Love is a many splendoured thing

Love is a many spendoured thing, or love is a many splintered thing?

The greatest thing about love is its unpredictability, its non-compartmentability, its incomprehensiveness. Despite the multi-billion people who have experienced love no-one has been able to get into its psyche, to tame it.

From the three previous articles my personal observations lead me to believe:

  • there are many different kinds of love.
  • we are capable of falling in love with thousands of different people.
  • we can love more than one person at any given time.
  • some people have life partners and some do not.
  • love is on a gradient; we can love one person more than another.
  • it depends on the individual as to how much in love one needs to be in order to be satisfied one has found their life partner.

So can anything useful be garnered from these observations? The main conclusion that I keep on returning to is that it appears to be quite natural to have more than one partner.

I’m certainly not advocating having simultaneous partners, this is easy to refute; just imagine how you would feel if your partner had an alternate. But it is pretty clear that over the course of a lifetime the possibility arises for an individual to be in love several times.

This is rather at odds with a conventional Western view of marriage and family, where one life partner, and a stable home for any children is widely considered the ideal. Perhaps it isn’t.

Perhaps if more fluidity were considered the norm, then the fears and stigmas of broken homes might be avoided, and might be viewed with much less embarrassment and contempt.

For ‘broken homes’ maybe we should substitute ‘multi-homes’. After all some so-called stable homes are not exactly dens of pleasure, and plenty of children from so-called broken homes grow up to be decent, rounded people.

Maybe we should worry less about love, and more about its effects.

How much do you love me?

Clearly it cannot be true that there is only the one person with whom we can fall in love, as indicated in the previous article.

If that were so then what are the chances of finding that one person? We often find our life partner at the same college, or working for the same company, or living around the corner. There must be plenty more potential lovers from the other billions around the planet.

So there has to be quite a number of people with whom we are capable of loving, and who are capable of loving us.

One point that needs raising here is the question of whether love is an ultimate condition, whole and unconditional, or is it on a kind of loving gradient. Can we love someone, but not quite as strongly as we love someone else? It would seem logical to assume this is so. It could be argued that when one is in love with someone that love prevents us from loving someone else for the duration of the love. But there are just too many examples of people with overlapping love that I feel we can discount this argument. A more pertinent question might be whether love is a permanent state or just temporary, but that is for a later article.

If we are able to fall in love with multiple partners it just doesn’t seem possible that we can fall wholly and equally in love with them all, one of them will be favored.

So the answer to the question “Do you love me?” is not as simple as “Yes” or “No”. It should be more like “I think I do, quite a lot”. In fact the question is not right. Better is “How much do you love me?” which makes it slightly easier to answer, with perhaps “A lot, but not enough to want to be your life partner at present” or “Enough to continue dating”.

How far along the gradient of love do you need to go to be satisfied, to be able to commit to a life partner? I don’t find it easy to put this gradient into words, but here goes: in love, very much in love, deeply in love, truly in love, madly in love. I suppose everyone has their own idea of how much they need to love to someone before wishing to share their life with this person, possibly depending on such things as age and desperation, and probably on other factors such as money.

In fact it’s not difficult to imagine a couple agreeing to become life partners who are not in love.


You’re the only one for me

The word love conjures up a myriad of complex feelings. This is compounded by the many varieties of love as mentioned in the previous article. But let’s concentrate on the love that confuses, bemuses and defuses the most: love for a partner.

Most kinds of love are largely understandable, for example: love for a pet. However love for a partner has baffled us since it began (and that is another story which we will leave aside for later), baffled and fascinated in equal measure.

In English there exists the term to fall in love (I’m unsure about other languages, but I guess there is generally some equivalent phrase), but how do we fall? And when are we in love? Is it a reciprocated emotion? Is love mutual (as suggested in a comment in the previous article)? And there is also the term true love. Does this infer that there is also a false love?

As usual I have more questions than answers, so let’s just investigate as logically as is possible and see where it gets us.

You’re the only one for me! Our destiny has arrived when we meet our one perfect partner. So there’s only one? Only one person on the planet with whom it is possible to fall in love. It’s obviously nonsense.

For argument’s sake let’s consider a heterosexual scenario. A male is looking for a partner. There are 3.5 billion females on the planet. Even subtracting those unavailable it would still leave a huge number. And this is just a snapshot in time. Perhaps this male’s ideal partner is now too young, but in 10 years’ time may develop into the ideal partner. If there is only one partner with whom to fall in love then the chances of finding them are practically non-existent.

But many people do fall in love, so it follows that we can fall in love with more than one person, not just two or three, but hundreds, possibly thousands. Thus it is possible to find an ideal partner, but when there are multiple ideal partners it starts to become clear why love causes so many problems.


Love is …

Among the current trend for lists are endless lists of the types of love. Some lists have 4 types, maybe 6, or 7, or more, and some appear to be based on a number of old Greek words. The one thing these lists have in common is that they try to classify the different kinds of love according to the emotion and commitment involved. However I prefer to classify these loves according to what is loved. Here goes.

  • love for god
  • love for spouse
  • love for family & relatives
  • love for a friend
  • love for a pet
  • love for music, art, literature, food
  • love for a sportsteam

And there are surely more. In some cases love can be substituted by a synonym, for example love could be viewed as passion (possibly as love for art), affection (love for a pet), fanaticism (love for a sportsteam), infatuation (love for a partner), devotion (love for god), and many more. That there are different kinds of love would seem to be inescapable (perhaps languages other than English better deal with these differences). Admittedly there is a kind of common denominator, and the word love does conjure up an idea of a deep and positive emotion, which has the power to raise people, but also has the power to cloud judgment. This can’t be more true than the so-called romantic love, which never stops to fascinate. TBC