Love as a Concept

This blogpost is about different types of love. We all dream about falling in love from a relatively young age—probably something to do with the mass of stories romance is included in. It’s like air because it’s everywhere. But as I’ve grown up, I’ve fallen in love with a lot of things. I fell in love with books and video games, because they told me stories that made my soul burn. I fell in love with writing, because I got to give voice to my own stories. I fell in love with my partner, who is aromantic and asexual and my platonic life partner. And I fell in love with my work, making books from the production team.

Alexis talks a lot about her work in this chapter, and how much it means to her. That’s how I feel. And I wanted her to have a story where it’s not just about having a romance—it’s about getting to have lots of different loves. Her and her work. Her and her family. Her and her partner. If nothing else, I want people to take away that one love is all well and good, but that there are many types of love worth having out there, and anyone who’s going to make you pick and choose isn’t a good person to have in your life.

Recently I had a friend ask me about polyamory. I’m a great person to ask about that, as the local queer kid on the block, even though I don’t personally use that label. My friend David is poly, and he’s been my resource when I’ve had questions. More Than Two is the book he’s read and recommends. There’s also a podcast called Polyamory Weekly that he suggests just jumping into with any episode titles that speak to you. There’s something called The Ethical Slut that is a big resource for many and someone named Koe Creation is going around with their new book This Heart Holds Many. He also recommends events in your area if you want to talk to people.

There. Now that we have the base understanding of polyamory out of the way, let’s talk about why I’m not poly but why some people still use that label to refer to my lifestyle and why I’m fine with it.

As you may remember from previous paragraphs, I’m married to someone who is asexual, aromantic, and has no sexual or romantic relationship with me. She and I have what the Greeks would have called philia. Philia is the love that is shared between friends, in a platonic way. Even though I don’t use the label polyamorous for myself, because of my marriage, I do deal with similar issues concerning family structure and prejudices about having partners outside of my marriage, so I don’t mind people calling me poly for those reasons.

But Theresa, you may be asking, if your spouse is just your friend, why did you marry her?

My spouse isn’t just anything, dear reader. She’s exactly the person I want to come home to every night and reminisce to when I’m eighty and yelling kids off my lawn from the porch. Even though my loins don’t burn for her the way marketing tells me they should in order for her to be the person I want to build my life with, never-the-less she is that person. If you wanna see how grossly gooey we are about being married too, check out my twitter. I post disgustingly cute things about us there all the time.

Likewise, Alexis isn’t willing to let one love get in the way of another. While her creative mind is busy churning through the love she has for her work, she also finds her love for Terry (both as a creator and a person) equally important to her. Her love for her family—strained as that may be currently—is also very important to her, as shown through her phone call with her mother.

Theresa, those are just different bonds. Those things don’t qualify as love.

Don’t drink the Disney Kool-Aid, kid. Disney and our puritan ancestors might want us to prioritize romantic love over all other types of love, but we should hardly listen to them. It’s harmful to think that one person could be your everything. Even though my spouse is the person I want to build my life around, I don’t spend every waking moment with her. She knows how important my work is to me, and how important my other friends are to me, and even how important romance is to me when I find the right person to share it with. The reason I chose her and married her is because she understands those things about me, and still loves and supports me. We feed each other, give each other what we need to flourish.

Alexis is still working out what she needs to flourish. She’s just come off a number of really hard life events. She’s been focusing on surviving, not flourishing. Now, she has everything she ever wanted in front of her, and she’s having trouble trusting it. But this chapter isn’t about that. This chapter is about how fully she loves everything she’s having the opportunity to experience. The work, the family, the potential romance. They’re all extremely important to her—and in this chapter we finally see how those things weigh into her life. We see her needs.

And so does Terry. Without that glimpse into her priorities—into her various “loves”—Terry would never have been able to engineer a way for him to spend even more time with Alexis while simultaneously allowing her to pursue another one of her loves. It’s that breakthrough, the support of her other love affairs, that finally drives Alexis over the edge in regards to Terry and pushes her to ask him for a kiss.

I hope you all enjoyed getting to that moment as much as I did writing it. It’s still one of my favorite kiss scenes to date.

If you’d like to know more about polyamory, check out the resources I mentioned above. I found this post on More than Two particularly helpful when I was first starting out. If you’d like to read more about the different kinds of love the Greeks had names for, check out this article about eight different types.

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