I think it is fairly reasonable to suggest that a large majority of people have encountered the phrase, “Love Is Love,” to some capacity, whether in passing or as some fundamental axiom in their lives. In the context that we are used to seeing it, as in referring to romance and sex between partners who fall outside the atypical female/male couplings, I have no problem with it. For example, I think love between two men or two women is as valid a force as that between a man and a woman. Obviously other folk take that further and apply it to the varying other gender identities and sexual orientations that they invent seemingly on the daily, and that’s no nevermind to me, except perhaps the danger of taking an open-ended, vague enough phrase like Love Is Love to an inappropriate, unreasonable extreme, as some are wont to do.
Recently, however, I discovered another way of looking at and applying this phrase to my life. That is, the notion of a generalized love and affection for another human being, that may include but is not necessarily dependent on having any romantic or sexual ties to them. It’s the idea that you truly love someone and will sacrifice something you value for their betterment, even if you stand to gain nothing. I think perhaps this is what parents, good parents, feel for their children on some deep level, though as I am not a parent I can’t completely substantiate that proposition. It’s the notion of selfless love, let’s call it, where you are not attempting to establish ownership over another or manipulate them in some passive way by guilting them into returning your sacrifice with one in kind. It can be a self-destructive force, as if you are too agreeable and too willing to sacrifice any and everything for someone else, you risk turning yourself into a martyr that brings down everything around them. So, I don’t see any nobility in reckless love that ultimately destroys one party (excepting extreme examples of a parent stepping in front of a bullet for their child, or some such). However, I have discovered that there are senses of fulfillment, of meaning, of intrinsic worth in the service of someone else, by choice, mind you, not by means of coercion, force, mandate, or manipulation. I have found that there is some bettering of my own life if I can make someone else’s a little better, at my own moderated pain or inconvenience, or at the very least, if I can somehow reduce the amount of misery they are currently experiencing.
The crux of my point here, is that I have come to think of Love Is Love in a new way (to me), as in, love is beautiful and powerful and a motivating force for good, when it is divorced from or is at least properly integrated with sexual greed, and when it is able to create rather than destroy (unless that which is destroyed is something malevolent and useless). Now, in fairness to myself, as someone high in agreeableness, who enjoys feeling deeply connected to my network of people despite being introverted, whose love language is touch, and who keenly feels the void left from not having established my own extended household, as it were, love is especially painful as much as it is rewarding. Times have drastically changed, and we as people are highly fragmented. Not just politically or ideologically, but in our everyday interactions. I am lucky to get so much as a text from a highly select minority of people I know on any given day. At least in America and particularly my corner of it, the senses of community, family, and interconnectedness (the real kind, not the fake version peddled by social media) are shattered beyond belief. Perhaps it’s no wonder that so many disillusioned youth become conscripted into identity politics, desperate and starved as they are for feeling connected and having purpose. So, therefore, daring to experience and share love for another in times like these feels especially taxing, more than that, instinctively more than it is supposed to be.
Love Is Love, however, and no matter how much it hurts, how frightening it may be to expose that vulnerability, I can’t truly fathom a reality in which I see that abandoning love is an option. Even if it is not returned in kind.