Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I'm Not in Love, So Don't Forget It, It's Just a Silly Phase I'm Going Through

Maybe it's different for girls. Girls and modern age, in-touch-with-their-feelings kinds of sensitive guys. But you sort of know when you're in love with someone. I mean really, truly, ain't-no-denyin'-it, what-the-fuck-is-going-on, can-this-be-real, surely-you-jest in love with someone. It's a feeling that doesn't happen terribly often, but when it does, it's both elating and nauseating. Overwhelming sometimes. Especially when you don't know what to do with those feelings, wondering if the other person feels the same way about you...but it's termed "head over heels" for a reason. And it's always got to be so fucking complicated too. It's never just boy-meets-girl, boy-and-girl-become-best-buddies, boy-falls-in-love-with-girl-and-makes-her-knees-buckle, girl-blabs-about-him-to-all-her-girlfriends, boy-finally-leaves-wife and they live happily ever after.

I was reading a psychology blog today (Partners in Wellness) about depressed patients telling their partners "I love you, but I'm not in love with you..." and what the causes of that are, the ramifications of such a statement in relationships, etc. It was about adjusting to the depressed patient's sullen mood and trying to not take the statement personally, and how depression literally sucks the romance out of the patient, how many anti-depressants ruin the patient's sex drive and that radiates into their relationships. It went on and on, but the general gist of it was whether or not you should stay with your partner if they're going through major depression and what you should do if they come home one day and announce they're no longer in love with you. I dunno, it didn't sound very fair to the depressed patient from my perspective, but...author Kate Theida writes:

Your partner, who has been experiencing mental illness, just said to you, “I love you, but I’m not in love with you.”

“Excuse me? After all I’ve done for you and all you’ve put me through?”, you think. Next comes: “Wait…what does that mean, anyway?”

It could mean a lot of things.

Let’s take a poll as to what it means when your partner has a mental illness:

A. Exactly what they said: they still care about you, but the romantic spark of being “in love” is gone.

B. They never loved you in the first place, but are just realizing or admitting to it now.

C. They are struggling so much with their mental illness that they are incapable of feeling emotions of any kind, including love. Therefore, “feeling no emotion” = “I must not love you any more.”

D. Your partner is experiencing a major life change with having a mental illness, and is re-evaluating their life, which includes your relationship.

E. This is another version of “It’s not you, it’s me” when someone is looking for an excuse to end a relationship.

We could argue that any and all of the above answers apply, and I would agree with you, but the best answer is C.


The above statements could be true of anybody, not just the depressed, don't you think? In all fairness, this has happened to me and I wasn't even depressed. Mentally ill, yes, but was that why my relationships didn't last? I don't know. It couldn't have helped, but I find pigeonholing the mentally ill as unlovable is unfair.

I also read a "psychology" blog today about 8 rules of attraction, or "secrets of falling in love." That was largely a load of hooey, with obvious "secrets" such as falling in love with someone with similar political leanings (true, I probably wouldn't date a rampant right-winger), a good waist-to-hip ratio on a woman (signaling good fertility, a subconscious sign for guys), a decent age difference (sorry, Chris, but you and the French kid wouldn't have worked out but no wonder I like older guys), couples that look alike tend to stay together longer (cue "Dueling Banjos"), your partner's capacity for altruism (yes, it's nice when your partner is a "do-gooder," but it's not necessary for love to happen), as well as some load of crap about super-skinny people (like me) being the ideal for men in the Western world where food is plentiful as a sign of the woman's self-control and stability (talk about pigeonholing!).

Craig and I sat on my dorm room floor, looking at one another, after we'd been dating for a few months back in '92. "There's a difference between loving someone and being in love with them," he told me. "Yeah, so?" I said. He went on, "Well, I know that I love you." That was it. I told him I loved him too. Was I in love with him at that point? Sure, I was. And I meant that "I love you" as such. But he was making it blatantly clear that he wasn't, at the time, in love with me. I assume he fell in love with me later on, or loved me enough eventually to marry me and bear a child with me, and we had several happy years together both before and after we got married. Do we still love one another? In our own weird way, yeah, we do. We share Luke. We're interconnected forever. But I found his statement a weird thing to say to your girlfriend when he said it 20 years ago and still find it weird today.

But Chris was even weirder. He actually professed to never having been in love with me, even given the longevity of our relationship. He shuffled it off as to "not knowing what being in love with someone meant anymore." I asked him if he'd been in love with his long-term college girlfriend. Yes, he was, of that he was sure. Was he in love with his wife when they got married? He thought so. Was he in love with the French girl he was having the affair with? He wondered if he might be at the time (he went so far as to do a spread sheet that I found on his computer where he laid out a pro and con of "Do I believe in soul mates and is Taylor mine?" which I questioned him about, that he deduced that no, she wasn't his soul mate). But was Chris in love with me? Nope. He was convinced he wasn't in love. Never had been, wasn't and didn't plan on being in love with me in the future.

During our relationship, I would ask him about the feelings he had for me and what they specifically were. How he felt when he saw me, when he kissed or held me, after he'd made love to me (which is, by the way, the worst time to find out if someone's in love with you because you're too full of oxytocin to think straight). I'd ask him what he felt in his heart after spending a weekend with me, and he'd tell me. (This was before violence interfered with our relationship.)

"This," I'd reply, "is what being in love is." He knew that I thrilled his soul, or at least he told me I did, which is a pretty powerful feeling. (But I suppose, at the end of the day, Chris and I were both fools, because I told him what being in love felt like and he told me what a healthy relationship was, and neither of us was right.) Had he been in love with me, perhaps he wouldn't have hidden me away as a dirty little secret from his family and friends on social networking sites and not have introduced me to everyone as "his friend" instead of as his "girlfriend."

I'm big on soul thrilling. I asked my ex-husband after we got divorced if he married me just to get married or if it was because I thrilled his soul, and he said it was the latter. Right now, I thrill the souls of two men, neither of which is my boyfriend, but are each my soul mates in his own special way, and it's still a very powerful statement to me. Guys are REALLY weird with the soul thrilling question. The uber-sensitive guy who is one of my soul mates said an exuberant "YES!" when I asked him if I thrilled his soul, and the other, who is my soul mate on a totally different level, just sat nervously and stared blankly ahead of him when I said to him, "I thrill your soul, so what should we do about that?" That's why I said maybe it's different for girls. We're just better at expressing our emotions.

While I profess to preferring to date one man at a time, not that I'm dating anyone at the moment, I believe it's possible to be in love with more than one person at a time. The levels of intensity are different, and the circumstances are certainly different but in my experience, it's totally possible. It unfortunately happened to me while I was still married, while I was dating Chris, and still is true today. Again, it's not behavior I'm necessarily proud of sometimes, but it happens. I follow my heart way more than I follow my head. Sometimes that works out famously. Other times, it becomes a pragmatically impossible clusterfuck.

So has anyone ever been truly in love with me? Oh my, yes. Passionately. Recklessly. Somewhat unrequitedly. (See blog "I am Beautiful...") Guys everybody knows about and guys nobody knows about and never will. And I've been in love, many times over. I've also had my heart broken more times than I can count as a result.

"I keep your picture upon the wall. It hides a nasty stain that's lying there. So don't you ask me to give it back, I know you know it doesn't mean that much to me. I'm not in love, no, no. It's because....ooh, you wait a long time for me. Ooh, you wait a long time..."


Rebeca Siren said...

Infatuation is centered around how they make you feel, love is centered around how the other person feels and how you can make them happy. So, I think you are in true love only when you accept that person for who they are, flaws and all and know that without them in your life you would be less of the person you are now.

Annie Miklasz, Offbeat Drumming Lunatic said...

Well, then certainly my ex-boyfriend, Chris, was never in love with me though I was in love with him. He never accepted me for my flaws and was the dominant personality in our relationship. He called all the shots; I was powerless, to the point where I lost any identity other than to be his girlfriend. And I was content to let that go on for 3 1/2 years! I finally broke free when he began to see other women and put me at the bottom of the food chain. And that was NOT easy for me. (I was being abused as well, which made it doubly hard to leave.) But I would've done anything for that man. Truly.