I have had the idea for this post about the risk of love for a while, but since today is Valentine’s Day and I have a little time to sit here and write, I figured now was a good time.
A stone’s throw from Jerusalem
I walked a lonely mile in the moonlight
And though a million stars were shining
My heart was lost on a distant planet
That whirls around the April moon
Whirling in an arc of sadness
I’m lost without you. I’m lost without you
Though all my kingdoms turn to sand
And fall into the sea
I’m mad about you. I’m mad about you.
-Sting Mad About You
Even as a young person, hearing those Sting lyrics for the first time, I was intrigued with the idea of how love can be something so glorious and powerful that it could make you feel “Mad.” Not just Crazy for you, but Mad about you. I’ve always felt the weight of madness to be heavier than simply being crazy for someone. As if there are depths to plumb in love that hint at madness, all darkness and shadows. A place where pain rests comfortably side-by-side with joy. A place where all the risk, all the loss, all the ache is worth it because of the love. Maybe it’s all just too deep for a Sunday morning, but I like to believe that even the most difficult love relationship is worth the risk. Worth diving into the chance of touching a bit of madness to find the joy.
Painful relationships suck. I’ve been in quite a few. Haven’t we all? When I married my ex-husband I thought he would be my forever person and the unraveling of our relationship certainly revealed a level of madness in the process. It hurt. A lot. When I dove into my relationship with Said, I was more mature, I had been through even more, I was so secure in myself, and knew he saw me for who I really am, and loved me for her. Yes- madness would be a very good way to describe the way our relationship ended. The way I felt when I was hanging onto the dream when the reality was showing me something very different. It sucked.
Yet, here I sit. On Valentine’s Day, believing in love, still and yet again. My guy, Dex, has told me he loves me. I have a socially-distanced date with a new guy at the Farmer’s Market planned for this afternoon, he seems like a nice guy so far. Easy fun relationships are obvious. We go into them knowing in the back of our heads that there is risk to our hearts, but we don’t look for it, we don’t expect it. It could happen, but we ignore it (for now) because it’s fun and happy. As it should be!
But what about those relationships where you see the peril before you even start, but start you do? I am famous for that! I feel connections to some people very deeply and very quickly. I can feel there is a reason we met, a reason we are attracted to each other, a reason to be together. Even though I know, right from go, this relationship is gonna hurt. It just is. I mean, I am currently dating a monogamous man, who while he says he loves me, he really wants the whole relationship escalator. Something I stepped off of a while ago, and have no plans to ride again. So when he talks about meeting new people, as a polyamorous person, that makes me happy for him, but with it comes the knowledge that for him, it’s not going to be just adding on another love and sharing his life with us both, it could lead to him breaking it off with me and moving on. That’s gonna suck.
As a polyamorous person, I have to believe that love is worth the risk, because I could be in love with more than one person at any given time. I could be in pain from more than one relationship at the same time, I could be one of each. (Those are some of the most confusing times!) Polyamory allows me to jump into love in so many different forms and with so many different ways. I love this one one way, I love this one another. Sometimes people have questioned my definition of love, because it doesn’t align closely enough with this Valentine’s Day ideal of one true love. That doesn’t mean I can’t feel that deep abiding kind of love, I just might feel it differently. No maybe it’s better to say, I might just express it within my chosen relationships in different ways. But like any kind of love, loosing it hurts. But it’s still worth the risk.
“Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, and therefore is winged Cupid painted blind” – William Shakespeare
I am definitely not the kind of person who “falls in love.” Say what? Didn’t I just spend 800 words telling you how much I love love? Generally though, I know what I am getting myself into and I make a conscious choice to deepen a relationship, to pursue love, to agree to a relationship that will use the word love and follow that path. I have all the happy pheromone feelings and New Relationship Energy, don’t get me wrong. But for me, love is almost always a very conscious decision. One in which I certainly take into account all the risks and potential for “madness” then use my mind to decide.
I can remember that point, more than once, when I decided, “Yes, this is worth the risk. This is a person I am going to pursue love with.” I tend to jump into love rather than fall in love. Now, once I make my choice, to love or not to love, I am fortunate enough to also make the attempt at defining each relationship in a way that works for both me and my partner. How this relationship will work, can be created intentionally and purposefully. In some ways, this almost seems to mitigate some of the risk. We have a plan, we know what we expect, we talk about wants and needs and limits. Love is never totally without risk, but a relationship that is entered into intentionally, for me seems to help manage it a little bit.
Maybe it’s because I know that no matter the pain, no matter the madness, no matter the sadness, I will be ok. I will be able to get past it when it hurts. After love has knocked me on my ass, I will see sunshine and flowers and breathe happy air again. Maybe not right away, maybe sooner than I expected, you never know. But I do know, it will be ok again. My faith that there is more love, and there are people in my life who love me, regardless of romantic situations, holds me up and gives me the strength to risk the madness. Because in the end, love is worth the risk.
You might like this older post about dealing with some of the risks I sometimes feel when pursuing a relationship: I’m Good at Sex, It’s the Relationship Parts I Can’t Do