Love and relationships are hard. Very hard. And in this day and age there is no one size fits all. Not only is gender being talked about more and how it isn’t so much about biology, its more about how you feel about yourself. But lets take gender out of the equation for a moment and look at the types of relationships that are possible.
The Romantic Love relationship. This is the most common form of love. The type where you are both emotionally and sexually attracted to another person. Not only do you want to spend time with them doing those things you love to do, but you also want to have a physical relationship with them. Everyone knows this type of relationship because it is the basis of just about every romantic comedy that has ever been made.
Family Love. This also needs no explanation. This is the love that you have for those people that you consider your family. And family does not necessarily mean the people that you are biologically related to but family can consist of those people you choose to be around all the time. Best friends, people you adopt in your life as an aunt, uncle, grandparent and sometimes even substitute parents. Family is such an emotionally complex idea that even psychologists are still trying to define exactly what family is and what they mean.
Then there is the concept of Platonic Love. This is an extremely complex relationship. Most of the time platonic love is chalked-up to being your best friend. Recently I was in a chat room that dealt with platonic love and learned some very interesting things. There are many married couples out there both gay and heterosexual who are in a committed platonic relationship. The couples I chatted with told me that the love they had with their partners was deeper than that of a best friend but not romantic like in a sexual relationship.
When asked if they were asexual almost all of them said no. They all had sexual feelings towards others, just not the person they were committed to. The love they shared went beyond the physical. What they received emotionally from their partners often satisfied the need for any physical satisfaction. I did chat with a couple that did choose outside partners to satisfy any physical needs that they had, but it was consensual and always with an open dialogue with their life partner.
I was intrigued for I myself am in a committed romantic relationship with my best friend. He is someone that I am both emotionally and sexually attracted to. He is an amazing partner and I wouldn’t want to change it in any way. But the chats I had got me thinking. Would I want to be in a committed relationship with him if there wasn’t that sexual component to our marriage? I had to think long and hard and I came to the conclusion that yes, I would probably have married him anyway. He isn’t just my best friend but I truly believe that he is my soulmate. I started to then understand these couples that were together but didn’t have that sexual component to their relationship.
So after thinking about this for a couple of days I went back in the chats and asked about something that is very important. Intimacy. I was surprised to find out that many of those in a committed platonic relationship did enjoy intimacy. There were stories of how much they liked to cuddle, caress and touch each other, even kiss. The open and honest conversations I had were very eye opening to me and I realized that even if sex wasn’t there I would probably be in a committed platonic relationship with my husband.
Love, it is an infinitely hard to define emotion. It comes in many shapes and sizes as do relationships. When even science hasn’t even conquered the explanation of what love really is, how is the average person supposed to explain it. Love can mean many different things to many different people. Who are we to say how any particular couple should love each other. When we finally understand that sometimes we can’t always help who and how we love then maybe there is hope for even more understanding.