I was reading an article called "I’m Madly in Love with You, But Don’t Worry, It’s Not a Big Deal", and it made me feel some Feels.
"We’re told “love” is a very important, very valuable word that should be used with extreme caution and frugality. If we felt this feeling for just anybody it wouldn’t be so special, right?" says the author Sara. And I get where she's going with this- that love isn't something restricted to just a soulmate, or even a romantic partner. I'm with her there, love is a multitude of things and comes in lots of different guises and that doesn't mean one is better or more important than another.
"So, the idea of love scarcity prevails. We are tricked into thinking the word “love” will lose it’s value and meaning if it’s shared too many times with too many people," the article continues. And I just had to stop.
In my experience, belief in love scarcity is not the reason I'm skittish about saying "I love you" to people. It's because love tends to suggest an intensity of feeling that can make the other person feel awkward if it's not reciprocated. It scares people off, because they may have had bad experiences with the term being used not in good faith. Also, it can create tension if feelings of love makes one person feel they may want to renegotiate relationship needs/expectations, not because those things are automatic, but because loving someone is tender and a tender heart often needs a little more care.
I feel like there was a lot of pressure in my last relationship to say my love for my then-lover came without any expectations or needs or desires. It was "just a feeling" and I was perfectly happy feeling it on my own. The problem was that even when we talked about relationship needs/desires, my ex seemingly expected me not to have ANY, ever. Because I fell in love without any needs, why would I have any now? He often implied that expressing that a deepening of intimacy made me feel there was different accountability we should discuss could put our relationship in jeopardy. I felt that the only way it was acceptable to love him was if it "wasn't a big deal".
But it was. My heart is vulnerable and to insist that I should fall in love and it shouldn't be a big deal is setting people, including myself, up for failure. It's ok for love, or other forms of intimacy/vulnerability, to be a big deal. Love may be infinite but energy is not, especially if you're dealing with being differently abled in some capacity. And time is definitely finite. You don't have to be chill about it, folks, ok?
I have a serious issue with the various pieces I've seen that seem to suggest the best way to be nonmonogamous is to be some sort of poly libertarian, taking care of yourself and not worrying about the people around you. Sure, idealistically, everyone would have the same resources and not have any trauma and that would totally work. But we live in the real world, and these sorts of expectations are so often not only unreasonable, but can be used to justify emotional abuse, abandonment, and downright cruelty. My ex definitely enacted some of these traits and it was a sign of his narcissism, not of healthy nonmonogamy. Articles like "It's Not A Big Deal" added to why I thought I was doing poly wrong, or badly, because I wanted my partner to reassure me and give me some form of stability.
Fuck that. It is not a weakness to care about other people. It is not a bad thing to need others. We are social creatures, and the more we try to push that away, the more toxic I see these environments become.
So please, good god, can we just stop with the cynical "I'm too cool for love or feelings or empathy" bullshit? It's really fucking things up.