Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Love. What is it? What does it mean?

Really, I think I have absolutely no idea.

You’ll note back in my “Final Cut” post, this is something I struggle with. I’m not sure I’ve ever loved anyone, exactly. Or that I can ever feel anyone really loves me.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve cared for a good number of people. I’ve had great friends who I adore and think are wonderful. I have family members who I share common bonds with and feel attached to. I’ve often felt a great deal of affection toward certain people. Many people have told and do tell me that they love me. I tell and have told people I love them.

And I guess on some level I do love them—to the extent I’m capable of loving. But for me, there always feels to be this---I don’t know what to call it—this cut-off point. The point at which if I begin to feel too strongly, it crosses over some line and I shut down; go numb. It’s not that I feel nothing, exactly, but that I can’t reach the end that I feel MUST be there to feel, though I have no evidence it is. Some final, my-cup-runneth-over sensation is just blocked off and inaccessible to me.

The best way I can get across what it feels like is to use a sexual metaphor. Imagine you can be stimulated, and it feels nice, and you can even feel the stimulation building to something, but you just can never, ever reach the orgasm. You can get really close--but then just at that key moment when you’re supposed to explode, you deflate instead. Over and over again—and no matter who you’re with, no matter what kind of a lover they are, you never, ever get to peak.

That’s what it feels like. I can’t orgasm on love. I can get close to people. I can enjoy the exchange. I can feel moved by them. But I can’t let myself go and love them without limit.

Most people I choose to love never seem to realize this. To keep the sexual metaphor going, maybe I’m making so much noise enjoying the sex, they don’t even realize I’m not orgasming. I go out of my way to make people feel fully loved—to make up for the small part that I think is dead inside me. Essentially, making the love experience SO good for them on their end that they can’t believe that I’m not orgasming. Or that it's so good and they are so overwhelmed with their own sensation that that they never even notice if I’m orgasming or not. Or if they do notice, that it’s so good for them that they don’t care if I am.

The problem is, at the same time this is going on, it hurts me deeply that no one notices or cares that I’m not orgasming while they are. I want to fucking orgasm. And I think, how can I really love this person if I'm incapable of coming for them? And, just like it is for people sexually, the fact that I'm hurt that they didn't notice only makes it more difficult for me to come. Once the person shows me what I believe is proof that he or she doesn't really notice or care all that much, it becomes even more difficult for me to ever trust them enough to let myself go to the extreme of giving all my love to them. Why? Fear, probably. Fear of what would happen to me if I did. Fear of having an orgasm and it meaning nothing to the other person. What could be worse? How empty, how foolish, to allow yourself to love someone fully who couldn't give a shit about you.

So I opt for no orgasm rather than having one that the person will then devalue, I guess.

But honestly, I don't know if this is a conscious choice, or it's just part of my makeup. I've never been any other way, that I can remember.

Sexually speaking, there are plenty of people who are non-orgasmic, and we’re told this is okay and that people can have fulfilling sex lives without orgasm being a part of it. Maybe. But, and apologies to the people out there who have not yet capable of having orgasms, but I’ve experienced partnered sex both without and with orgasms, and I’m gonna take with the orgasm every time, if I get a choice. I’d rather be alone and make myself orgasm than be with a partner who I could never orgasm with. I suppose I feel the same about love. I've been in a "non-orgasmic love" relationship more than once. It's just not enough for me. I feel lonely. I find flaws. I want more.

But I wonder if there are a lot of people out there who are non-orgasmic in love when it comes to romantic relationships. I suspect, based on some friends’ marriages and LTRs that I know of, that this is far more common a situation than the movies would have you believe. Could this be the rule more than the exception? Are most relationships only halfhearted (or seven-eighths-hearted, or whatever)? Is love just simply NOT like an orgasm at all, and my current state of not quite being able to love without limits is actually as close to full-hearted love as anyone gets? Am I expecting too much to think that I deserve to be able to access the full, boundless sensation of loving and being loved? Are you expecting too little if you think you don’t?

And how can you be sure that you love someone, really, anyway?

[This above mostly discusses my feelings of being unable to fully love others, but doesn't address the other part I mentioned--being unable to believe others fully love me. This is getting long, though, so look for a second part to this post sometime soon.]

(Photo credit: Half-Hearted - Fleet Week Airshow 2005 by remid0d0s0)


Anonymous Darkhawk said...

You wrote "and my current state of not quite being able to love without limits is actually as close to full-hearted love as anyone gets".

I don't believe in love without limits.

Perhaps more accurately, I don't believe it's a good idea.

And I'm setting aside things like "I was once in an abusive relationship. The behaviour of my so-called partner eliminated any capacity I might have retained to love him, and so he is the only person I have loved who I can honestly say I no longer love."

I am human; I am finite. I can be inspired to great amounts of emotion, of gift, of investment with my love, but those great amounts -- even those that feel that they are created by the raw force of the emotion -- are not limitless.

Last December, I ended a relationship, and the reason it came down to was that while I loved my ex deeply, I did not love him enough to have a relationship with him anymore. The problems in the relationship ran too deep and the aggregated mutual failings were too much to be borne. The love was insufficient to make it worth doing.

These days, I look into my lover's eyes and there are times that I feel I would do anything for him -- but I know that I will not delay having children for him, I will not set aside my work and my business for him, there are many things I will not do for him. He has things that he needs to do, and I know that he will not change those for me, even if I wished he had more time to spend with me, that he was not so tired and wrung out from his sense of task and obligation so much of the time.

These are the costs we know of loving each other, and limits that we accept as what comes of the love. As loves go, I value that more than boundlessness, which I consider illusory.

6/06/2006 9:34 PM  
Blogger Miss Syl said...

Hey there, Darkhawk. Thanks for the comment. Yeah, I get what you're saying, and they're good points. I'm afraid that maybe I didn't articulate myself well in this post, though. What you're discussing is the reality of expecting *unconditional* love in a relationship, but that wasn't really what I was writing about wanting. It was more about wanting to be able to actually, fully *feel* the *emotion* of love itself; to not feel slightly blocked off from feeling everything I could for a person. In all relationships, I have a feeling of always being slightly detached, as if some part of me is passively observing my own relationships from the outside in this very emotionless, analytical way, rather than just being IN them, in the moment.

6/06/2006 10:34 PM  
Anonymous Darkhawk said...

I have that process running pretty much all the time, myself; it's part of the origin of the handle I use on the 'net. (The hawk circling and observing, only visible as silhouette against the sky.)

There are things I know that can shut it off, and I've gotten better about recognising when it's ... inappropriate? and stopping over time, but it's there.

I don't know if I perceive it as interfering with being in more intense emotional states. I think sometimes it does. There are times I'd like to turn it off, put it aside, and can't; there are other times that I can.

(Most consistently, I can set it aside for certain religious rituals -- though I get the sort of dry commentary on the setup until I get into the space -- and during good sex, when I can set aside everything else and just focus on my partner.)

I'm not good at living in the moment; I need confidence in time-continuity to be able to relax into now with any consistency and without having minor freakouts afterwards. ("Oh, if life was made of moments, even now and then a bad one -- if life was made of moments then you'd never know you had one." --Into the Woods)

6/07/2006 1:34 AM  
Blogger Miss Syl said...

Yeah, I'm the same--I think I was saying in another post the only things that shut it off for me are good sexual and musical experiences. But I'd like to shut it off when it comes to love to know if I'm *really* feeling it or not. Often, I'm merely thinking, "this is what love acts like, so that's what it must be."

6/07/2006 7:16 AM  
Anonymous Buck said...

This is an extremely difficult entry.

Difficult because it's deeply personal and it speaks to me and I know exactly what you mean and I want to respond, but when it's time to start writing Everything just siezes up.

And I'm sitting here and I can feel a kind of emotional pipejam. There's a lot of material but only a narrow aperture.

"...Could this be the rule more than the exception? Are most relationships only halfhearted (or seven-eighths-hearted, or whatever)? ..."

And this might be the million dollar question. But I'm still not ready to get into this yet. I just didn't want you to think I'd forgotten you is all.

6/07/2006 12:10 PM  
Blogger ethiee said...

Wow. If I were able to put my feelings into words? They would have been so close to what you just wrote it is frightening...thank you.

6/07/2006 7:16 PM  
Blogger Miss Syl said...

Buck: You are too sweet. Thanks for saying that.

Hm, if it stirs up so many things, maybe it will be something you need to examine on your own blog? (If you do continue, which I hope you will.) If you ever do write here or there, I'll look forward to reading it.

ethiee: And thank you for thanking me. :)

6/07/2006 9:25 PM  
Anonymous Darkhawk said...

I have little of substance to contribute at this point, but I was reminded of this lyric as I was pondering whether I actually had something:

What am I gonna do when I get a little excited
A little in vain
What am I gonna say when I find that
The centre of my heart is a suburb to the brain?

Roxette, "Centre of the Heart"

(Some of the lyrics sits have 'pain' for 'vain'. I can't find my copy of the CD to check its book.)

6/08/2006 1:25 PM  

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