Love terrified me. Having had its mere taste, I feared the change that would have surely followed- that I would change, morph into my most insufferable nightmare- becoming a creature emotionally dependent upon another.
There’s an age old question- is it better to have loved and lost or to not have loved at all?
To love is to have lost. For what is love but self-sacrifice? Love being nothing but a callous zero-sum game built on the laws of time and space.
And yet, with love, you play a much more perilous game. You stand to lose the self in this gamble. Like with the house, the odds are stacked against you. You offer up everything he could possibly desire just for the merest glimmer of the possibility that in the years to follow, you will find in him enduring love.
An altogether laughable notion if not for the fact that every moment thousands more fall prey to its lure.
Yet it is all for naught. To participate in the social dance of the relationship construct is understandable, for as people we need companionship and affection; but to yearn for anything more than a dance is uncomprehending gullibility. To open yourself up further to more than an obligatory house rake was madness.
In no other arena would you give up so much in exchange for such precious little. Self-preservation would have taken over the reigns; altruism be damned.
But in love, there is no self, there is only a “we”. A dangerous word that turns the old hierarchy on its head. Individual pursuits fall prey to mutual goals. Sacrifice is encouraged, looked upon as the holy grail of the display of your love.
You hollow yourself out and wear yourself down, building your life with “we” in mind. You give, he takes. Until “we” has eroded all of you leaving a parasite that feeds off from his thoughts and feelings, grasping hungrily at mere crumbs of affection offered in magnanimous condescension.
But love cannot be self-sacrifice. If you sacrifice yourself, then what is left of you to feel the love? True love, true happiness must be by extension selfish.
It was Ayn Rand who wrote, “To say ‘I love you’ one must first know how to say the ‘I’.”
I am my own harshest critic and most passionate lover, given to both self-criticism and narcissism. And I duly indulged both facets of the id.
In love, I were miserable. I railed against the dichotomy of my nature. The critic fighting against the narcissist, both holding their own, both grasping at the reigns of my nature. I was divided, utterly split.
On one hand, I were in love. I wanted nothing more than to give him everything I had to offer- to be the classic perfect girlfriend, always understanding, always accommodating, never demanding anything of him and putting him first in everything. For he was amazing, and yet he would deign to lower himself to be with someone like me. It baffled my mind.
But we are our own harshest critics, we forget that not everyone sees us through the dysmorphic lenses we ourselves wear.
On the other hand, my self-love was preaching that I was better than this, I deserved someone better, someone who understood me. Someone who would truly accept me. Someone who without all the lofty gestures of self-sacrifice would still want to be with me.
And as the two sides railed I sought comfort and found it in my misery.
Misery is my familiar.
I were more at ease mired in my complacent misery and cynicism. I clung to them wearing it like a shroud that delivered me from the world. It was my most significant identifier, it singled me out and held me apart from the groveling sycophants so eager for love to abase themselves before another.
For if I held out and did not give in; if I did not trust, did not believe, did not expect happiness- then I could suffer love intact. For happiness is a concept constructed in air- fragile, dubious and temperamental. And the pursuit of it is treacherous.
This is why I’ll always choose to be single.
Because I don’t understand love.
Because I’d altogether rather not take that leap.
Because I love him and he can never know.
Because keeping him at arm’s-length is the only thing I can do.
Because he can do no wrong by me. If he stays ignorant of my love for him, he can never be at fault. I can never be let down. Not without expectations.
For I love myself too much to do that. Not to me.
For this is the only way I know how to be happy in love.
And I deserve to be happy in love.