Friday, January 7, 2011

A Foolish Heart's View of Love (Part Two)

"Love is friendship set on fire."
-Jeremy Taylor

  We all find what works for us within our relationships. What I'm going to say might challenge some of your views and while I don't intend to personally explore everything covered here, I don't judge those whose pursuit of love falls outside accepted social norms. The dynamics of many types of relationships has changed over the past several decades. Just as the traditional family unit with stay-at-home mom has become the exception rather than the rule, the parameters of romantic relationships have changed.  And along with it, I believe, the way we define and express love. Exactly how we express it is up to each of us to decide; so many boundaries have been pushed that what was once black and white has shifted into many subtle shades of gray.

Love's Many Flavours

  What comes to mind when you hear the word love? For me as with most of us it's in the romantic sense, arguably the most intense of all feelings. There's fierce loyalty that often accompanies familial love (feelings toward family members) and platonic love as felt for friends, same-sex or otherwise. (One buddy and I always demonstrate this as an "I love you man", in the most innocuous of ways). But we know we both mean it.

  Very common for me is a feeling of fondness and affection, towards female friends on-line or otherwise. While I recognize these as friendships I also don't treat them the same way as I would with my male friends; before ever meeting me a female friend was a woman first, and remains so. It's impossible for me to ignore this, and as a result my language is completely different than with men. While I express affection more comfortably I also find myself closely weighing every word I speak or write. Male-female friendships are incredibly rewarding, but require more conscious thought for one who tends to wear his heart on his sleeve.

Spreading The Love

  Is it possible to love two people at the same time? Absolutely. Equally? Yes. It's been said the heart doesn't divide, it multiplies. I fully agree with this and believe the heart has an infinite capacity to love. Looking at it as a whole, having feelings for another doesn't take any amount of love away from your partner. Love's a flame, which doesn't diminish in size or intensity when it's passed on. It is a constant, it's our perception of circumstances that will change the way we feel about it.

  Some people have more than one long-term romantic partner at once and this arrangement works very well, as evidenced in the increasing popularity of polygamy and polyamourous relationships, both of which require full consent and acceptance from each partner. This isn't for me, although I find the whole thing quite interesting. Fortunately during the course of my marriage I've never loved anyone with the intensity in which I love Sandy, I couldn't imagine loving two people at the same time and having to make that choice. Some people don't choose, which leads me to the next topic. Affairs.

Torn Between Two Lovers

  Most of us will agree that affairs are wrong. I don't argue this. This past year two people have allowed me a very intimate look into their affairs and I've learned that things aren't as black and white as they appear to outsiders. I have a better understanding of the emotions and thinking involved; I understand how it's possible to love two people and be emotionally torn when each brings very different things into your life. I acknowledge the destruction that an affair can bring with it but while I still feel it's fundamentally wrong I'm far less judgemental than I used to be.

Love Thy Neighbour

  I'm going to turn to the subject of sex for a bit ("No way Barry," I hear you say. "What are the chances of YOU talking about sex?") This time 'round though it's not sex for its own sake, but within the context of a loving relationship. I think the majority of us view physical intimacy as an expression of love between two people, so let me complicate things here a little and spin a scenario for you.

  You're in a great relationship with your partner.  You both agree you're satisfied emotionally, there's no love lacking between you and you feel no need to search for it elsewhere.  Pillow talk of shared fantasies leads to the discovery of a mutual decision to invite another into your bed.

  So let me ask you...does a willingness to share your partner with another, if only for an evening, demonstrate love for him/her or a lack of caring? To my mind, this is perhaps the ultimate expression of selflessness within a healthy relationship. (I differentiate between a situation such as this and one in which it's done to comensate for something lacking between you).

  Some have told me they'd never share their partner with another, the reluctance of which to me is completely understandable. I've also talked at length with many who have enjoyed a tryst such as this, those who plan to and some who dream it but aren't sure they'd ever follow through.  All are in loving relationships, the vast majority who have participated said that (despite the potential harm) it's strengthened their bond. Is this an expression of love when done to please your partner?  That depends on your view, I believe there's no definite right or wrong and I'd love to hear your answer.

In Closing

  Before you begin wondering if I cling to any traditional beliefs at all, let me say this. I believe there's nothing greater than love. I believe that two people (regardless of gender), brought together to share one heart are an unstoppable force. I believe in sappy cards, romantic poetry, candlelight baths and moonlit walks. I believe in losing yourself in someone as long as you don't lose who you are when you're with them. And I believe when you hold someone in your heart, with you in theirs, you can get through anything. This for me will never change.


  1. 'Male-female friendships are incredibly rewarding, but require more conscious thought'

    I totally agree. Relationship-oriented people are especially challenged by this. It's the draw of comfortableness.

    Great to see a man's perspective! I wasn't surprised by you being a Pisces. (Takes one to know one?) I'm an Aries cusp.

  2. Such a beautiful post about love. I agree with you on the heart's infinite capacity to love, I agree it doesn't diminish for one, if felt so passionately for another, unless there's a part of you didn't feel as strongly all along; in which case the love you felt wasn't pure to begin with. True love, whoever you feel it for, whatever your relationship to that person, is pure, unconditional and self-sacrificing, it's the most wonderful thing that one can ever experience.


  3. How I miss reading your posts, Barry.
    Happy new year dear to you and to Sandy...:)
    I'm so glad I'm back to this space :)

  4. I loved this post. My man told me that he takes much joy out of seeing someone else enjoy me and the pure delight on my face. He is a very selfless man and would give me the world if he could, this I know is true.

  5. I agree with your view in "Love Thy Neighbour". I think it could strengthen a relationship. It all depends on the person though. I also agree when you say that a heart does not divide, it multiplies. Loved these posts! xo

    P.S. In response to your comment on my blog, I have a ton of poetry to share! As soon as I get back my journal from a friend on Monday, I will post some.

  6. Heather, thanks for dropping by. I find it's incredibly beneficial getting the opposite sex's viewpoint on things.

    Sophie, well said. I think these relationships will either point out the strengths or weaknesses in the way you relate to your partner.

    Bassi, it's SO great to see you here again!! Happy New Year to you as well, I left something on your blog.

    Anonymous, nothing to say but :)

    Sophia, thanks for your comment. It's a bit of an uncomfortable subject for me to be discussing with one so young, but I've always appreciated your maturity. I'm really looking forward to reading some more of your poetry, you know how much I enjoy it.

  7. Great post Barry, as always.
    "And I believe when you hold someone in your heart, with you in theirs, you can get through anything."
    Many have we been through our fair share of "stuff" and I can't express how much it means that we have stuck by each other through it all.
    2011 will definitely be our year :)

  8. I don't agree with your thoughts in the "Love thy Neighbour" section, although that's alright. I think it would be a SELFISH act, whether it's sharing your partner or having a threesome or swapping partners, from a male perspective, I feel that it's more of a male fantasy, though I could be wrong. I would think that the most common fantasy for a threesome would be 2 women and a man. Every guy's fantasy. I couldn't deal with another man added to our lovelife. To me, that's a selfish act, unless your wife or girlfriend is curious that way. And I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want to watch my wife fucking another man, just as I'm sure she wouldn't be too thrilled if I was fucking another woman. What if she prefers him over you(me?)Or, in a threesome, what if you pay more attention to the new person than your partner? Just not something I can justify. In my mind,better just to leave it as a fantasy. To say it strengthens a relationship, is a contradiction in terms in my mind. But this is just my opinion. I appreciate what you've written, and respect your right to write it. And what better way to start a debate?

  9. Honey- I agree. Not sure what the year will bring but it promises to be interesting. xo

    Anonymous- thanks for taking the time to write this, I love hearing opposing viewpoints. I wrote this in the context of something being mutually agreed upon; if, for example, you insisted on having another woman join you and your partner was against it then I agree it would be selfish. If it's a mutually shared curiosity or fantasy then I see no harm in exploring it. At the same time there are inherent dangers to a relationship that need to be acknowledged and addressed before anything is to take place.

    Theoretically speaking of course. :)

  10. It's kind of interesting but I actually agree with you when you said that a tryst organized with mutual consent is the greatest proof of the strong bond that exists between couples......I have known many friends in loving relationships and in many of our discussions this one theme is recurring. None of the people involved would ever dare bring anyone else into their midst....even when strictly physically speaking. If they find it morally wrong I understand......but many have expressed a fear that what if the other partner finds the newcomer more interesting and the seeds of an affair are planted? While I understand the fear I also a truly loving and trusting there any place for such fear? Should there be.....if the partners are truly made for each other or soulmates?