Credit: Deposit photo

At last, it’s February, the month of love, the month where we show our partners and friends how much we care for them by giving flowers, chocolate, and extravagant gifts. We say I love you with cards and dinners in fancy restaurants. This month puts a spotlight on our relationships, or lack of one. I was taught from a young age to seek out a partner in life and BuyingCredit: Deposit Photocreate a family, and I would find supreme happiness. That admonition to find joy through a family never rang true for me. It felt like love means you give up everything you want for some arbitrary “greater good.” I had a vision of my life being swallowed up in the life of my partner and subsequent offspring. I would be trapped in a prison of my own creation. 

So in the interest of freedom, I have avoided romantic relationships like the plague. I’ve played at love a little, but I always find (or manufacture) a fatal flaw in the other, so I am able to justify destroying any possibility of a relationship lasting longer than a tired yawn.

I just finished watching the movie I Am by Tom Shadyac, who had a reawakening after a brush with death. He realized that happiness comes down to what you believe, and if you try to gain happiness through the rules of your culture, religion, or anyone who claims they know the secret to happiness, you will quickly fail to secure that feeling.

The question then popped into my mind, “How do I define romantic love?” My chest started to hurt, and I felt rising panic when I started to picture what a relationship would be like. I felt that love means I must restrict myself, and I must create rules to restrict someone else. Luckily enough my culture has rules already in place so I don’t have to create too many new limits on a partner.

1. I am the only one you love and behavior I construe as unfaithful gives me the right to encroach on your freedom even more.

2. You must not change because that makes me feel insecure.

3. You need to change because certain things about you don’t serve my needs.

4. You need to go away when I feel like you’re cramping my style.

5. You need to be there for me when I need you, but I won’t communicate my need, you will simply need to know and act appropriately i.e. bring me food, take me on a trip, stand on your head in a myriad of ways until I feel better.

6. You love the people I love. If you forget this remember rule number five.

7. My happiness is dependent on you so don’t screw up.

HeartsCredit: Deposit photosIs it any wonder with the preceding beliefs, I have avoided romantic attachment? To bridge this gap in my soul, I have decided to try to redefine what love means to me, and it boils down to one word, freedom. Whoa, wait, Freedom? You mean I should let my partner be who they are? Won’t they go berserk and do all kinds of things to hurt me? Maybe, but then there is always love to be received from someone else. Love as I have supposed it to be means, there is a famine of love in the world. There is only one soul mate in the world who will heal my emotional wounds, and make me feel complete.

That’s the logic that keeps me in the loop of believing that there’s one person out there who’s soul mission is to trap me with affection, and then tether me to a life sentence in the prison of love. (See rules above.)

How then to be free and in a relationship? Yes, it is a bit of a conundrum, but I believe there is always an answer to questions. Maybe even new rules are the answer.

1. We are allowed to come together.

2. We are allowed to separate.

3. I am responsible for my happiness.

That’s a tremendous amount of freedom, and our culture teaches that if we give too much freedom, there is chaos, or maybe it’s like that cheesy quote, “If you love someone, let them go, if they don’t come back you never had them anyway.”

HeartsCredit: Deposit PhotoIt kind of makes me thinks it’s not really worth getting into a romantic relationship. I’m free to do whatever I want with my time, money, and living space. I guess it will come down to meeting someone who shows me that being with them makes me feel even more free. Until then, I think I’ll cheerfully watch from the sidelines.

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