Without a doubt, this is a topic right up my street … Jenny-Lee Heylen, another word wrangler (a.k.a. author, this is her website) like myself, shared this article by Carsie Blanton on Facebook, and it shook my blog apathy right to the core. I’ve been away from these pages for a while, for different reasons—too boring to discuss really.
Carsie Blanton, the author of the article that galvanised me into blog post writing again, calls herself a ‘love-fiend’ and yet she’s married. I’m in a relationship myself and I can kind of identify with what she says, but the difference between me and Carsie is that I’d never talk about love in these cases. What happened to words such as crush, for example? Or expressions such as getting the hots for someone? Call me old-fashioned, but I still feel like The Bard about these things:
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
Sonnet 116 never fails to make me shed a tear or two, which is kind of inconvenient really, because I’ve got a class to teach in an hour or so. But make no mistake: this sonnet represents the way I feel about love. Years ago I discussed it with my daughter after we watched Sense and Sensibility. I believe that if Jane Austen had lived in the twenty-first century, she would have had a slightly different take on love. Let me explain.
“Romantic” love, a.k.a. having the hots for someone, could (and notice I say could) be the beginning of something wonderful. Or not. Oh well, relationships can be hard …
Let’s say there are different ways of feeling tingly, itchy and fluttery about someone else, ranging from the unspeakable urge to have a frolic with them in a garden shed (cue my soon-to-be published Bedroom Short Stories for Discerning Adults) to romantic dinners, walks in the park, strolls on the beach, and the like. You get my drift.
“Love” is a different beast altogether: it involves developing a relationship, making oneself really vulnerable and learning a lot in the process. And what we learn about ourselves may not be nice. We kind of do relationships “by default”, based upon the parenting template we had in our infancy, childhood and adolescence. Some of us repeat the parental model; some others create a new model based on it, or against it, or even in spite of it. We do what we can, and our experience of love is built upon that.
“Love” is weird: there are so many different critters that fall under the umbrella of love, and having crushes, or lusting after someone, or being obsessed, have qualified for a space in literary classics, and that’s part of their timelessness. In real life, we can also find this. Is it a case of “nature” imitating art, or is about something much deeper?
In my own personal experience, there’s the added tapestry brought in by bipolar disorder. In my adolescence, I was too intense to be around for those poor guys that decided to come just a bit close to me, but the adults around me would just sigh and say, ‘She’s going through a phase.’
Phase my foot … If twenty years or so can be rated as a “phase” …
The intensity that I experienced in my dealings with the opposite sex would go into a crescendo that still astonishes me. After all, I was a nerd, the sort of person who loved intellectual pursuits and who prided herself in having completed her higher education when my daughter was two-and-a-half years of age. After my first divorce at the age of twenty-five, there were plenty of uncertainties in my life, and very few certainties. Working full-time and raising a daughter wasn’t easy. But it was a lot less easy for me to understand why, between March-August (roughly the autumn and winter months in Argentina) I felt elated and “in love” most of the time. As soon as the spring was in the air, and the temperature and humidity shot up, I would come crashing down, and perceived myself as less attractive, less interesting, less “with it”… In short, I’d become less lovable.
Of course all those perceptions were fuelled by my neurotransmitters. “Being in love” or “falling in love” would inevitably precipitate what is known as hypomania, or a mild high state. I grew to associate depression with the opposite, and it would take me a long time, therapy and the proper treatment to put that into place and to start feeling comfortable within myself.
Now, going back to the “stir” that we feel when someone attractive rocks our world, how about calling a spade a spade? Why is it demeaning to say the truth, such as,
- ‘You turn me on, baby.’
- ‘I WANT you.’
- ‘I LIKE you a lot.’
- ‘You do it for me, gorgeous.’
What’s the point of saying ‘I love you’ when there’s great hormonal exhilaration, but no real relationship development? A good friend of mine talks about ‘falling in lust’ instead of falling in love. She’s so right on that one! I’m not saying that after a one-night stand we won’t feel a lot more than just a stir in the loins, but calling that “love” is a bridge too far.
Lust is good stuff. It makes you feel alive. If you get on well with the object of your lust, you may end up in a relationship and feeling deep love for them, and that’s wonderful. A relationship that starts with high sexual voltage has got only one downside: in the height of passion, we see the object of our desire in the way we want to see them. Perceptions become distorted and one day we wake up to “reality”—whatever that may mean. In some cases we realise we don’t want that person anymore, or we may discover that our connection has deepened and that even though the other isn’t as wonderful as we imagined them to be, they’re more than good enough and we want more. To be more precise, we want a committed relationship.
Ah! The cat is out of the bag now 🙂
This blog post isn’t about what makes or breaks a relationship, or about the nature of commitment. It’s about separating the wheat from the chaff. ‘Yeah, yeah …’ I can hear you say. ‘What’s wrong with calling it love instead of lust? What a picky boring bitch you are, FF Jensen!’ Yeah, maybe, but as much as this isn’t an attempt to define what love is, what I’m saying is that there’s nothing wrong with feeling sexually stirred up and calling that by name. We’d be honouring the feelings and the sensations that eroticism brings into our lives. We’d be acknowledging a very important part of the human experience that religion and the powers that be have frowned upon.
Yeah, that’s why I write erotica. It’s a lot more than naughty bits getting together. It’s about acknowledging life, an act of open defiance, and in a world that publishes everything on social media, it’s a way of keeping a private space, only to be shared with another (or others if you’re polyamorous or do group sex).
Get horny. Get happy. Catcha later, FFJ 🙂