Existential Crisis.

 "What you call "love" is nothing more than a wishful fancy.  Let me tell you one thing, and then let us speak of it no more. Love is a weakness. Love is a cancer that grows inside and makes one do foolish things. Love is death. The love you dream of is something that would be more important to one than anything, even life. I know no such love.  What I know is passion. The respect of equals. Things far more valuable that I'll not speak to you any further."

--Morrigan, Dragon Age Origins

I've been wanting to write about this for a few days now but I haven't really known what to say or how to word it.  But I guess I've gotten my thoughts as in order as they're going to get.

I've whined emo-ly several times now on this blog about love and how I feel that it eludes me.  Or for some reason that I don't deserve it.  This has been a constant thing I've felt since childhood and I'm sure that unfortunately, many can relate in some way.  Still, it wasn't until Brianna left a comment that I started reflecting that maybe my definition of love wasn't appropriate or accurate.

I have been thinking lately about the type of people I love and who love me.  While I have no problem in the realm of friends and confidants, people in relationships don't really give me what I feel the love I deserve is.  I guess maybe that sounds haughty of me, but then I wondered, well, do I love anyone? I'm not talking, again, about friends and people I consider family...those I love without question, would die for without question, would do anything for and they hopefully know and understand that.  I'm talking specifically relationship-type love in this blog entry.  The kind of people who marry each other or have these at least seemingly-deep connections and mutual respect for each other or something that eludes me.

I've only felt what I would call relationship-love for one person, and even that is testy and a whirlwind at times and more often than not I'm feeling a plethora of negative emotions alongside that feeling of relationship-love.  It never just stands alone as a good feeling, one that I can believe in at a time like this.  I've never been able to just truly embrace that singular feeling so I don't know what it holds and all of its secrets.  Also, that person has never loved me back, which gives me no reason whatsoever to even attempt to understand my love for them and what to do about it or what its potential is.  The fact that this one relationship is the closest I've ever come to real, true love and it's such a messy and rocky and unstable give and take makes me think...well, that must not be relationship-love either.   Nor am I content with others' definitions of relationship-love.  I feel that it doesn't pertain to me (as I have always felt) and due to my low self-esteem I really also feel like I'm not worthy of even learning more about love and what it has to offer.  It's not a priority.  I never felt that it was, but what's different now is that I'm not even fucking sure what it is I'm searching for.

What is love? (Baby don't hurt me...don't hurt me...no more)

What is it really? It's something more than that protective desire I have to watch over and take care of my friends and family.  It's something more than passion and emotions that I feel with lovers.  It's obviously not the stuff marriages are made of, or so many marriages wouldn't be failed (including my own).  It's also obviously not the stuff in fairy tale romances, because we've all accepted that those don't exist.  What more could I do to show someone that I relationship-love them than offer my life, and yet there are tons of people that I would do that for because I'm selfless in general when it comes to my friends?  Do we marry our best friends (as so many bloggers gleefully proclaim) because we get along well and we care and it's that simple?

This specific type of one-on-one love is not something that's found in nature.  Humans have been borrowing their morals and shit from religious texts for thousands of years now....is love one of those doctrines we learned about through myths?  Just like the completely ludacris idea of souls?  Or is that even ludacris?  Marriage, I firmly believe, is completely unnecessary and at most should be a ritualistic ceremony embracing an emotional bond between a pair of people who want to accomplish mutual goals in life.   Marriage is also rooted in religion and the stigma that surrounds "unconventional" marriage and relationships is yet another insanely out of date problem that shouldn't even exist and yet thanks to religion, it does.  So is the idea of love like that?

I don't know why I care about the people I do, in the way that I do, either.  I know that we humans started out as pack animals and just the same way as other packs do, we look out for each other.  We respect each other and we test boundaries and we work together and oftentimes, we enjoy it.  Maybe it's just a good quality of mine that I can be such a good friend and so ferociously take care of those in my life.  I never had anyone do that for me when I needed it, when I was a kid, so that probably influences my want and drive to do so for others.  But it has very little to do with relationship-love.

So as you can see I've entered an existential crisis on whether or not love is real.  It's very humbling and also very depressing to realize not that you don't love..or not that someone doesn't love you...but that you don't know what love is, or worse, IF it is, or if it's one of those things that like God, was something to keep you cozy on those lonely nights.  It's unnerving, considering how potent love is in our society and how generally accepted it is to exist and mean something wonderful.  I feel like a large part of my entire being is now just empty, and silent, and that makes me wonder what else isn't real, or what else I'm unsure about.

None of this probably makes any sense, and that's okay.  Go on with your lives as normal and I will be over here poring over coffee and growing a beard like all those suicidal philosophers before me.


  1. I would say that love exists, but existentially, if that makes any sense in the paradoxical Zen way I said it, in the context of you having an existential crisis.

    Love is an experience, I think we can agree on that, and thus romantic love is merely a particular persistent quality of the general experience of love directed towards someone.

    I can't say I've felt love, nor can I say I understand it in its fullness, but I would say no one does, not even couples who have been "happily" married for 50+ years. Part of romantic love necessarily involves conflict, anxiety and other negative emotions that you say you experience. This is not in any way contradicting a romantic feeling, because any love that functions well, functions because there is dialogue and dialogue almost necessarily leads to some form of conflict. The resolution of it is important to whether you are friends or lovers.

    Both friends and lovers can resolve conflicts, but the feelings left behind are different, though I can't speak of the distinction yet, since I only have experienced such feelings in parting from friends, not a lover.

    All I can say is press on, continue to live and experience things, because that's the essence of existentialism: being a subject and perceiving things as such, but also recognizing objective truths that persist in spite of your individual experiences, bad, good, average. I haven't found the girl, though I have an idea of what she'll be like. But she may surprise me. She may be someone, as the cliche goes, that I didn't even realize was right under my nose.

  2. What you say is true. I took a class back in college called "sex evolution." It basically said LOVE doesn't exist - but pheromones, desire to procreate, etc... THOSE exist and are real. Passion is real because it's generally based in biological need or exchange of pheromones.

    But over time I couldn't count out love. Not completely. Love isn't necessarily some magical feeling, or religious doctrine, or perfect delight in another person (because really, who the hell has that???). I think where people get mixed up is thinking love is EXTERNAL (someone is going to love me, or love me back, or not love me as I love them...). But for me, love is INTERNAL. It's something I give freely, regardless of how often that person pisses me off. It's forgiving them when I don't want to. It's caring for them when they do - and when they don't - deserve it. Love is something that comes from within ME - not from someone else. If I'm lucky enough to BE loved by someone, great. That's lovely. But if not, that doesn't stop me from loving them.

    And love is just a fancy word for sacrifice. Let's be honest. Love is doing all those things you don't always want to do for someone who may not even appreciate you. And other times you don't mind the sacrifice because someone is sacrificing right back.

    The important thing is: there is no real definition of love. It can be whatever you want it to be. Some people love differently than others, and it may not FEEL as good, but it doesn't detract from the fact that that's all they're capable of.

    I liked this post. Very very thought provoking. Philosophy of love is something I imagine has been discussed for thousands of years...

  3. AnonymousSeptember 9, 2013 at 9:07 PM
    Hi Patricia,
    I am a male and I have been having the same existential thoughts about relationship. I am glad to hear that I am not alone. But while most people's existential thoughts revolve around life and death, mine seem to be obsessing about and projecting outcomes of some future relationship with a woman. I know that relationship between man and woman is right up on the top of the list with survival being the #1 human drive. But for me life and death don't seem to be an issue with me. It is as if the fear of failure of some future relationship is a fate worse than death. And it has me ruminating about all of the philosophical Buddhist stuff like the illusion of romantic love vs. a healthy, strong long term relationship, etc. etc. etc. My theory on this might have something to do with my upbringing. They say that a mother is a male child's first female role model. And in that relationship, if it is a healthy one, the boy will develop confidence and a right perspective about future female suitors. I think that because my mother had her own issues while I was growing up, it might have compromised my healthy development in that area. M.

  4. I also understand the ruminations about the subject when it comes from a perspective of low self esteem. It is hard enough to make a relationship work all things being equal but it seems to be insurmountable when you know that you are not up to the task. I understand that love evolves and the romantic part is just the beginning. Even the best relationship/ marriage must evolve. But it would kill me if I could not make that happen without being threatened by outside competition. These periods of strife are where the relationships fidelity is tested the most.