Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Standing in Love

I thought this little bit was lovely... it's about the difference between "falling in love" and "standing in love." In some ways it's what we always have known, that the giddy feeling of falling in love must at some point give way to a different kind of love, blah blah blah. But what I liked best about it (besides that idea of "standing in love" with someone) was this:

When you fall in love, you want your partner to be faithful to you because if they are not it threatens your loneliness again. They might leave you, and leave you alone. This is possessiveness. So it is quite possible to find two people who are apparently in love with each other and who actually feel no love for anybody else. These are the kind of lovers who are completely annoying to be with. They are so involved with each other that they do not notice the rest of the world. They make you feel alone when you are with them. They think of love as luck and that their luck is in – and conversely, that everyone else’s luck is not.

There [sic] luck is not in, though, because their love is, in fact, what Fromm calls ‘an egoism together’; they are two people who identify themselves with each other, and who solve the problem of separateness by enlarging the single individual into two. It is in fact narcissism – they love themselves in each other; they see each other as Narcissus starred into the lake. They have the experience of overcoming aloneness, yet, they are separated from the rest of humankind – which is why you feel lonely or annoyed in their presence. In fact, they too remain separated from each other and alienated from themselves, though they daren’t admit it and so become even more absorbed in each other. Their experience of union is an illusion.

When you stand in love, though, you want your partner to be faithful to you but not because you cannot be alone but because it represents to you the faithfulness that must exist between all human beings who are to relate well to each other. In other words, it is not an exclusive possessiveness but an expression of an inclusive love for all humankind, potentially at least. Thus, the nicest people to know who are in love with each other are those who make you feel part of their love, whose love generates a welcoming home, brings out the best in you and so on. They have learnt the art of love with each other and it results in generating love that they have for others.

I have always tried to make the argument that best couples are those who are additive -- who you can spend time with in a group and who don't suck the energy out, but instead add to the room, add their own energy, which is from two people but not only for two people. This puts it a bit better than I've been able to -- additive is such an non-lovey word: turns out the kinds of couples I like, and the kind of couple I want to be a part of, are those who are "standing in love." This really comes back to the essential issue of balance in relationships that I've been struggling with for the past year -- the lameness of codependence and the sweet spot of independence yet coupleness that as far as I can tell is incredibly, incredibly hard to find. Worth looking for, though.


1 comment:

Elizabeth Baribeau said...

reminds me of the bell hooks book i mentioned to you awhile ago about love. one of my favorite parts from it is where she says: “to begin by always thinking of love as an action rather than a feeling is one way in which anyone using the word in this manner automatically assumes accountability and responsibility...If we were constantly remembering that love is as love does, we would not use the word in a manner that devalues and degrades its meaning. When we are loving we openly and honestly express care, affection, responsibility, respect, we openly and honestly express care, affection, responsibility, respect, commitment, and trust...definitions are vital starting points for the imagination. We need a map to guide us on our journey to love---starting with the place where we know what we mean when we speak of love."