“I’m not sure if…,” she says, pausing here to let the words formulate themselves before continuing, “I’ve ever been in love.”
It’s not a question. It’s a statement. And it seems to surprise even her as she speaks the thought aloud. She shrugs, head shaking, then takes a sip from her glass of water, puts it down.
When a woman tells me that she’s never been in Love— like that heart-pounding, can’t-be without-them kind of love— it’s as foreign as someone telling me they’ve never tripped on a stair, or puked from a night of drinking. What kind of bubble could this person live in? It’s almost as surprising to me as hearing a woman tell me she’s never orgasmed before. Although thankfully, this seems to be slightly more common— whereas the self-described never-Loved woman, she’s definitely rare(r). Not so rare though, that I don’t cross her every once in a while. And sometimes, even more surprisingly to me, she’s a close friend. In such moments I’m always left wondering, How did I never know this about her?
Like in this very moment, where I’m sitting across from one of my girlfriends (who was notedly once engaged, but now on Tinder/Bumble, anything she could write a profile for). And now suddenly she’s openly expressing concerns about if she’s ever actually been in Love.
“Like, what does love even mean?” She adds.
I’m speechless. Love is a loaded thing and I’m not even pretending to have the words to define it— indeed words generally fail us in such matters. But, I’m also not negating that it can’t be described, like a pulse quite actively surging through my body and quite regularly at that. To me, asking what Love means is like asking what a ripe fruit is after taking a bite of one. Indeed we don’t pause to wonder if a palatable fruit has passed the Brix-Acid Ratio. We just know that it tastes good, you know? Love, I believe, works in much the same way. You just know it because you feel it. But perhaps I am guilty of projecting my tastes onto others because for me, palatable Love comes easily enough. Perhaps too easily, even. Much like that Hozier song, whose lyrics state my curse so eloquently:
I fall in love just a little ol’ little bit
Every day with someone new
To fall in love— even if only a little ol’ little bit— with someone new every day, of course, is its own form of torture; One that I have had to learn to temper with age (if only to be able to persevere through life with a little ol’ little more dignity and stability).
But to have never been in Love? At all? Ever? This you see, must be another kind of torture of its own.
When a woman tells me she’s never been in Love, the same questions and curiosities always get triggered. The pseudo-psychologist in me, for instance, wonders if she’s self-protecting. Like, did someone hurt her when she was younger? Abandon her, even? For its part, the pseudo-linguist in me wonders if it’s simply a matter of poor terminology. Like, perhaps she’s confused about what Love really is and means? And maybe because of that she just doesn’t have the right idea of it so she’s been searching for something that doesn’t exist? And then the pseudo-neurologist in me wonders if perhaps this woman, quite like a rare specimen, is just wired differently. Like, perhaps some of us just aren’t born as lovers? Perhaps some of us just aren’t prone to give themselves over to sweeping, emotional weaknesses?
I cannot say. So I turn to Google to ask the question: Is everyone capable of love?
The question, it seems, boils down to a matter or whether or not for some love is locked in there, or simply just non-existent? Most articles I find (and there are quite a few to my surprise) seem to chalk the ‘problem’ up to the first. Case and point, in a recent Psychology Today article written by clinical psychologist Eric S. Jannazzo Ph.D., he states blankly (and perhaps much too confrontingly for some, like myself) that “not everyone is capable of love”. The main issue? That we simply cannot unlock or unpack the traumas of our childhood.
If it’s not prescribed as some classic Freudian childhood issue though, then the articles and theorists usually chalk it up to a personality disorder. Antisocials, they’re called. Or as one Quora user writes, “In layman’s’ terms, they are sociopaths and psychopaths.”
I’m looking at my girlfriend now as she picks up her glass of water to take yet another sip. Our conversation has since lulled into silence, neither of us knowing exactly how to proceed in the gulf of the questions about Love hanging over us. And now, as I watch her take still another sip, I wonder about her childhood, her parents, her exes; I wonder too if secretly, she’s a sociopath. All of this I try to compute in my head as I catch her eye before she quickly looks away, as if she were scared I would glimpse something from deep within. In that moment though, it’s enough for me to conclude something about her: that she’s just like me. We’re both slightly messed up and missing bits of our wits and yet still hopeless romantics. Unlike me though, she’s approached it quite differently. While I am rather much like a greedy trick-o-treater going door-to-door for any and all love; She is rather much like the cooped up Rapunzel (though whether by choice or force, this I cannot say) unable to allow anyone in except for the one who will defy physics and sweep her away.
I settle on this answer as we pay the bill and rise from our seats. It’s warm outside, my thighs take a moment to unstick themselves from one another. That’s when another equally revealing thought strikes me: that in the end, all we can probably agree on is that I am still projecting here. Myself onto her. And of course, we still haven’t really answered the question— whether or not Love is really for everyone?
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