The love I feel for people isn’t romantic, isn’t sexual, certainly isn’t mother-child love. But it’s powerful and strong and consuming. It makes me care for people, and worry about them and admire them and respect them. I’d call it platonic, but I feel like it’s more significant than that. It makes me want to hug people and be close to them and share parts of their lives. But I’ve learnt to be a bit more wary of showing that, because of the way those feelings don’t belong to the dominant paradigm of real love. Because I don’t want to send the wrong message, or lead someone on.
It’s hard sometimes, because I always feel like I’m on a different level to everyone else. I can’t lie – sometime I just wish that someone would return my feelings exactly the same way. Sometimes I find myself longing for the trappings of a traditional romantic relationship – the commitment, the affection, the cuddles, the knowledge that someone loves you and values you – but without the actual romantic part.
Society teaches us that we must take either the “whole package” or leave it completely and be alone for the rest of our lives. It doesn’t consider the fact that you can have parts of the package without wanting or needing the rest. And it doesn’t value love that falls outside the paradigm.
I think there is more to love than a couple of standard forms. There is love that is romantic, there is love that is sexual, there is love that is between parents and children, and love for or between people who are neither. I don’t feel like I can give up loving people the way I do, and I don’t want to. But thinking about real love as only coming in one or two shapes and forms , and valuing those forms over everything else is marginalising and hurtful.
I don’t doubt that there are many people who do find romantic love to be the most important thing to them, something special that nothing else can compare to. But that is not the only way of loving that there is.