I started falling in love with people when I was about fourteen. I did not know then that I had already found my adult form in terms of how I would love, but I’ve never changed. I was always plural, always passionate, able to love for the long haul from early on. My first attachments lasted years, some lasted decades. I wish I’d know that my heart deserved to be taken seriously.
One of the curious reoccurring themes is the number of people along the way who have told me that I can’t possibly love them because I don’t know them well enough. It is not them that I love, they tell me, but an idea of them that lives in my head. This raises so many interesting questions about what we think love is, how we think it happens, what we think it means and in what ways we will accept it from other people.
I’ve done love at first sight. I’ve done love at second email. I can fall for people slowly over time or in sudden heart explosions of dangerous proportions. Usually I know exactly what it is that I love – it tends to be about creativity, imagination, intensity, originality of thinking, kindness and generosity. I’m responsive to other people’s passion, to the folk who are inspired, driven and perfectly themselves. These are the things about people I fall in love with and by the time I mention it to anyone it will be because I’ve had time to be sure that what I’m seeing is probably real. I’ve made the odd mistake, but not many.
How I see people is not always how they see themselves. I know from experience that it can be challenging to have someone love you in ways you don’t recognise. Tom’s perception of me remains a long way from how I see myself. But, I think he’s entitled to that perception, and having known me closely for over a decade, differences of opinion are not measures of misunderstanding. Sometimes we see things in people they do not see in themselves. There is a loss of power, potentially, in someone loving an aspect of you that you cannot even see. It is confusing, but maybe it isn’t terrible and maybe they aren’t wrong.
How well do you need to know someone in order to love them? Can you simply love them for the fact of their existence? Can you love them with a spiritual love that sees the spark of the divine in all things? Does it matter? How much do we need to understand the exact reasons why another person undertakes to love us? Do we overcomplicate the natural affection of our creature selves?