Why expectations are love's fire blanket
The way love is marketed is such a peculiar plastic flimsy thing. We’re generally sold this idea that romantic love is the epitome of life itself and that finding your one true life partner is the make or break of your value as a human. And there is such little discussion about the love that is friendship.
The love I have for my friends is so deep and often so much more honest. It’s such a peculiar thing that often when we add the element of romance, we smooth down a thick layer of expectation on top of our care. And that layer forms a barrier. I try and catch myself at this but I need to work a lot harder at it.
Let’s take the basic example of the washing up. If one my mates comes to my house and does the washing (after a whole big wrestle of “oh don’t be so silly / please leave it / I can do it later / seriously it’s fine…”) I’m bowled over by how thoughtful and community spirited they are. If my partner does the washing up I’m like “cool, I have some other chores to do over here, see you in five”. And it’s not that I’m not grateful for him doing the task (or doing his share of the housework) but the expectation means I don’t always treat him with the same reverence as I bring to my mates. And I adore him.
I am mulling over today what love means and how love feels and how expectations can lead to entitlement and assumptions. Whereas friendship is possibly one of the truest forms of unconditional love. However my friends show up, they are welcome and I will hold space for them. Whatever their habits or needs or capacity there is room for them in my home and heart. I welcome them to pull up a seat. And digitally this is how I try and show up too. I try and aim that my Twitter spreads messages of hope and unity (and rubbish jokes), that my Instagram showcases many humans in many bodies shining as their true authentic selves and in my coaching work I make sure that I operate on a scale that anyone who needs support has access.
I am reminded of the Cornel West quote that “Justice is what love looks like in public.”
I’m thinking about how, in truth, the love for my friends should be heralded far higher than the the fetished romantic love they write the songs, and the films. And I think that’s probably the same for a lot of us. That the love I share with my friends has less pressure and so it is more free to flow exactly as it should. I don't put limits to it. Whenever it shows up, I am grateful. I am going to practice carrying more of this behaviour into my relationship - because I can see how beautiful it is when my love does not come with a fat instruction manual.
So here’s to you, my chosen digital family. For the love and care we create for each other in these modern times in this digital way, for the laughs we share, for the caring of strangers and for creating a web of support in what have otherwise been extremely isolating times. What incredibly people rich friend wealth love riddled life I lead. I am very grateful.
Happy Valentine’s Day pals.