic” thing that is getting more and more trendy has to stop!!
    our society is teaching us day by day that all this bad things like cheating, betrayal, insecurity and all this is something normal and is taking away all the beauty.

    I’m not naive and I know the world is not perfect, but honestly that this stupid world will make me fall into deep depression that there is nothing good left!!! I will not accept that, you start from your self.
    it’s what the world wants us to become, they actually wants us to think that everything is soooo bad and nothing good left so we would be grateful if someone is only partly bad, like ” he only lies” ” he only cheated ones on his wife but it was nothing serious”…

    yes I agree that the thing that people call love is not really love, or let’s say has no potential to last!
    but the reason is not the feeling” love”: it self … and for Gods sake why would someone vas him self ? I know that it’s your choice to make and you are probably convinced of it, but it’s sooo sad, I don’t know why but I feel very sad… you probably don’t want me to feel sorry for you but if everything went so wrong why you don’t try to be a better example why don’t you set children into this world and raise them to be how you think it’s supposed to be?…this all is just so sad, I wish I didn’t read this or the comments.


  9. Perceptions of love differ from person to person:)
    Good work..
    Keep blogging:)


  10. Pull My Finger permalink

    Isn’t “love” falling in love with that cute sophomore who will contract a
    terminal illness so you can be the Suffering Hero and get lots of
    poon-tang as a widower?

    Onward Christ-consciousness martyrs….

    Thomas Merton….Father Lou… in leukemia. I wonder if he has
    reincarnated and is subbing as a sparkie with Grollo Constructions?

    Don’t mind me, I’m under the influence of “Lost” by Coldplay….getting
    my shine off.

    I could be a dakini or Daktari. I get discombobulated.


    • I had my own Merton moment a few years ago with an electrified shower head. Does wonders for your hair-do.

      I could be a dakini or Daktari. I get discombobulated.

      It’s easy enough to tell the difference.
      Is your lion cross-eyed?


  11. Gracie Smoke permalink

    Damn Cabrogal, you have this incredible ability to channel my jumbled private theories into a perfectly formed torrent of words. I agree, love as we know it is one big emotional wank-fest. Good old oxytocin, how dull life would be without it. Though I suppose without it there would be no life.


  12. How on earth did I miss this post, cabrogal? It is fantastic.


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