Diary of a Crap Lesbian: Love – or something like it

Issue 81

This originally appeared in BCN issue 81, Sept 2006

Any fool, they say, can fall in love. Fodder for writers, artists and musicians for as long as there’s been language, art and music, love is beautiful. Both personal and universal, love is an unparalleled feeling; all who love are equal. All these things and more, love is profound, love is complex; it is perfect, sublime, glorious. Above all else though, love’s a bitch.

I’ve been operating under a severe misconception, it seems, since my teen years. I remember making the decision at seventeen, shortly after my first love ripped my still beating heart out of my chest, that I was not going to be loves bitch. I decided that there must be a moment when one must judge which path to take – do I a) let myself fall, or b) do I refuse to develop any depth of feeling? Just as one chooses one friends, so one should be able to choose with whom one falls in love. This was my philosophy and I was sticking to it. I had been hurt and I didn’t like it. I, I decided, was going to snap out of it. I was going to fall out of love. With all the certainty of adolescence I set about my live safe in the knowledge that I would never be hurt again, that I was in complete control of my feelings.

It turns out that all of that was wrong. So determined I was that love wasn’t going to catch me unawares, that love, or something like it caught me completely unawares.

The last couple of months have been pretty hectic for me – I upped sticks and moved, lock, stock and shiny red heels to a new city and, since I got here, I’ve been quite the social butterfly. But no matter where I’ve been, who I’ve been with and what I’ve been doing, one thing has occupied my thoughts. ‘Look how much fun I’m having, even though X isn’t here’. ‘What would X think if she could see me now?’, ‘Look how much I’m not thinking about X’. ‘See how I’m moving on, without X.’

I’ve spent every waking moment thinking about how I’m not thinking about her, which suggests to me that I’m not quite as over her as I thought I was. This, it seems, is not quite the surprise to my friends as it is to me.

I used to think that love, real love, lasted forever. Now I’ve grown up a little I’m beginning to think that love can last forever, but it has to be nurtured. When left alone it will stagnate and eventually fade. If that’s true, and if what I feel for this ex of mine isn’t love, what exactly is it? It feels like love, but it’s a thing apart; love implies care, support, a sharing of the mundane as well as the fantastic. This is different. It’s selfish. It doesn’t want to care for its object, merely to possess it.

Some call it obsession, some call it puppy love, but it’s not really either of those things. It’s limerence – the crush that never went away, the unjustified depth of feeling for the one person that you can’t have, it is defined in Wikipedia thus: ‘an involuntary cognitive and emotional state characterized primarily by intrusive thinking, longing for reciprocation, and sensitivity to external events that signify uncertainty on the one hand, and hope of reciprocation on the other’. Who hasn’t at one time or another felt that way? It’ s a great human experience. Desperate to be viewed favourably in the eyes of their quarry, desperate to be noticed by them at all.

Wikipedia continues, ‘[limerence] can be experienced as intense joy or as extreme despair, depending on the perceived behavior of the “limerent object,” the person whose returned feeling is desired’.  How clinical.  How cold.  For a better articulation see the poetry of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, or Charlotte Bronte; ‘ Could the battle-struggle earn One kind glance from thine eye, How this withering heart would burn, The heady fight to try ‘ (from Passion). I might have said that that’s a little over the top, but to say that would be to forget what limerence is.

Having begun to understand this emotion in myself, I set out to challenge it.  This lust, I told myself, this fixation on someone I barely know anymore, is just plain silly and I’m not having it.  With my foot put firmly down, I set about banishing this girl from my thoughts. ‘Aren’t I doing well, forgetting about X’, I thought,’ look at me not thinking about her at all’. Later, ‘I’ve not thought about X all day, go team me’.

I suppose my limerent object is here to stay, and I’m going to have to stop thinking of my affection for her as a personality defect. Maybe this feeling will fade, and I suspect it will, but until then I’ll allow my self to indulge in an occasional woe is me moment.