Is Love Essential? Complete Version

By: S. Davis

Is love essential?

The nature of this question is specific to romantic, familial and platonic, friendly love. Maybe I’ll expand this further as it kept me from sleeping last night and it remains in the forefront of my mind.

So I’ve sat with this question swimming around in my brain (and in my heart) and I’m still unsure if there’s a real answer. Maybe that’s the point, wait, why am I even attempting to answer this? I don’t know. However I’m aware that, for some reason, I cannot shake it off. Clarity may prove to be elusive here.

Clear warning: This may not be a focused piece because I’m sifting through the forest in my mind, so to speak. Click on another page if this disturbs you. I don’t know where this will take me, or you, shall you decide to join me.

About two weeks ago I was on my way home when I encountered a mother with her two young children, an affectionate couple, a fighting couple and several groups of friends. Subconsciously, I’m certain this is where the seed was planted, emotionally, for this subject.

The mother was laughing hysterically at her kids’ singing while down the block a couple seemed on the verge of breaking up with one of them leaned against a car, arms folded, and barely making eye contact. Contrast that vision with a guy running across the street – through a green light in fact – to get to the other side in order to wrap his girlfriend/wife/fiancée in a movie-worthy embrace. (It was a great sight.) Then I walked past a few groups of friends laughing and having a great time.

I asked myself do I miss my friends? Do I miss my family? Do I miss being involved romantically? Quickly I brushed them aside because they didn’t feel relevant once the concept of love made its way into my thoughts. My brain didn’t get the memo, I guess.

Is love essential?

One after another I examined the relationships I witnessed in the span of four city blocks: A family, a couple, and a group of friends. These are the three major kinds of love that most of us strive to have or feel gives us a complete life. Some research on the types of love, citing Ancient Greeks, say there are six types – or four – depending on what you find. They are Eros, Ludos, Storge, Pragma, Mania and Agape. Another is Phileo which share traits with Pragma according to some texts but that’s not my point here.

Familial love is where I will begin this exploration. In my personal experience it is essential but you can manage fine without it. I share a bond with some of my select family members but I wouldn’t shed a tear if other blood relatives died tonight. (I didn’t say this would be an easy read.) I would not care at all. There is a frosty and emotionless part of my personality that came to be in my pre-teens for which I’ve come to accept and, at times, admire. I’m fully aware that circumstances of my childhood are the reason for this more than it being a character trait that would have occurred organically.

But what is familial love? What if you feel close to someone like a cousin, sibling, aunt, uncle but you don’t feel that you love them? Does that exist and can it be quantified? You can care about someone and not love them, right? Is that possible? Maybe I’m wrong – for which I’m fine with. I just want more information because I’m smart about seeking answers for things I may not know.

People in my family that society, history, or God says I should love are question marks to me. Some I just don’t feel that way about – or maybe it’s just a different feeling that I interpret in a personal level, in a way familiar to me but foreign to most. It could be singular to me but I doubt that it is. However I do feel that I process the emotion of love – and whatever it means – in a special way.

I’ve seen women, that shouldn’t EVER be in charge of pets pop out kids as easy as breathing first thing in the morning. I know men who drop sperm into women and keep moving through life fully aware that they have kids on this planet that they purposely ignore – and don’t contribute in their rearing. Does love exist there?

At the beach a few months back I heard this woman say to a friend: “I want to have a child because I’m lonely.” No judgment here but should anyone procreate to fill a void of loneliness? If she goes through with it, isn’t that truly selfish? Genetically, humans are inclined to procreate but what is the true nature of the love – or the mother-child bond – if the child is meant to fill a need for companionship? Is that love essential?

Love is thrown around so callously that it has no meaning. Its affect and standing in life has been cheapened. There’s no way to love everything and everyone at the same time because if you do what sets the truly important apart? I care about a lot of people but I only love a select few. The exact number is really small but it has been consistent for most of my life. Upon deep reflection I feel – and I’m almost certain – that I only have about one-to-three open spots remaining to express love. I’m guessing they’re reserved for the woman who becomes my wife and any children she may want – and the woman I date after we get divorced. (It is a goal of mine to make sure I never wear a “baby daddy” title.)

Friendly/platonic love is one that can blend into familial depending on the relationship. Personally, most of the people for which I share no blood relation at all come from this group. Most of the spots in my heart are filled by people I’ve encountered as friends who have morphed into family.

Being that my original family has been depleted, I find myself in an odd position when I consider what it means to have one. Simultaneously, I’m tied to several different families but at the same time I feel like I’m not an official member of any. I’m connected and adrift depending on the day – or time of year. A good deal of culpability rests with me as I tend to isolate myself. I’ve always found comfort in solitude. Maybe I’ll be truly rooted to a family that I create, if that’s in the cards. I’m single, never married and I do not have children – and I don’t yearn to be a father.

Why does a pit form in your stomach when someone utters “I love you” but you don’t feel the same way? What in the world is that odd phenomenon? Do people declare it just so they can receive it in return? There’s a part of me that will always be mystified by love, specifically the romantic kind. I’ve loved three women up to this point in my life, three. In those relationships I do feel that I have a good idea of what love should be…maybe. Additionally, how do you adequately describe the Love vs. In Love distinction? Another odd wrinkle that makes me laugh (or scream).

As I examine the original question, I find the answer to be elusive. Maybe that’s the point. I reckon the answer is relative to the individual daring to ask it of themselves. It’s beneficial mentally, physically, emotionally and psychologically to have valuable personal connections but it’s the love portion of the equation that’s bewildering.

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