Watch out, folks. The sociopath’s gonna talk about that nasty thing today. You know. That nasty L word. Most people assume that I lean towards The Collector from Demon Knight’s stance on it; don’t care to say it, assume I’m not worth it, and opt for violence as a substitute.
Well, that’s not totally inaccurate. I tend to avoid the word, m’self. Why? Well, there’s folks that hate curse words. They hate how their prevalence in today’s media has made them seem innocuous and inoffensive to many, mere “sentence enhancers,” and that they’re almost more offensive in the sapping of their vitriol than they were when they were horrid epithets that would land you in the stockades for whispering them. While I don’t necessarily agree with that stance – because there are moments where they really are just the right word for a given moment or situation – it’s sort of the way I feel about that little word.
In case you’ve not yet determined just which word I’m talking about, it’s “love.” (What, did you think Billy Zane was trying to say “I lick you, Jeryline?” “I lock you, Jeryline?” I dunno.)
“Gasp!” I hear you cry. “He doesn’t like ‘love’? Shock! Horror!” I’m sure I scandalized you, right? Not likely, I’m sure. But it’s my rationale behind it that probably would actually surprise some of you. It’s not that I completely disbelieve in its existence, or that I’m some morbid ghoul who loathes the idea as something belonging only to the light while I languish in the shadows, or that my mental dysfunctions prevent me from grasping the concept. Not so.
What I despise is the meaning that most associate with the word. The things that people think constitute “love,” the things people accept in the name of “love,” the things that our society teaches us mean someone “loves” you and how to “love” them in return. I hate the commonality of it, the way it’s tossed around with almost ridiculous casualness until it effectively means nothing.
Think about it. We use the word “love” to talk about movies, books, games, ice cream flavors, cigarette brands, liquor types. But it’s also supposed to be used to refer to intimate relationships, exceptionally close friends, family and pets we can’t do without? The power’s been sapped.
Then there’s the foiks who apply it almost immediately. “Oh my god, I love my boyfriend/girlfriend! I told him so, and he said it back, it’s so amazing!” “How long have you guys been together?” “Two days.” “…” “But we’ve known each other for like almost a month!” *facepalm* (And the addendum to this: “I love him, except when he does this… and that… and those things.” “I love her, except for her movies, her hair, her friends and her car.”)
Or the concept that seems ever-so-popular these days: The idea that “love” means stalker-type, borderline (or sometimes worse) abusive behavior, insane jealousy and possessiveness and attempted suicide when separated from their “love.” Who they have typically known for a very brief period, where typically the only motivation for that “love” is physical attractiveness and the individuals know hardly anything about each other, and will complain constantly about “flaws” in the other – or seek to beat those flaws out or otherwise mitigate the aspects that make each individual their own person. “He watches me while I sleep, tells me who I can and can’t associate with, follows me everywhere, throws me against walls and threatens me when I do stuff he doesn’t like and knows almost nothing about me, but oh my god he’s so hawt. I’m in looooooove.”
No. Just no.
Now, there’s always the distinct possibility that I have a very different definition of love than most people. That whatever it is that stirs in the depths of my little black heart is something else entirely. But here’s where I present what I consider to be “love:”
When you love someone, you don’t pick and choose aspects of their being that you do or don’t like/tolerate/allow. You want the whole package, for good or for ill. There is something that is just as alluring, just as endorphin-pumping about them when their hair is perfect as it is when they look like hell. You care about them, you want to be there with them, you want them to be happy when they’re miserable and lashing out just as much as when they bring you your favorite dinner and give you the most amazing sex you’ve ever had. You find that just being around them makes life better, that something in you that’s missing or broken is there and whole just from them being with you.
You give yourself over to them, you give freely, completely, and truthfully. You don’t give because it will get you something or because it’s reciprocated; you do it because you love them, and that means you put them first. If something can make them happy, make them feel worthwhile, make them feel for even one second that they are important to someone, then it’s worth doing regardless of cost or potential gain. You do it for them. Not for what they can do for you.
You would die for them – though not necessarily live for them – and some part of you is marking everything you say, do, think or dream as dedicated to the one(s) you love. You do things that, even if no one else knows it, form silent testaments to your love, and they matter because you know it was done, in some way, for that person. And you don’t do them to impress that person, or to get something out of it. Half the time they may not even be aware that it was inspired by or done for them.
But most of all, it’s putting their happiness first. And sometimes, that’s going to bite you in the ass. Sometimes that’s going to burn you. But if you genuinely care about that person – really love them, don’t just think they’re interesting in one facet or make you happy like eating a cupcake for this moment but can stuff that in the back closet if they’re not around – then you should want what’s best for them. Not in a creepy Christian Grey, “I’ll tell you what’s best and you’d better step to it!” way, but in the “I see that there’s something you need… and even if it’s not something I can give, or something I am, I want you to have it… even if that means stepping back.”
As far as using the word in conversation, there is a time and place for it I suppose. And sometimes you have to state things plain, and in those instances I have used the word. But making it the beginning, middle and end of every conversation is just tiresome. You shouldn’t have to tell someone every five seconds that you love them. You should show them. Words are cheap – ironic, coming from a writer, eh? – but actions are invaluable. Saying “I love you” doesn’t mean nearly as much as remembering a birthday, a favorite color, a quote from a favorite book or movie, surprising them with a phone call, visit or flowers “just because,” or a hand on the shoulder or a hug at the right time… but a lot of people seem to think it’s an acceptable substitute. Slight addendum to that: The words “I love you” and “I’m sorry” should extremely rarely, if ever, be used in the same sentence. Saying “I love you” when you’re being a douche, forgetting those birthdays, little moments, etc or as an excuse or apology for your actions is potentially the most vile of lies. My inner vengeance demon seeks to punish those the most.
Lastly… if you love someone, every aspect of your being should be devoted to not bringing harm or pain to that person. To willfully, either though action or inaction, hurt someone you claim to love is the worst betrayal of all. No excuses can be made, no confession or absolution can be given. Period.
Anyway. To sum up: Love is an overused word with almost no meaning these days. I believe in love, and think it’s important. I do not believe love should be used as a bargaining chip, an excuse, an apology or leverage. Actions that prove your love mean a hell of a lot more than saying three little words. If you have somehow gained my love, and misuse it in such a way, you will earn my undying hatred. Love doesn’t mean thinking someone is “perfect,” either ridiculing or being willfully blind to their flaws; it means taking the person as a whole and loving all of them, because if any aspect of them were to be changed they would not be the person that you love. (Note: That does not mean that they’re not allowed to change. It means you shouldn’t force change or berate any one aspect of what makes them who they are.)
We can now let the wild rumpus start; have on. Am I a crazy sociopath, or has the idea of love gotten turned around, warped or destroyed by the way things seem to be done these days? Is there some aspect I left uncovered? Just 2 cents to throw in the hat? Drop a note in the comment box down below. Until next time…