(About a 4 minute read)
This is how I explain it to myself. Suppose you meet someone who soon delights you, but who you do not in any way think of as “yours”. She’s not (at least not yet) your friend, or your lover, or your colleague, or your boss, or your employee, or your client, or your teacher, or your neighbor, or your — anything. She delights you, but — as we sometimes say — she means nothing to you.
Let’s say you met her because she sat down at the table next to you in a coffee shop. Glancing over you see her take a novel out of her purse. “What a striking cover! I’ve never seen another like it. Is it a good read?” A conversation starts. A few minutes later, you are thinking she’s an easy-going, down to earth, and rather delightful person.
The conversation soon enough tapers off, and you go back to your screen while she opens her novel.
Presently, her bagel sandwich arrives. As it happens, she’s a bit of lip smacker. Nothing too much, of course. Just enough to be very mildly annoying. So mild in fact, when you later on that evening briefly think of the delightful woman you met earlier in the coffee shop, her lip smacking has been forgotten.
What you have experienced is emotionally somewhat similar to the lightness of non-possessive love.
But turn all of that on its head! A year goes by, one thing has led to another, and the two of you have become a couple. Moreover, a rather possessive couple.
Following the love advice printed on the backs of cereal boxes, sung in popular songs, spelled out in many romance novels, and even declared from your nation’s pulpits, you have nursed and cultivated a possessive love. “I am yours, you are mine.” “You’re my one and only one.” “Wow! You love music too? We must be soulmates!”
But what happens now with the lip-smacking? Now that you “mean everything” to each other? Now that you have become each other’s possession?
Have you noticed? Things have gotten heavier.
You’re once again in the coffee shop, this time together. She’s very mildly annoying you with her lip-smacking again. You’re hardly noticing it. But that’s when you become aware that the attractive couple at the table next to yours are busy hiding the fun they’re making of her!
You’re offended of course! How dare they! But you’re also embarrassed now. A year ago, her lip-smacking did not embarrass you at all, but now you feel a bit humiliated by it.
A year ago, she was not yours. Her lip-smacking had nothing to do with you personally. But now she is yours, and now her lip-smacking reflects on who you feel you are as a person.
For awhile, you still accept her. For awhile, you’re embarrassed, a bit humiliated, but your feelings haven’t affected how you feel towards her. Then comes the fatal moment when you think, “This is all unnecessary. My embarrassment is all unnecessary. She could easily change things. She could so very easily cease to smack her lips.”
When she fails to immediately reform herself, you are soon enough stirred by impatience and frustration to anger. “I don’t see why it’s so hard for you to just stop smacking your lips. Am I asking too much for some peace while we’re eating? You never listen to me, do you?”
You don’t see it at first, but you’ve begun putting distances between yourself and the woman who “means everything” to you. Someday, those distances might become too much to travel across, even in bed.
The lightness of love. The heaviness of possession.
That’s how I see it. Your mileage might vary.
This post was written as a follow up to an earlier, autobiographical post, Sharon’s Love for the Horny Misfit Boy.