The Responsibility of Love

by Anonymous

You want someone who’s independent and strong. Someone who knows where she’s going yet lost to just the right extent that it’s exciting. You want someone who does not need you to live. Her life would have been just as colorful, vivid and fulfilling if you had never entered it. You find that quality intoxicatingly attractive.

Maybe it is because your mother is just as headstrong and driven. Perhaps it is because it relieves you of the burden of making her happy. Maybe you simply like the thrill and challenge of capturing the heart of a woman who never felt a need to rest her heart in another’s hands. You see it as the ultimate test of your allure, the biggest compliment to your desirability, the grandest stroke to your ego.

You long for a woman whose day will not be ruined if you miss her calls. You find it sexy as hell that she does not depend on you for strength when life throws her shit. You would watch in admiration as she fulfills all her dreams and aspirations, content with you as just one spectator amongst many others, perhaps just granting you a VIP seat.

You want someone who has tasted heartbreak in all its torture but has valiantly left it in the annals of history. She will make the other women you’ve been with seem like girls who still believe in “happy ever afters”. The way she has wiped clean the ugly scars of her past will lure you. While the girls before let the monsters of past loves rear their ugly heads, with her you’ll find only an unshakable spirit, bolstered by the conquest of old demons. Mature and logical yet not unfeeling, she will take care of herself as if she were alone on a deserted island, self sufficient and not deficient.

She will not need you. She never has and never will. She was not born of Plato’s hermaphroditic person, needing a man to complete her. She came into this world fully equipped to find her own happiness. Unlike the others, her soul does not need a mate. She has found her soulmate in something else, even in herself. Happiness to her does not rest in the ephemeral, but in her own supreme ability to find it in everything, with or without you. If she ever accepts you, it is out of interest, like she is interested in yoga, not out of a need, like she needs air in her lungs. She has the strength of Kundera’s Sabina, never submitting her heart to the undependable fancies of passing men.

You disdain weakness and worship strength. Maybe you are helplessly attracted to such a woman because she represents what you want to be.

In your imaginary life together, you want to be just like her. You want to have the confidence that you can pick yourself up from any fall. You want to know that though your heart may be broken, it will always heal, and more quickly each time. You let the doors to your heart open but never relinquish the keys. You deal with your devils on your own, not burdening her with them and you expect the same of her. You convince yourself that if she ever loses interest, you’ll recover, sooner rather than later, and so will she. Such a contract will leave both of you to revel in the happy moments, untainted by the fear of loss conjured by past losses. You will have only the joys and if the magic ever fades, you’ll look back fondly. How idyllic…

All this must sound so depressing to most who read it. So devoid of true emotion. Many will invoke the common understanding that the beauty in love is equal parts pain and pleasure. It is equal parts solace and fear. It is equal parts self and half-self. Equal parts confidence and insecurity. They will say you’re meant to complete each other. They will tell you that mutual dependence is the foundation of love’s magic. They will assert that to love is to embrace her failings, to be her source of strength in times of weakness. They will say that love is being her home, the place where she can be herself, be vulnerable and lost, cry and be consoled, feel pain and be understood.

What do you say to all this? Do you denounce it all? Do you not also believe that love is made beautiful by dependence and weakness, made whole by needing the other more than one needs love itself?

Feel. Imagine. Think. You do. You do believe in that archetype of love. What a conundrum then, that the person you think you’ll love is not someone you’ll find love in.

This incongruence is more complex than a mere dilemma, more absurd than an internal conflict. Most accurately described, in the colloquial words of my father, “I want the cake and I want to eat it.”

But rest easy. You’re young and you’ll figure it out. It is ok to not yet know what you want. Be brave enough to admit that maybe you’re not yet responsible and mature enough to care for a vulnerable heart. You’re not selfless and giving enough to love the way you truly want to love. The ideal of love is far too distant and intangible for you to sacrifice your immediate hedonistic desires. And maybe that’s ok. But take serious note and do not forget; your unpreparedness has its consequences. Having recognized your inadequacies, you must tread lightly and go forth with caution. Do not be irresponsible with handling the hearts of others for your own ego’s sake. Do not make empty promises. Do not pretend to be ready when you’re not. Because when you’re not ready to love, you’re not entitled to the love that others have to give.

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