The trouble with love

I love you. I love chocolate. I love the gods, my cat, the duvet… love is such an awkward little word that gets stretched to cover far too many things. I talked yesterday about my love affair with Ronald Hutton, painfully conscious that ‘love’ was the only word to use, and at the same time, misleading.

I’ve always been an intensely emotional person, and I tend to form deep attachments to people. As a younger human, these were often confusing. I did the crushes, fiercely, I fell in love, and I also fell into other things that there aren’t any words for. People I adore, and need, and want to spend time with but where it’s not about sex or necessarily anything very physical at all. Affairs of the heart and mind have always been as important to me as connections driven by physical desire.

There have been amorous entanglements that lacked some of those other dimensions, and they didn’t entirely work for me. It took a while to find the person who I can connect with in every way, creatively and emotionally, physically, in practical space sharing, in life sharing… one person who can be all things to me. Does that mean I fall out of my entirely head-based adoration of Ronald Hutton? Not at all. There is room.

The trouble with love is that we only have this one word, and we use it too much, especially in advertising. We devalue it by attaching it to things we kind of like. We erode language by misuse. I bought some crisps last week that, according to their packaging, were ‘epic’. They aren’t. They are bits of flavoured potato and I like them. I am supposed to find them epic, and love them, but if I do that to a bit of thinly sliced spud, either my whole perspective is going to get horrible skewed, or I end up with the words meaning less to me. Meaningless, even.

I love passion and creativity in other people. Really love it. I respond to beauty and wonder with intense emotion, I cry over things when a lot of people wouldn’t. I’ve learned to be careful about how I share this, while holding my boundaries and keeping space for myself to feel it. I’ve never found it difficult to love. By this I do not mean ‘like’, I do not mean the love of epic crisps, but an intense emotion that sweeps through me and inspires me to do things. I fall in love with books and rush to tell people about them (Fiona Tinker and Graeme Talboys in recent weeks). I fall in love with the integrity and compassion of other people, with acts of courage and heartbreaking sacrifice. I find my soul stripped bare by the bleak loveliness of a winter’s morning.

Over and over, I come back to those limited, useless words that tell people the wrong thing. Wanting to walk up to people and say ‘I love what you do, I love you,’ and knowing that more often than not it will provoke confusion and not convey what I want it to. It is love, but not a request to get into someone’s pants.

You don’t know who you are, because I’ve never worked out how to tell you. Some of you read this, some of you comment here. Maybe you’re wondering. If you’re reading this and even considering that you might be one of the people I’m talking about here, the odds are good that I do indeed mean you.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, polyamourous animist, ant-fash, anti-capitalist, bisexual steampunk. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

5 responses to “The trouble with love

  • Robin

    Neologise! The world needs more words.

  • Alex Jones

    Love is an abstracted word – meaningless. I struggled years to find suitable definitions. A nine-year-old child gave me the definition:

    “Have fun, be happy, live. l.o.v.e.”

  • Nimue Brown

    nice ones, chaps! And I find Alex, most words don’t really mean anything if you think about them for too long… only by clinging to the surface does language really remain viable. Still, it would b tricky to do this by other means 🙂

  • autumnbarlow

    I agree that words are tricky. I don’t usually believe them anyway. It’s too easy for people to say “love” or “you mean something to me” or “I’m here for you” but especially online and facebook and stuff, people just type it without meaning it, I used to believe it until I realised it was just meaningless. Actions mean more. Effort. People trying to get to know me. Beyond words, you know? I’ve given up on all online communication having any meaning.

  • Jennifer Tavernier

    LOL! I Got what you are saying! I do pay attention to author’s intent online – and I feel really good about being able to decipher the use or depths of the author’s intent. Have no problems there, and if I am confused, I simply ask. It is not so much the words, it is the energy behind them that communicates, in overall context.
    Some other great words I have picked up and used, delineating general depth, are: passionate, (and the object of the sentence kind of gives a clue), affinity, or affinity for, with qualifiers of a good or bad (no affinity) relationship with. Agape comes in handy – (with those of Christian orientation, as that speaks of the love between brothers, or brotherly love – tight group members -. (This came in handy when I was doing lots of various church singing/choir gigs)
    Thesuarus .com as a verb, has these:
    adore, like very much (I can’t say adore is really a part of my vocab – too cutesy for me)
    Synonyms: admire, adulate, be attached to, be captivated by, be crazy about, be enamored of, be enchanted by, be fascinated with, be fond of, be in love with, canonize, care for, cherish, choose, deify, delight in, dote on, esteem, exalt, fall for, fancy, glorify, go for, gone on, have affection for, have it bad, hold dear, hold high, idolize, long for, lose one’s heart to, prefer, prize, put on pedestal, think the world of, thrive with, treasure, venerate, wild for, worship
    Antonyms: dislike, hate, scorn

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