Love as Play

chemistry of love
I spent a couple of hours after work recently with a sweet friend I hadn’t seen in a couple of months. We talked mostly, as is my wont these days, about love, conversation and community. Since she is polyamorous, I had the rare luxury of bouncing some of the criticisms and doubts about the lifestyle of loving many people, off someone who supports that lifestyle — usually I’m the one defending it against skeptics.

While many of these criticisms and doubts are, I think, borne of misunderstanding (or even fear), there are two that, from my perspective, have some validity. So I asked Lea (not her real name):

How do I know that my passion for simultaneously loving a lot of people isn’t a rationalization of either:

  1. An insecurity about losing love, such that I want to have some other loves ‘in reserve’ to ‘fall back on’ (the ‘safety in numbers’ doubt), or
  2. An addiction to the hormonal rush of phenylethylamine, dopamine, neopinephrine and oxytocin that accompanies ‘falling in love’, overwhelms us during the first stages of new love, and which, in any one relationship, mellows over time and is  replaced with the more contented but less ecstatic feeling from endorphins (the ‘addicted to love’ doubt)?

I was willing to confess both insecurity and addiction, but Lea’s answer was What difference does it make? Why does it matter why polyamorous people are driven to love many others instead of just one? So what if it reflects insecurity, or addiction, or both?

She’s right. What was making me defensive, I think, is that I’ve known people who have kept lovers ‘in reserve’ because they’re deeply neurotic, perhaps as a result of devastating pain after loss of a love so severe that they swore they would never allow themselves to suffer that way again. And, I’ve known people whose addiction to love (not the same thing as sex addiction, although some people can have both) has been very hurtful to the people they ‘drop’ as soon as the euphoria of the early-love hormonal cocktail starts to wear off.

But I know myself well enough to know I’m not neurotic, or even particularly insecure (I think we all have insecurities, but my big ego tends to overcome my insecurities most of the time). And I think I’m sensitive enough that I would not knowingly or deliberately hurt or abandon anyone in the ebb and flow of my passion for them. I believe in complete honesty in relationships, and not making promises or commitments without being positive of being able to live up to them. I believe we are capable of loving many without, in the process, diminishing our love for any one.

Most of all, though, my passion for polyamorism is because it’s just fun. Most of us get too little fun in our lives. For so many, everything we do is serious (even games, for so many, are such a terribly serious endeavour!), and for so many, everything we do is work, struggle, effort. Perhaps I’m lazy, but at this point in my life, and believing what I do, I don’t want to work that hard. Love is conversation (from the Latin meaning turning with) and I love moving with, exploring with, other people. Love is play, and I love to play.

Just to be clear, my love for Lea, and hers for me, are not erotic. She’s too young for me and my ‘paternal’ feelings for her would make any kind of relationship of that kind just feel entirely wrong. She’s an amazing young woman who has accomplished a remarkable amount in her life strictly by her own wits, talents and character and I am immensely proud of her. And she is remarkably courageous in her exploration of love and her openness to it, and in that sense she is a great inspiration to me and a sounding board for my thoughts and feelings. She will forever have a place in my heart.

I said I was through talking about polyamorism on this blog, but as I keep saying, a principal purpose of my writing is to think out loud, to sort things out in my own mind. I’m through trying to persuade people that loving many others is a more natural way to live. But Lea’s words, and her own life experiences, have persuaded me even more that it’s a possible way to live, one that need not be that difficult, and a joyful and healthy way to live.

If you could see my smile, the one I show all the time, and which some people recognize and others are blind to, you would know that I’m not crazy, or dangerous, or wasting time that should be spent on more serious, urgent pursuits. I’ve found my better way to live. Love, conversation, community. Easy, responsive and responsible, sustainable, and fun. The way life should be. You don’t like that model, that’s fine, show me another that works better. I’m listening, I’m paying attention, I’m open to suggestion. Help me imagine the possibilities you see, and I’ll helpyou imagine mine. Playfully.

Category: Human Nature
This entry was posted in Our Culture / Ourselves. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Love as Play

  1. Mariella says:

    my question is ¿why do we “choose” unplayfull lives? according to Pollard´s law… ¿Why isn´t being playfull a “must”?

  2. samcandide says:

    I don’t think you need to defend your “thinking out loud.” Anticipating criticism just redirects the energy you need to keep that process going.

Comments are closed.