The word “love” is likely one of the most confusing words for people to get a handle on. It’s one word, but it’s loaded with a whole lot of, often contradictory meaning, implication and expression. It was literally thousands of years ago that the Greeks broke love down into essentially 4 categories. These were Agape, Eros, Philia and Storge. As you can see, they cover a pretty broad range. It often gets more complicated when you get deeper into the romantic love aspect though, doesn’t it? Specifically, when the idea of child-rearing is added to the mix. Many simply settle into a comfort zone that may or may not truly suite them. They never asking the question, “How could I love more fully and honestly in my life?”
In spite of what the typical modern Christian ideology wants to believe, people throughout history have found ways of blurring the lines of more traditional relationships and making it work, both as partners and as parents. One such example is polyamory. This is a subject I’ll go into in greater detail from my own observations in another article. But if you’re immediately curious I’ve linked to this great article written by a Tantrica by the name of Shakti in South Africa.
Something I have noticed throughout my life is that one of the byproducts of monogamy is an almost primal sense of ownership of one’s partner. As if a person was a thing and not, as they actually are, a sentient human being. History, of course, is rife with this in much more extreme forms. Often what goes hand and hand with this ownership mentality is a kind of parentifying of the partner. This shows itself in one partner feeling as though they must ask permission to engage with people or in activities that they feel drawn to. They ask permission instead of having a mutual discussion about what each partner feels an interest in exploring openly, and how to achieve what both are seeking from an empowered place.
This is not to take anything away from people who have consciously chosen to be monogamous for as long as it naturally works for both parties. A friend of mine once dubbed what our generation mostly engages in as serial monogamy. To my observation, her description was dead on. For me, the idea of ownership and possession that comes with the idea of monogamous romantic love never really made sense. I think there were spiritual reasons for this but I was also influenced by the nature of my childhood. I have certainly felt jealousy myself but never to the degree that I have observed in others. For me the idea of jealousy seems a very primal and brutish emotion and I can’t see how it serves anyone’s higher good. It’s certainly not one to be given energy or emphasis if one wants to maintain healthy relationships.
I feel though that I had been given perhaps an unfair advantage at an early age given the fact that people I loved moved in and out of my life on a regular basis. This was not romantic love, mind you, but for some reason the non-attachment habit transferred over. I actually don’t find an exaggerated sense of attachment to people, places or things much of a challenge. Much of this I would say comes from my non-dualistic thinking but much of that may have been motivated by my own childhood as an adaptive method for dealing with what I perceived as loss at the time.
What I have discovered is that the traditional teachings of Tantra are very helpful in giving people (myself included) tools to reprogram themselves to overcome the challenges of primal mind thinking, including those related to our notions of love. This is the very mind that causes one undue suffering when it comes to their relationships with others and, more importantly, with themselves. Dr. Helen Fisher discusses love from a very scientific point of view, which I think is also helpful, to get perspective on what chemical alchemy is taking place in our brains during the process of falling in and out of love.
Below you’ll find a small but specifically chosen list of books I have found to be extremely good at communicating the various complexities of the love game. Should you have the gumption to actually go through this list I think you’ll find a greater capacity to see through what your chemical mind is trying to do in a way that is empowering for you. That being said, I know that mere head knowledge of a subject is never enough, especially for this one. One must integrate knowledge, allow it to permeate their cells, and ultimately it becomes a bodily wisdom. And again, I will say is where the Tantric and Yogic practices come in. It is these practices that will truly help you integrate what you learn and finally connect the dots, so to speak.
And lest you think I take any of this too seriously, here is a clip from a truly bent comedy troupe based out of the UK, from a show called “The Mighty Boosh”. I highly recommend watching the whole skit, but for now, I’ll share the most relevant bit with you. Please enjoy, “Do you love me?”
As always, please comment and share your own thoughts.