Love…such a little word to be so emotionally loaded. And loaded it is. We require those four letters to carry such meaning and so many meanings that it’s a wonder they survive. The Greeks had more than one word for love: philos, for brotherly love, agape for God’s love (or spiritual love), eros for sexual love and so forth. We speak of the love of a child by its parent, or the love one can feel for all humankind. We “love” a type of food, or “love” a particular color. We have love, make love, feel love, are loved, share love, and try to love.
Every parent has faced the situation where their child has done something wrong, and to avoid punishment will stare up at the parent with those big, sad, puppy dog eyes, and say, “But I love you, Mommy (Daddy)!” If we have not personally experienced it, we know of someone who was seduced into an action by either the promise of love upon completion of the action, or the threat of love’s removal for failure to do so. (A prime example of this is what is too often a common form of foreplay: “If you love me, you’ll let me”.) Love sells cars, books, movies and anything else we can think of. Love has been used as a murder defense, an excuse for stalking the object of one’s desire, and as a reason to make war.
We cannot deny that it is a major, driving force, impetus for most of our actions, and such a basic part of everything we do that you’d think we would understand it better than we do. We have tried to define it, and failed. We have tried to quantify it, and again, failed.
Acknowledging all of this but wanting to understand what I personally believe about love, I would offer these thoughts:
- Love, real and abiding love, wants what is best for the person who is the object of that love. And that means whatever is truly best, even if it doesn’t include the person who loves. Love seeks to help the loved one find happiness.
- Love is not like a pail of water, with each of us having a specific amount that we have to meter out to those around us. Love is like the Universe, ever-expanding, ever-growing. The more we give away, the more we have. And loving this person doesn’t mean that we cannot also love that person, and that person, and that person—and love them all equally.
- The physical expression of love for one person does not mean limits and an adjacent inability to express love for others—or in plain talk, love is not about who is in bed with you but who is in your life. Just because you are having sex with someone does not necessarily mean that you love each other—and it can mean that you might love someone other than whoever is in bed with you.
- Adultery is not about the act of sex; it’s about lies and the loss of trust and intimacy within a relationship. If you trust each other and are willing to allow sexual contact outside of your relationship, there is no adultery.
- While I know that many people have a problem with polyamory (many loves), as long as everyone involved agrees, there is no wrong being done. Sex is not a sin, it is not wrong. Sex is a basic human need, and to subvert it, and to deny your own desires is to set yourself up for major trouble down the road. It’s not the having sex that creates issues, it’s the lies that are told about it—even to one’s self. I am not, and have never been, monogamous. I do not believe that having sex with one person removes from the ability to have sex with someone else. It does not lessen me, or use up some preset amount of “times to have sex”. And if sex is shared with loving, then it’s marvelous—but again, not necessarily limited to only one person at a time, or to only one person for all time.
- It is also possible to have a loving relationship with one person and a sexual relationship with another. Love relationships are about whom you choose to spend your time with, not who is in your bed. Most of the time, it is the same person but it can be more than one person. Again, as long as everyone in the situation is aware of how things are working and agree to those conditions, there shouldn’t be a problem. It does require an openness and honesty that may be hard to maintain. Communication is essential in such an arrangement. Once the parameters are established and each person within the arrangement understands and approves of it, then having multiple lovers can be wonderful. Sharing love, sharing loving sexual contact, enriches us. There is no limit, there are no portions to be handed out grudgingly but rather, it is an endless cycle of love and loving. I am not talking about sex with a personal agenda, or a lack of concern for the others involved. I am not talking about double standards and having one set of rules for you and another set for me—or one for the guys and one for the gals. There is no room in this situation for that kind of stupidity. I think that this is a dynamic arrangement, one that will change over time. I also think that it might even look like a monogamous, long-term relationship most of the time—and just as possible that it will look like a group of swingers to those outside of the group. I also think that people who do not understand it, or who have religious views that prohibit sexual contact outside of Church-sanctioned marriage will be judgmental. My answer to that is simply this: it is none of their business. Those who don’t understand but who want to can be educated. Those who refuse to understand or want to condemn it out of religious beliefs should be ignored. Love is not wrong. Loving someone is not wrong. Loving more than one person at a time is not only possible, it happens all the time. We usually are referring to loving our parents, our children, our spouse or significant others, our families and our friends—but we love them all, and we do it simultaneously. Loving more than one person in what can be a sexual relationship as well is certainly possible and it is not wrong–as long as everyone agrees to it and no one is hurt by it.
- Having a sexual relationship is not wrong, even if there is no love involved. Having a sexual relationship outside of your love relationship is not wrong if everyone knows and agrees—once again, it only becomes wrong when trust and intimacy are lost, and someone is hurt by your actions. Of course, the rule for any sexual activity is safe, sane and consensual!
- Pure and true love for another person, or for several other persons, is a noble and magnificent thing which grows as it is shared, returning to you a hundredfold, so that you can then turn around and share it with more people.
Copyright © 2004 Kathleen S Granville