A friend of mine told me that when he first heard of polyamory, he thought that meant that two people would have to share the love previously reserved for one. As if a person has 100 "love points" to give out, and one person used to get all the points. But with polyamory, that person would now only get 50 points and the other lover would get the rest.
What he realised, after talking with poly people and thinking about it some more, is that it doesn't work like that. A person has 100 "love points" to give to you, whom they love. If they love another person as well, that person also gets 100 "love points", that are unique to them. If the relationship those two have with each other were to end, you don't all of a sudden get 200 points. Those 100 points go away with that person.
What he learned from this is that love is unique to each individual. There is no competition for love, no struggle to get more than the others, and no point on worrying that you'll get less. Love is love, and the love you two feel for eachother is special. Different from the love you would feel for anyone else.
This post in at least partially inspired by this blog post here. The point was that we shouldn't worry so much about the word "love". Love simply means that you like this person so much, your feelings have transcended "like" and become something much stronger. You might love this person for the rest of your life, that's true. But you might as well love them for a few years, or a few months, or for even shorter time spans. Does that make your feelings any less wonderful? Valuable? Real? Any less strong? No! Love is love, regardless of time, or distance, or relationship status, or gender, or age.
When you stop believing in The One True Love, and recognize that all relationships are unique and have value in themselves, love doesn't need to be "saved up" for anyone. Saying "I love you" doesn't have to mean "let's get married". It doesn't have to mean "let's move in together". It doesn't even have to mean "I will now only love you". It simply means "I love you".
In the Scandinavian languages, there exist middle ground between "like" and "love". In Norwegian we say "glad i", which could be translated to "cherish" or "care for". Commonly, you say that you "cherish" your parents, your children, your friends and even your lovers. Then there is the Norwegian term for being "in love", which is "forelsket". That doesn't carry such strong connotations of love either. You could say this to a boyfriend/girlfriend, without implying that you love them. In other words, in Scandinavian languages, saying "I love you" is a big deal. Even more of a big deal than in English.
I love T. I've loved him for many years, I loved him when we got married, and I'll most likely keep loving him until the end of my days. I can't know this for certain, but we've been together this long and we're showing no signs of stopping yet. I love him.
I love Saint. We've been together for over three years now. I fell in love with him really quickly, and said that I loved him after we'd been together for a very short time. I still love him, and it feels like my love for him grows every month we're together. My love for Saint is unique. So different from my love for T, to the point where they're practically incomparable. One is no less than the other, no more than the other, because "more" and "less" love are moot points. Love is love, and love is unique. It can't be compared.
But it doesn't stop there. If I am to be honest, I've probably loved almost every man I've ever played with. At least everyone where I felt there was some connection, some spark. Where the play actually worked like we both wanted it to. BDSM fuels this heady mix of trust, passion, excitement, pleasure, surrender, pain, and this cocktails combines to form really intense memories.
I have loved all my long-term play partners. Mondage. Corvus. Tight. I loved them. I never told them so, but I did. War, as well, even though that was just vanilla. I loved him. To have long term bonds grow into love isn't so strange. But in the hours when we played, I also loved Donald, in a unique way. I loved LOL. I loved Pet. The feelings didn't last, of course. I never did for any of them. It might only have been true love in the hours we spent playing. But that sensation WAS love. There is no other word for it.
Does the duration of a feeling make it more or less valid? More or less wonderful? Strong? True? I refuse to believe it does.
This spring, I loved Giant. I loved him as strongly as I've ever loved anyone. Do I love him now? Yes, no, maybe. I don't know. The feelings have faded somewhat, like muscles that shrink from disuse. And they will fade further in time, until I don't love him anymore. I'll probably always care for him, but not love him.
And last weekend, I loved Swede. My love for him is unique. Different from any other feeling of love I ever had. It doesn't carry any connotations, any expectations, it doesn't even mean we'll have any sort of relationship. "Love" doesn't mean any of those things. Love is just love. And my feelings for him probably won't last. We don't have enough time together, we don't have enough to build on. It will fade, like my feelings for War, or Tight, or Corvus. But it was love.
Duration doesn't make it less true.
Love is love is love.
And love is wonderful.