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Greedy Love!

I've decided that most people unknowingly express love in greedy ways. They make an assumption that love is X and X is a finite resource. Not only that but that there are grades of love in different levels of abundance. Grade 12a is for the unwashed masses, there's plenty of it and it's mostly worthless, while grade 99z is a rare commodity reserved for the romantic elite, that one most special person in the world - the soul mate. In between are the various grades of love measured and metered for friends and family, siblings and offspring.

Part of this assumption is due to the fact that we expect love to take the form of an action. Actions take time, time is finite, therefore love is finite. The more you love someone the more time you'll put into an action and the more someone else will reap from that action. It's a false assumption though. I've found that more love can be expressed by throwing out a protective hand during an unexpectedly quick stop in the car than can be expressed by an expensive and well planned meal. However, most people want the meal. They want the ring, the flowers, the poetry, the romantic getaway, the pictures, and the promise of forever. What affects them most though is that momentary touch, that briefest eye contact, that tender smile, some involuntary reaction to danger, or that person being here now.

We can't separate our needs from our desires. Our desires are built off of fairy tales and romantic comedies where love does wonderful and magical things. Reality is that the magic and wonder is there in the mundane acts performed almost daily, bringing Starbucks home to the spouse, taking the kids to the store, or doing a load of wash. Oh those aren't exciting, but they are expressions of love in their own right, just as precious as that well planned trip, just as well thought out as that romantic night out.

That disparity between our expectations can create hurdles to our ultimate happiness. Imagine a wife that misses all the signs that her husband loves her because her expectations don't allow her to see the hundred ways a day that he expresses his love. Similarly a husband doesn't feel love from his wife despite romantic getaways simply because the little actions he expects to happen every day are missing. Then there are the scores of couples that love each other and match emotionally but not sexually, or vice-verse. The couple that can bond over sports but not art or the one that likes to dance and the one that has two left feet. There's room there for growth and change and some couples will find a middle ground. Too many others will fail. They will fall into longing, cheating, or divorce to find that "perfect" match, that soul-mate who fits all of their expectations.

Why? Why abandon your spouse because they don't write you love letters or take you dancing, even though they make you laugh and are great to talk to? Because the grass is always greener on the other side and in order to obtain that greener pasture you have to abandon the current one. Why? Because you can't love more than one person at a time, it's in the rules. Because Love Grade 99z is so rare you have to take it away from partner A in order to give it to now partner B. You can try to make partner A feel better by giving them a substitute like Love Grade 89b (reserved exclusively for former partners in good standing.) But they'll never receive 99z again. Ever (except maybe in that moment of weakness when you realize that the grass isn't greener but now your stuck because you love partner B just as much and couldn't stand hurting someone you love like that again.)

It's all good though, because this is the expectation. We expect that when someone starts loving us that someone else has to lose. We will receive all of 99z and someone else will receive nothing or a cheap substitute to 99z. Because we're greedy like that. We'd rather that someone else do without so that we don't have to deal with sharing, compromise, or disagreement. We'd rather horde what may not be a finite resource so that we can hold the proud title of Winner, Best, or Only. In doing so we turn a blind eye to the happiness of others including our most precious love, our soul-mate.

That greed can turn easily to jealousy. Then jealousy can turn to anger and suspicion and hate and over time ruin that once loving relationship and affect the lives of those around around them. A husband lacking a partner to compliment him or make him laugh latches on to a co-worker who makes him happy, the wife on learning of this budding relationship does everything she can to squash it which in turn either drives the husband closer to it or ends the relationship leaving the husband unhappy. There are countless such stories littering divorce papers and court recordings all over the US and countless others untold as people endure unhappiness because of a lack of any alternative.
When you explain greedy love to people and tell these stories at first they're contemplative, "Hmmm, that makes sense. Maybe your right." and then slowly it sinks in and they alternatives and solutions start floating to the top. Then almost as quickly they find a means of justifying greedy love. Tradition, focus, the flashlight analogy. The flashlight analogy goes like this:

"Imagine love is a flashlight. It has a narrow focus and a bright light and I can focus that light on only one person at a time. If I shine it somewhere else then someone loses out on the light and someone else receives the light."

The problem with the analogy is this question "how long does someone need the light and when?" If I focus the light on the person who needs it at the moment they need it, then the person not needing the light shouldn't care. It's only when two people need the light at the same time that there's a reason for conflict. The problem becomes one of compromise. Each person wants to own the light forever despite not needing to use it all the time and to that end they are willing to allow the other person to stay in perpetual darkness. But there's another question "what if the other person brought a flashlight too?" So I focus my light on them and then they focus their light on the other person. No one loses.

Unfortunately it's an exercise in futility. No one is able to turn the mental exercise into a change of heart. No one is able to make the leap to think of others before themselves in this regard. It all goes back to what they are going to lose and how they will suffer versus benefit. Greedy love! Damned greedy love!