Who Do You Love?

I recently read Carsie Blanton‘s excellent post on Casual Love (on her blog Brighter than a Buoy), and it sent my little mind hamster a-scurrying… after all, don’t we feel love every day? And not solely for our significant other(s)…

Personally, I feel a great deal of love for the people in my life. Sure, I feel romantic love for those with whom I share a romantic connection, but I also feel a very deep, very real love for other connections.

But… and this is a big but… it’s actually uncomfortable socially to tell most people that you love them. The minute the “L-word” comes out, the implication is that you want to sleep with that person, date/marry that person, spend all of eternity together, and/or be in love together.

This expectation that is weighed upon the word “love” comes from the idea of love as a finite, scarce commodity: Be careful who you give your [commodity] to, you only get so much, and when you run out, that’s it… you’re done.

But emotions, like love, aren’t limited. There was no one handing out Love Tokens when we were born, warning us to spend them carefully or else suffer through life alone and unloved. Love exists in abundance, constantly producing more of itself as we interact with others and share our love.

The assumption that we can only love certain people just seems silly to me. I can say “I love you” to my brother, and no one thinks twice about it. No one assumes that I want to date of go to bed with him. So why is that always the assumption when someone says “I love you” to someone unrelated?

Most people that I know consider their close friends to be family. If it’s perfectly acceptable to love one’s family, and one’s friends become one’s family, then shouldn’t it be probable (perhaps even expected) that one should love one’s friends?

I certainly think so.

Wouldn’t it be a lovely thing if people could express and share the love they feel for others without the added pressures and expectations that are assumed to be there?  Ms. Blanton writes from the perspective of interacting with a casual lover, but I really feel that this idea of no-pressure love should be applied more universally, not limited to those for whom one feels romantic love.

In that spirit, I say to my friends, as Ms. Blanton so eloquently puts it:

I LOVE YOU. No big deal.