Lying about Love

Of all the human emotions, love is the one we are most dishonest about. We lie and say we feel it when we don’t, for all kinds of reasons, including to avoid causing pain, to get laid and to get other advantages. We say we don’t feel it when we do, to avoid awkwardness and complication, to protect ourselves and others. We’re often not even honest with ourselves about our own feelings, because it is frequently easier not to even go there.

Love is a good thing. Perhaps the best thing there is in this life. It brings joy, wonder, profound connections, and it can get you laid, and that can be glorious. Love begets children and enables enduring connections between people – not always sexual. It underpins co-operation and allows us to have a positive experience of our lives, cultures, landscapes, and other life forms. Without love, being human would be a rather cold and sorry business, I think.

So let’s talk about cake. Most of us like cake – if we can find sorts that suit our needs and appeal to our senses. Cake is one of life’s good things, it brings sweetness and comfort. Talking about cake is also easier than talking about love.

Would we say we wanted cake when really we didn’t? Would we worry that if we say no to cake today, no one will ever offer us cake again? Is this the only cake we are ever going to get? Is no better cake imaginable? Must we make do with a cake that has the wrong jam in it, and lie about liking the jam? If we want some cake, do we feel ashamed to admit this? Do we worry that people will be alarmed or affronted if we tell them how much we like their cake?

But of course cake is not as vulnerable and personal as love… it only connects to our style and buying power, to our body shape and body image. If we make them, they are full of effort and a desire to win approval and recognition. Cake is loaded with deeply personal things, but only a minority of us have eating disorders. Most of us know how to handle cake far better than we know how to handle love.

I learned a long time ago to mostly avoid mentioning how deeply I care about the people around me. I form powerful, enduring emotional attachments, I put heart and soul into anything that is more than a passing acquaintance and I’ve watched people step back if I so much as imply that there is a serious feeling on my part. Too much, too intense, too willing to give even… I’ve had plenty of conversations along the way where I’ve been asked to tone down, step back, or just plain go away. I find it difficult because I know this is the most and best I have to give, and learning how not to even put that on the table where anyone can see it most of the time, has been hard.

It takes a lot, these days, for me to chance telling someone that I love them, outside of already established connections. I have to trust that person not to hear demand or proposition in my words, or to be alarmed and threatened by it. There are few things more demoralising than baring you soul, and have that act of exposure cause someone you really cared about to push you away. Love is more exposed than cake. I wonder sometimes what life would be like in a culture where emotional openness and generosity were encouraged rather than frowned on. Where we supported each other in caring rather than hiding our hearts defensively. I rather feel it would be a better and happier way to live. Whether you can get there from here remains to be seen.

So, anyone for cake?

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

11 responses to “Lying about Love

  • Crystal L.

    I have always had the problem of loving too deeply, to fiercely, and somehow causing to people run in the other direction. I’m a Pisces, and when I feel something, I feel it with every ounce of my being. It’s the way I was made, but I’ve come to realize that there are few people able (or willing) to handle it. It has caused me to close myself off in some ways as well. Rejection, even when it’s mild, hurts, but I think especially those of us who feel so deeply.

  • Irisa MacKenzie

    I too hear that I am too intense and giving and how that drives people away. It would be loving if being so open emotionally and having a freely giving nature were seen as the treasures they are than something to avoid.

  • Raven Seven

    I really enjoyed reading this article as it covers so clearly, purely and beautifully the depths of the situation. Sadly, I am a dry old stick and it does not mean that I don’t feel, it is just that when people declare their liking for me, I tend to back off and often think why they just didn’t ‘Ask how I was?’ Invite me for a cuppa and a chat and let things evolve at an organic pace. I suppose the world is made up of all sorts and how can we understand each other unless we each explain where we are coming from.

  • Aurora J Stone

    You make some very good points here, and your cake analogy is right on the mark. The tricky bits of what make us human and complex and at times exceeding vulnerable.

  • Sylvia Pearson

    Ooooh sugar is an addiction dear girl, sorry my journey has led me to ultimately view it with d’état hemp (who am I to intervene with spellcheck ) mostly , I see it for the emptiness it is, apart from consuming a lardy cake at the fabulous fish shop after trying unsuccessfully to get on to the rainbow site to collect my tent this morning. I’m feeling disapproving because sugar is another emptiness. If we now have freezers, and if we really work out how to power the said freezers with solar power,it’s a brilliantly much heatheaer way to preserve our bounteous harvest than sugar driven preservation. I remember slicing runner beans,layering them with salt to eat during the winter months uuuurgh. Though I love pickled eggs xxxx

  • angharadlois

    No more caaaaake! Ha 🙂 I have been given so much cake in the last few days, I am truly blessed with an overabundance of the stuff – though I am holding out for cake that I like, and trying to avoid accepting cake that I know I won’t really enjoy (actually, bad cake is a lot like bad romance; an outward substitute for the good stuff, which really leaves you feeling like it has done bad things to your insides without satisfying your real needs).

    Cakes are an interesting analogy, because we project so little of our hopes and fears onto them – we rarely expect a cake to know how we feel without asking, or to behave in a certain way to ‘prove’ that our cake-love is reciprocated.

    As for sugar-coated love, I have been reflecting on the way my tendency to be over-the-top and passionately romantic has occasionally got in the way of noticing and expressing the real, simple truths of the heart. It was only when I stopped declaring love to be THE MOST IMPORTANT thing in my life that I could take a step back and realise just *how* important my relationship with my partner truly is. All that overblown romance was almost a way of keeping true feelings at arms’ length while I wrestled with how much I wanted/feared these things to be true.

  • Cauldron » A safe space for dangerous emotions

    […] can be awkward too. How many people do you genuinely love? And how many of those would you be comfortable expressing that love to? We tend to feel that the expression of love comes with a huge backpack of demands and […]

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