At some point last fall I said I love you to someone I hadn’t known for more than a month. In part because she said it first. Then we talked about how ‘we live in a society’ that both makes love exclusive (it’s for your one monogamous partner and or immediate family), slow to occur and typically excludes other forms of love for other sorts of people. For example, there’s a common shame in America about telling our friends that we love them. While I can’t speak for everyone, I love my friends and I want them to know that before they or I die. I’ve said nothing to too many people who’re now dead. What love means in all these different contexts is predictably different. Even as a Relationship Anarchist the love and relationship I have with one partner is not equivalent to another partner.
Another time, maybe six months later, I said I love you to someone within the first week of knowing them. I meant that then and still have care for the person, yet what that love meant and means is different than the love I express to other people. The love I hold for an ex of several years past is still a love, yet it’s a love that doesn’t ask for closeness or proximity. A residue of care and empathy for another human being deeper than I have towards the Walmart cashier. We might venture that to be more /linguistically specific/ we should use more words than just love, to have more granularity in our descriptions. However, to do so introduces a more explicit relational hierarchy by default.
What I mean here is that, as a Relationship Anarchist I desire my relations to provide the maximum amount of autonomy while maintaining as little hierarchy as possible, with a complete abolition of relationship hierarchy as a desirable end (the end of compulsive monogamy and in/out group family dynamics). To introduce articulated and specific tiers of relationship closeness is to support and reify hierarchy in my relationships. To focus on the usage of the word love and understanding implicitly that it is both large and small and changes all the time, we can allow a greater number of people to fall into one relationship category: effectively widening the in group and diminishing the out group. While allowing our many relationships to exist in a diversity of ways within a similar sphere.
When I was younger, the word love meant a lot to me in its exclusivity and I wrote about love demanding exclusivity to be classified as such. I’ll reject the ideas of me at 16 now and propose that in making love an exclusive emotion we are both shutting ourselves out from community and communion and deadening our emotional engagement to friends and partners.