In defense of passionate love

This little ditty came up because Jess and I are doing a rewatch of Buffy and Angel and have been talking a lot about Love. Adult love. Selfish love. Passionate love. In talking about Buffy and Angel in season 2, I told her I sometimes missed the experience of being a teenager. My experience of being an adult has been of regularly having to face down the existential void and to grasp for meaning. Of forcing myself to remember to go and get the rock. But I remember being a teenager positively drowning in meaning. I followed up with:


I was thinking about our messages last night on the way to work. Thought I’d reply here so I didn’t blow your phone up.

I was wondering if maybe we’re using the same term to describe two different things. You were speaking very broadly about a type of love relationship and I was speaking very specifically about a type of love experience?

TOTALLY agree that the “you complete me” style of relationship is bullshit, codependent, unhealthy, and nonsense. As Mr. Platt says in an episode you’re coming up to, a lot of people lose themselves in love - but sooner or later you have to find your way back. Because if you don’t, “…love becomes your master and you’re just its dog.” (har har because it’s a werewolf episode.)

I think what I was talking about (that drunk-in-love Angel/Buffy passion thing that I said I have, at times, mourned the loss of as an adult) is more about a particular kind of EXPERIENCE in a loving relationship. Call it, moments of complete and total vulnerability, rewarded by an experience of safety and belonging. It’s that moment when you’re with a person where you kind of forget the outside world exists. When you’re moved by being loved or loving someone. Sometimes they happen during sex but not necessarily. Waking up in another person’s arms can bring it on.  Emotional nakedness. And it IS a moment of escape, one that we can go a couple of different ways with as people.

Those moments feel like an ending in and of themselves (the I Will Remember You problem) and that can mislead us. Life isn’t safe. Sooner or later you have to pee. Go to work. You can have those vulnerable moments with a partner and they then do something horrible to you and that makes you never want to trust those moments again.

Likewise, because life can truly suck at times, those moments can become addictive. We can look to those moments for escapism. Let’s run away together. Let’s die in each other’s arms. THATS the codependent manifestation. The relationship as addiction. “Angel when I look into the future, all I see is you.”

All of that said, I think if you’re open and willing to be vulnerable with another person then to some degree those moments are just going to happen. And why shouldn’t they? Is the safety felt in this SPECIFIC passionate moment in time, false, because tomorrow is eventually going to come? Do I choose not to trust the warmth of this evening’s fire because rain is probably inevitable? It’s like…a song I really love that makes me cry or gets me pumped up. To some degree, that is a ROMANTIC experience. But is that experience not worth anything because the song eventually ends? 

I hope not. A thing isn’t beautiful because it lasts.

That’s all I was trying to say. Hopefully, that makes more sense.