Day 7: Why I (Give Up) Love: Part 2

Excessive exercising in the past few days really got me tired. I couldn’t get up at 6am like I used to. This morning, for instance, I was kept in bed by the fatigue from yesterday until 10am. However, that wasn’t a problem, as I never liked to go out anyway. I always find comfort in staying in, and staying at home. Yes, I am a stay-at-home person, which is, quite surprisingly to me, something that not many people could picture me being. At home, I could write (the only thing that seems to be important to me now); I could perhaps watch television (my favorite TV shows now are whatever on NHK World Channel which I happen to be lucky to have at home); I also could listen to my music and Podcasts, and, I, of course, play my ukulele or guitar. Moreover, I could take a nap (which is good for you by the way) whenever I want. I love to bike, but at the end of the day, I’d like to come back home and have my cold glass of beer and/or a warm cup of multiple kinds of loose tea leaves that I got from many places around the planet earth.

Love is not complicated. It’s actually pretty simple. We have made it a complicated thing for one reason — we tend to think that love is about possession. It’s not; it never was; and it shall never sink that low. This form of possession, in fact, makes people feel suspicious about people around them. For instance, a question such as “are you busy today?” can simply mean “are you busy today” as a polite form of greeting — a descriptive statement — rather than “are you busy today, if not I’d like to take you out, and hit on you.” So, the answer I often got were, “I have a boyfriend,” or “I love my boyfriend,” or “sorry, I didn’t hear what you said because I was just busy with my boyfriend,” and so on. My response was usually, “your boyfriend? — did I ask you that?” simply because I didn’t expect to hear about him in the context of our conversation. Suddenly, these people wanted to show not only their ability to possess, but also their ability to speak out loud about their possessiveness which they would like to stupidly use as a protective mechanism. All I can say is that I pity them. I can’t remember how many people whom I have met — and thought we could be friends — whose names, faces, and lives I had to remove completely from my memory because of how they answered my “are you busy today” question. In fact, the worst is that these people are feeling proud to be possessed, owned, as objects of men whom they call boyfriends because they falsely believe that loves will last, and that they will get to call them boyfriends for life. What’s the difference between a friend and a boyfriend? Perhaps, friends don’t touch each other genitals — perhaps? But the relationship as such is completely fragile and vulnerable because there is nothing that ties them together legally, religiously, or politically. Perhaps, they’re tied together financially, and, probably in most case, by their insatiable need to gluttonously engage in coitus, which, in this sense, it sounds pretty good to have a stable partner from whom you could always ask for sex without having to pay, or to be worried about how the society think about them.

I would respect it if someone tell me that she has a husband, since the husband and wife bond is both legal, political, and committal. That information, in fact, will allow me to draw the line between her and me, in the way that would benefit both of us. But, a boyfriend? isn’t this, simply, absurd? The irony here is that these people (who love to go think of themselves as possessing someone else and reciprocally being owned) pride themselves on their traditional moral ethics (usually of purity), and suddenly simply by calling some one “a boyfriend,” they could simply have sex as much as they please without having to worried about either the consequences of their action, or the moral duty that they have toward their own bodies, toward their communities, parents, and social circles who might be worried about them for not being careful regarding this rather physically dangerous matter.

Seriously. Don’t you think it’s awkward to think that when I say something as simple as “are you busy today” I would mean more than its literal meaning — simply because I am a man who may have the capacity to seduce you? I find this form of possessiveness repulsive, and I find these kinds of people pitiful and not worth having a life.

I have given up love because I had been through so many failed attempts to genuinely love someone. I had dreamed of one of those platonic loves  purely based on the mutual and intellectual respect that each has for the other, and not on possession. I was reading Kant on his take on sex the other day. For Kant, it’s immoral to have sex if the two people have not gotten married. I am quoting Michael Sandel from his best-selling book Justice here:

Casual sex is objectionable, he thinks, because it is all about the satisfaction of sexual desire, not about respect for the humanity of one’s partner.

That is, the prerequisite of sex here is marriage, which is a commitment that the act of sexual intercourse from then on will be exclusive to only these two committed people. So, for Kant, coitus that is not performed in the name of commitment to procreate, approved by law, is immoral because it lacks the kind of commitment that affirms the essence of a moral human being who wouldn’t be treating each other as if he/she is “a means to an end” — and that end is the satisfaction of sexual desire.

Fine. I want to agree with Kant so much here, but I could not because he did not say much (or anything at all) about how and why he believed that the institution of marriage is moral, and not about abusive control of women because, often if not always, the institution of marriage appears to undermine true love. My personal dilemma with this issue was when I faced the question of what to do when I had to chose between 1) getting married in the name of love (but for no reason because no one has provided me with a convincing reason yet); and 2) loving someone for the reason that love “was the reason.” I feel that treating love as a reason to be with someone, and therefore let the expression of love, whatever it may be, lead to the desire to express love in the present seems “way more Kantian” than treating marriage as an institution that conveniently provides a moral platform to express love. This is another reason why I hate tradition. Many people I know — including the ones that are considered very smart by the standard of the world we’re living in — allows tradition to keep them under the self-imposed sense of immaturity. They never asked why they did what they did when it’s about marriage, and they just did it because “it seemed right to do so.” I don’t think marriage makes any sense as long as getting divorce is an option, but that’s just me.

I also think that if two people want to be together, 1)why do the two people need to inform others that they are doing in “legally”, and 2) why do they need to feel that they possess each other. I think true love is not about possession. It never was and it should never be about possession. True love might not have to be absolutely platonic or romantically existentialist as in the case of open marriage between Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre (although I must admit that which would be the kind of love with which I would like to associate myself), but it at least has to be based on the mutual interest in the well-being of one another. In my life, I have seen so many people who were great friends to one another became deep enemies afterwards because of the failed marriage, and guess what, often the root of their problems was over-possessiveness. If I’d ever like to possess something of someone I love, that would be her love to not wanting to possess me and vice versa. The only kind of marriage that will last is the union of two people who respect one another. There are so many marriages that last because the two people in it don’t want to get out of it because they couldn’t think of life otherwise. That’s not what I would like to think as a marriage, but a chain that tie both of them to the pretentiousness that there is such happiness in their non-mutual relationship.

Sex is often seen as a way of possession your loved one. In a Kantian view, that kind of sex isn’t bad because possessiveness is moral. Just to be clear, true love — or the only kind of love that works and will last — should be intellectual, mutual, and non-possessive. When love become stupid, one-sided, and possessive, it’s time to let it go, and that’s why I did.

Everything, however, has a caveat. Tonight, I got to know a new friend who shared with me his life history. This, by the way, happened in my waking life. This new friend of mine told me that he got married to his primary school sweetheart, with whom he got to know when she was 12, which was the same age as he was then. He told me that they didn’t date until the very last year of their high school, which was the time when they were both 18. Now, they’re “happily married” with three kids: two two boys and a daughter. We were at the dinner table when this topic was brought up, and, of course, the question for me was “What about you?”

Although I replied with confidence that I was single, a part of me felt sick to my stomach.

What’s it that made me sick that way? Me — a man who has been writing about how he cherishes the platonic non-possessive love between Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre? Could it be the case that I was jealous of this new friend’s happy marriage? Perhaps. I still could not tell. I always critique the convention, and always want to prove that I have much better solutions for the society, by living my life in the way that I believe to be demonstrative of those solutions. For instance, when it comes to love, I’d like to live a life of a “non-possessive lover,” who believes that he shall only love a woman because of her ability to think, and not her ability to make herself pretty, and such form of love from a non-possessive lover should not chain to her last name, or my dignity because the last thing I would do to a woman is to objectify her as if she is not a human being. That’s how I see possessive love. That said, when it comes to the very basic thing in life, such as the matter or having someone who is going to be your companion for life, and, more important than anything else, “love you unconditionally,” I just don’t know how to respond. On the one hand, of course, I want everyone I love to love me unconditionally. On the other hand, I know that ain’t possible. But deep down, and deep down, I also want to be loved. Not just to be loved, I also want to be loved “unconditionally,” and it would be nice to have someone who feels that way about me. And often that only happens when two people are bonded by a legal (and sometimes religious) means such as marriage. I know that my mother (and also my father when he was still alive) would give me that — the unconditional love — but even that, I still want to be loved by another woman, who doesn’t want anything from me except my love. I love my mother, but, as we know, our love for our mothers is different from the love we would have for someone who is in the same generation as ours. I might appear to many as a “strong liberal man” who is critical about the convention of the society as though I don’t give a damn about it, but at the end of the day, I also want to be loved. I want to replicate the kind of love that Simone de Beauvoir had for Jean-Paul Sartre. I don’t want to be possessed, but I want to be loved — unconditionally.


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