Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Kaelah's Corner (Jul 2014):
What is Love?

Welcome, everybody, to a very belated edition of Kaelah's Corner. At the beginning of this year, I wrote a post about the influence that being kinky might have on the issue of finding a mate. This post was supposed to be the first one of a series of posts about different aspects of kink and relationships. As you can see, it took me quite a while to come up with the next one, but here it finally is.

Today's post is about the question what love is all about and how kink and sexuality are related to love. For me, it was a very tough question under what condition it was okay for me to say to Ludwig that I love him. That might sound weird to some of you. But I have been raised with a strict rule stating that lying is bad, especially concerning important things and to those people who are close to you. Now, love definitely is an important issue and I didn't want to tell Ludwig that I love him without being 100 per cent sure that he could rely on my words.

Funnily, the question never really came up until I met Ludwig. For instance, I have always been sure that I love my parents, simply because they are my parents and because they gave their best when raising me and took good care. But, I figured, love between mates was something different. One important difference between a mate and friends or relatives for me was that mates are having sex with each other and feel lust for each other. Plus, I thought, love for a mate should mean that he is the most important person on Earth for me, the one I most long for and most want to spend time with. It took some time after Ludwig and I met until I had the feeling that those requirements were met so that I could truly and rightfully tell Ludwig that I love him. But, was my definition of love between mates really correct?

As you know, Ludwig and I met through this blog and our kink, so spanking and sexuality played an important role in our relationship right from the beginning. But, there was much more than that. When I read his blog posts and we started exchanging mails, it was Ludwig's ability to look at things from different perspectives, his kindness and his care that made me feel understood and safe and made me want to meet him in person. In addition to that, we soon found out that we liked similar music, humour and more. Soon, Ludwig became a friend which for me was the basis for letting him introduce me into the world of spanking.

In our very first play, we listed the virtues our relationship was based on: openness and honesty, honour and respect, trust and responsibility, bravery (and pain, after all, this was kinky play). Our long talks revealed that we also had compatible ideas about, for instance, politics, ethics, work-life-balance, raising a family and sharing workloads between partners. At that time I was still a practising Christian and Ludwig an agnostic. Today we are both atheists, so that difference has gone as well.  All these aspects played an important role for my decision to become Ludwig's mate because they gave me the feeling that we had a good chance to build a happy, stable, well-working long-term relationship.

From today's perspective I would say that the requirements which from my view had to be fulfilled in order to rightfully state that I love Ludwig as my mate only focussed on very small aspects of what love can be. Plus, in a long-term relationship they can't be met all the time. In a long-term relationship the partners don't always feel lust for each other. One also doesn't always long for one's mate the most and doesn't always want to spend time with them. Alone time and time with others is important as well. That doesn't mean one doesn't love one's partner, though.

The German relationship counsellor Michael Mary distinguishes three forms of love which could be labelled as partnership, friendship and passionate love. Here is how he describes them:

Partnership is the basis for joint projects, for example, starting a family or a company, or coping with the daily life together. Negotiations, compromises, reliability, and the balance of benefits play a major role here.

Friendship lives through voluntary good deeds. A friend leaves his or her partner to be as he or she is, and expects the same from him. The central aspects for this kind of love are sympathy, respect and accepting one's partner as they are.

The emotional / passionate love lives off the mutual confirmation and encounter in intimate areas, such as sexuality, or individuality. Lovers give each other the feeling to be meant and loved in all aspects of their personality. In this love, feelings are most important, because one can not consciously choose whom one loves in this way, the decision is made by one's unconscious mind.

In his books, Michael Mary states that the three forms of love don't necessarily support each other. Quite the contrary, often they are contradictory. For instance, passionate love requires a certain level of distance between partners to increase the longing for each other. Too much distance doesn't go well with building a house, raising kids and sharing daily responsibilities, though. Sharing daily responsibilities also means making compromises and giving up a certain amount of personal freedom. That contradicts the field of friendship which requires partners to accept each other as they are and give each other lots of space for individual growth. Which is why the three forms of love usually can't all be similarly strong in a relationship, at least not at a certain point in time.

The thing is that today's media and many life counselling books try to make us believe that our love relationship(s) have to be perfect in all three aspects, that “real” love requires an A+ in all three fields. Which can lead to a lot of uncertainty and disappointment. It can make us feel inadequate. The message is: If your relationship doesn't work extraordinarily well in all fields, it means you haven't worked hard enough to make it happen.

Reality shows us that this is utter nonsense. I think this becomes very obvious in our kinky community as well. Some fellow kinksters say that they have a partner whom they love very dearly and have a great relationship with but who doesn't share their sexual kink. For others, kink and sex are very important in their relationship(s), but they don't share all aspects of their daily lives with their partner(s), keeping a certain level of distance between them feeding the longing for each other.

In Ludwig's and my relationship the three aspects aren't always similarly strong, either. In the beginning, we were still in the process of discovering each other and the passionate love played a very important role every time we had the chance to spend a few days with each other. Now that we know each other very well, our talks have become even more intimate than they were at the beginning of our relationship. We also have started to build a life together and share more responsibilities with each other. Our love is about much more than kink and sex. And even if the sexual thrill right now is less strong than it was in the very beginning (especially since we are both under lots of stress at the moment), that doesn't mean we don't love each other. Sometimes the different fields of love support each other. Sometimes they are contradictory. For instance, when I am feeling weak and burned out, Ludwig focusses on caring for me and supporting me as a friend and partner. This reduces his desire to have kinky sex with me and live out his sadistic fantasies.

Sometimes Ludwig and I both focus on the same aspect of love at the same time. Sometimes we have different needs and desires. That's the time when I easily start doubting that I can rightfully and truly say that I love Ludwig, because I still have my "old" requirements in mind. Can I really say I love him, when he wants to have sex and I don't? Can I really say I love him, when I realise that I want some alone time or time with friends? Can I really say I love him, when I find other men attractive? From what I now know about love I can. But still the feeling of inadequacy and doubt often remains.

Michael Mary's advice is to appreciate the kind of love and the love relationship one has, instead of always focussing on the things that aren't perfect. Ludwig and I have a very special love relationship in many different respects and I think we have a good chance of making it a very long-lasting one.

How about you? What does love mean for you? What are the most important aspects of love which you share in your relationship(s)? And how is the kink correlated to love for you? I look forward to reading your thoughts in the comment section!


Gustofur said...

Dr. of Economics, Master of English Essay, Philosopher, Kinkster, what's not to love. I am afraid if I analyzed myself as deeply as you have yourself, I would be traumatized. Keep up the excellent discussion.

Anonymous said...

Here is my very iodiocyncratic opinion on what is love?

My first love happened to me, I didn't choose it, I didn't even necessarily want it. Cupid's arrow chose me and despite that man leaving me twice, and hurridly marrying other women twice, I still can't help but have strong feelings towards him. First time deep mourning for loss, second time deep anger for deception with loss.

The second time I knew love, it felt partly like a decision I made and partly like fate had stepped in and forced our inevitable pairing, We seemed so compatible, so well suited for each other, similar taste, similar interests, similar values, similar background. And yet there was some vital lack of passion to please each other, and most crucially, a lack of trust that started out as a small crack dividing us, and quickly grew into a chasm we were unable to span across, unable to ever reach each other again.

So what is love?

In my mind true love is more like the love parents have for children, it is unaffected by the behavior of the children, instead its a deep desire to respect, please, and look after the children; keep them safe from harm.

Likewise I think true romantic love is devotion for a partner so deep that the lover protects the one he loves from pain as much as he can. The lover treats the beloved with kindness and patience because she wants him to stay with her always. The lover eschews other temptations because he knows any disloyalty will cause pain, and he empathizes with her too deeply to subject
her to a situation of such love-less cruelty.

Maybe over-stated but that has been my experience; as well as my speculation.

Kaelah said...

Thank you! I'm not so sure how good my analysis really is, though. I'm learning new things about life and about myself every day...

@ Anonymous:
Thank you very much for your thoughtful comment and for sharing your experiences with love! I'm sad to hear that you lost love twice. Many of the things you said about love and the way it shows resonate with me.

The only thing I might add is that I find it important to not only care for others and protect them. In my opinion, love also involves taking good care of oneself and one's own needs as well. Otherwise the loved ones around us can't really trust that we are okay and capable of looking after ourselves. I think this can become a heavy burden for a partner who then always has to anticipate what's best for his or her partner as well instead of simply knowing that the partner will know and say what's good for him or her and what isn't.