Saturday, August 22, 2015

Plurality of Love

I am always horrified and repulsed when someone says that they couldn't possibly have another child because they 'don't have enough love in their heart for more children.' This idea that love is a scarce resource has always repulsed me. People have this false idea that romantic relationships should be monogamous because they 'can't' love more than one person. It is one thing to be monogamous because that is what works for you.

Loving one person versus loving many people is a bullshit argument. I love my husband and I love my children. Right there, I am loving more than one person. Love is something that we can hold for many, many people to varying degrees. Romantic love is different from familial love which is different from platonic love. But here's the crazy idea, all of these forms of love are different on the basis of context and expression. That feeling of love is still there otherwise we wouldn't call it love.

I was talking with my old friend K. from high school who mentioned her repulsion with that idea I mentioned at the beginning of this post. We talked about it for a minute and decided that it was a complete cop out. If you don't want more children, own that shit. You don't need to justify yourself to anybody. If you don't want to be polyamorous, own it. Again, there is no reason to justify yourself.

Love is love. It is separate from how big your family is, how many friends you have, who your lover(s) are, or how much shit you own. We need to stop conflating love and its context. It is lazy and irresponsible. It also sets up this horrible standard that love can only manifest in X number of forms if you are Y type of person in Z situation. Love doesn't depend on the context. Love happens on its own. It is like water. It may take the shape of the container it is in (the context) but it is not the same thing as what is holding it.

And the glorious thing about love is that unlike water, the more you give away, the more you have. It is a self renewing resource. Emotional investment is a tricky thing. We can get exhausted from emotional investment but it doesn't negate the emotions. If I have learned anything from this bullshit with bipolar that I have been dealing with for the last six years, I have learned that emotion is separate from context. Correlation does not equate causation.

Yes, there are a great many things that can provoke an emotional response, given the correct context. That, however, is a case of you responding to stimuli and then interpreting it in an emotional context. Let's think about it for a second. The physical symptoms of the body's arousal response are all pretty much the same. The limbic system for humans is more or less the same for each human and does the same thing, most of the time. The frontal cortex processes the stimuli as it hits the limbic system. For a moment, all you've got is the physical response to the stimulus. But, depending on how the frontal cortex processes the situation, that response can be fear, anger, excitement, anxiety, sexual arousal, or something entirely different.

Love is the same set of sensations every time. That's how we identify it from other emotions. The context helps us assess what is provoking that response. It can be the face of our child, the face of our lover, the sight of a pet, a favorite item, or anything else you can possibly have that stimulates that response. Yes, the process that the love response comes from is somewhat more complex than that of the fight-or-flight response. It doesn't change the fact that it is the same response for different stimuli.

Damn near anything can provoke a fight-or-flight response given the correct context. Why can't anyone figure out that it is the same thing with love?

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