Depth of Feeling
I uncovered a feeling inside
and gave it a name – Love
and somehow it came to be.
Try to efface it
and you'll find, behind the mask,
pheromonal and naked,
a deeper expression
and another name...
2 February 1984
Love has, for a long time, been my whipping boy. It’s a word I loathe. I have no problems with the emotion—I’ve felt in many times and in many ways—but that’s really the problem. The Greeks are supposed to have a word for everything. In the case of love most of us know four: agápe (love of humanity), éros (erotic love although, oddly enough, the term incorporates Platonic love), philia (shared experience, or brotherly love) and storgē (love of family). There’s a fifth, epithumia, the Greek word for strong desire, which can have either a positive or negative connotation; the positive connotation is usually translated ‘strong desire’ while the negative connotation is usually translated ‘lust’. There’s also philautia, self-love or self-respect. Again it comes in two flavours: the unhealthy variety is associated with narcissism—you became self-obsessed and focused on personal fame and fortune—whereas the healthier version enhances your wider capacity to love.
In 1973 John Alan Lee identified six basic love styles—also known as “colours” of love—that people use in their interpersonal relationships. According to Wikipedia:
Eros – is a passionate physical and emotional love of wanting to satisfy, create sexual contentment, security and aesthetic enjoyment for each other, it also includes creating sexual security for the other by striving to forsake options of sharing one's intimate and sexual self with outsiders.
Ludus – This style is used by those who see love as a desiring to want to have fun with each other, to do activities indoor and outdoor, tease indulge and play harmless pranks on each other. The acquisition of love and attention itself may be part of the game.
Storge – This style of love grows slowly out of friendship and is based more on similar interests and a commitment to one another rather than on passion.
Pragma – This love style is based on the perceptions of practicality. People who prefer this style approach their relationship in a "business-like" fashion and look for partners with whom they can share common goals.
Mania – This style usually flows out of a desire to hold one's partner in high esteem and wanting to love and be loved in this way seeing specialness in the interaction.
Agape – In this style of love one derives one's definition of love in being altruistic towards one's partner and feeling love in the acts of doing so. The person is willing to endure difficulty that arises from the partner's circumstance. It is based on an unbreakable commitment and an unconditional, selfless love.
Where does puppy love fit into all this? Maybe limerence, a term coined by the psychologist Dorothy Tennov and defined as a state of mind which results from a romantic attraction to another person typically including compulsive thoughts and fantasies and a desire to form or maintain a relationship and have one's feelings reciprocated.
In my poem I don’t name the name. To this day I couldn’t tell you how I loved F. It wasn’t a simple love. I was attached to her. I still am. Which brings us neatly to attachment theory. And that opens up a whole other can of worms. In my first novel, Living with the Truth, Truth explains to Jonathan how he’s loved:
Truth touched his fingertips together one at a time before answering: “Well, falling in love is easy. It takes no effort at all. You’ve done that.”
“I feel a ‘but’ coming.”
“But... true love, which is what you’re on about, is volitional, not emotional.”
“I don’t get you.” This was going to be difficult.
“Love—even the word—is a soft cushion to rest your feelings on, fancy wrapping paper, sugar coated good ol’ fashioned desire half the time; lust made respectable. You see there’s real love and there’s cathexis.”
“Well it’s love, too, but it’s more a what-can-you-do-for-me kind of love rather than a what-can-I-do-for you sort.” [Cathexis is the investment of emotional significance in an activity.]
“You’re telling me I’ve never known real love?”
“I’m telling you you’ve never known real love.”
Did I really love F.? I wrote the above a few months after we’d separated. How applicable to me that is I honestly couldn’t say. It’s all foggy now.