What Is Love?

(Baby don’t hurt me, no more. There I did the song thing, now I can get it out of my head.)

One of my favorite bloggers has recently been posting on what love means to them (here and here), which got me to thinking. What is love to me?

For me, it depends on the context of that question. I may have a million reasons to love someone in a given moment: the gift they’ve given me, the conversation we’ve had, great sex, emotional bonding moments, amazing cuddling, that look in their eye or in their smile, something that reminds me of a moment we’ve had together that was meaningful to me, etc. But I do try to be careful about saying it for the first time to someone, because it has baggage in our culture.

The love threshold for me is this: Do I want to take on the challenges that come up in the context of our relationship? Do I have space (or can/do I want to make space) for those challenges in my heart? And when I know for certain that the answers to both those questions in unequivocally and enthusiastically “yes”, then I know I’m ready to say that to them.

The great thing about this? It applies equally well for platonic, sexual, romantic, intellectual, and familial love.

I’ve heard arguments that you can’t really know you love a person until you have a fight with them. Which I think is far too specific. I think that simply any challenge that causes an emotional reaction, whether that be annoyance, anger, or sadness, will do just fine (and possibly other emotions as well – I haven’t dived very deeply into that, so I don’t want to speak without knowledge). Moss and I were talking a bit ago, before I had the chance to think about this all, and I mentioned that we’ve never had a fight (which we still haven’t) and how some people use that as a gauge of whether you’re in love. His response was that we’ve had a lot of hard discussions, which is definitely very true. Do I love him? Without a doubt.

When I tell someone I love them, I am telling them that I agree, in that moment, to take on whatever challenges may come and that I will tell them if I don’t think I can, whether that be just for a specific instance, or as a general statement. And this is actually what I ask myself each day – do I think I can take on the challenges for each of my relationships, no matter what comes? And if I don’t have the tools to deal with them in the moment that they come up in, can/will I seek them from within myself, a friend, a partner, or my therapist? And can I honestly admit to myself and to the other person when a challenge is beyond what I can handle, without making it seem like they have any obligation to handle it for me?

This also explains for me why my love for Minx exists in the present tense. The challenge that came and comes for me is/was dealing with her death. That was the final challenge in our relationship. And it took me a long time to realize that I did not have the tools to deal with it, but a therapist and pharmacology might. So I sought those out. And that, combined with a supportive network of friends and the love of Trydaen, is how I got where I am today. Every day I wake up and I try to face the challenge of grief and depression that came with that sudden end. And, 99 times out of 100, I am successful on my own. The rest of the time, I ask for help.

So, to my partners, to my chosen family, to my close friends, and to at least the immediate members of my family of origin – I love you.

(But that song is still stuck in my head. Curses)


So far out…

My dear Minx,

Each day I creep closer and closer to the day where none of the cells in my body will have ever known you.  For some reason that seems significant to me.  Already it is hard for me to remember the sound of your voice, the touch of your hand, and the smell of your skin.  I remember your face, because of all the pictures that I still look at every once in awhile.  I remember the scar around your waist.  I remember your sweetness.

I am far enough out that there is not enough information for me to assume what you would have thought of my life as it is now.  But, it is your death that forced me to change, forced me to examine what I found important, forced me to look into the void and deal with what that meant to me.  I do no longer see it as entirely a negative thing – if you were alive, then I would not wish you dead just for the sake of my own growth – but more as something that gave the me I am now space to come out and spread their wings.

I am happy these days.  I have found love in a few places that I never thought imaginable.  Deep, sweet love.  Love of a depth and breadth I hadn’t ever imagined before.  I wish you could meet them, see what joy they bring into my life, witness the magnitude of the love in my life.  But, my dear sweet Minx, that will never happen.  So I guess I will have to settle for luxuriating in that love, washing my dears with my tears of extraordinary joy, and reflecting it back, whenever I can.  My loves have challenged me and I have grown, grown beyond the extent that I did because of grief.  I love who I have become.  I love the person I get to be with my partners.



When I was younger I never really had regrets.  I had the life I wanted, or so close an approximation that it didn’t really matter.  A little more than four months ago, I found all the regrets I didn’t have and they came out.

Regrets are a series of rabbit holes – if you go too far in, you may never return.  Even a tiny bit in and once you return, you will be forever changed.  I have learned, as an adult, what it is like to have regrets, and it feels very adult, very old.  I had/have to learn how to live with them, without them consuming me, and trust me, there are days where they invade my every spare moment.

Spare me some time to go down the rabbit hole:

  • I regret that I didn’t spend more time with my Minx.
  • I regret that I didn’t tell her that I loved her as soon as I felt it.
  • I regret that I didn’t go out to the last party she ever went to.
  • I regret not being able to do so many things with her: dates, camping, anniversaries, planting a garden at her house in the spring, spend weekends in bed – laughing and loving, committing myself to her formally, among so many other seemingly small things.
  • I regret not ever getting to introduce her to my parents.

Some of this is mixed with depression, with things I will never get to do with her again, to see with her again, but that, there is nothing for that.  Maybe time.  Not sure.

What I don’t regret (my path out of the holes):

  • I don’t regret meeting her or falling in love with her.
  • I don’t regret the idea or practice of polyamory, the realization of multiple loves which brought us into each others’ lives.
  • I don’t regret the people I’ve met because of her.
  • I don’t regret the love that she brought into my life.
  • I don’t, not for one second, regret telling her that I loved her, even though I only got to say it for one week.
  • I don’t regret calling Trydaen, asking him if he could drive me back from the hospital.  I don’t regret leaning on him, even if he does not understand why.

What I am grateful for:

  • The memories of love and laughter.
  • The bonds that we created – I truly believe that, in a way, they go beyond the grave.
  • Having such wonderful metamours and chosen family.
  • Having such a wonderful partner to lean on when I needed it most.
  • I am grateful for the chance I had to fall in love.
  • Her smile.  I will carry it with me until the day I die.



User Manual

The idea of user manuals for each person to give to those people that they are dating is courtesy of the blogger/podcaster Cunning Minx.  I have had a great deal of difficulty tracking down the podcast/blog entry that first presented this idea, but I wanted to give her credit.

I was introduced to the concept of user manuals awhile ago, I believe through the podcast Sex Is Fun (which is, alas, no more.  Sad faces all around.).  Then I when I first started dating Minx, she sent me hers, which, now that’s she’s gone, is one of the largest and most concrete ways I have of remembering her.  When she sent me hers, I decided it was time for me to write my own, so I did.  I will own up to the fact that I have not updated mine in about six months, but I think there is plenty I could do right now to fix that.

How she structured hers: She started out with a general description of some of her characteristics, then had a little bit more structured format.  The structure looked a little like this: Background/History (where she talks about her family growing up, her relationships, and her triggers and relationship styles), Care and Feeding (what she likes in a relationship and what gets her motors running, and keeps them running), Cheat Codes (easy turn-ons and kinks), Boss Level (sex), Damage Rolls/Possible Ragequits (turn-offs and boundary breakers), and Vetoes (her policy on vetoes).

Rereading her manual reminds me how much I miss her. 😦

How I structured mine: Mine’s a bit more tightly structured with more categories and less in each category.  The structure looks like this: Background (which covers my growing up and my family), My Quirks (little odd things about me — I pulled a portion of this section off my OkCupid profile), Spiritual Beliefs, Food Preferences, My Daily Life, Dating History and Preferences (which could use a little updating, especially to include Minx’s passing, which is significant and thus needs to be noted), Dating Me (date suggestions and social cues for dealing with me in public places), Sexual History and Preferences (contexts for sex), Kink/BDSM (basic things I like, nothing in too much detail), Emotional (how I express emotion and a bit of background; also needs to be updated), Mental (a bit of how my brain works and my mental conditions), and Physical (what I look like, in case it needs to be said).

Personally, I do like the way she structured hers, because it suited her personality – light-hearted and funny, but still serious.  I’d like to think mine suits my personality, but I am not such an objective viewer.  I think the important thing though, is to make your user manual suit your personality, rather than a pre-existing format.



Relationship: Girlfriend/partner (deceased)

How long:  I had known her since about June 2012 (online perhaps before then), and we started dating in February 2013.  She passed away on August 4th, 2013.

How we met originally:  She was one of the hosts for Polystrip 2012 and I had been, for lack of a better term, heckling the hosts for the show before then.  I got volunteered because of my vocalness to be the first person on the Meat Market (dating thingy).  She asked me questions about what I wanted out a person and I stuttered, because, at the time, I wasn’t really looking for anyone to date.  When I was asked about age range, I had no idea how to answer, so I think I put a cap of 32, to which she replied that that was too bad.  I said something about making an exception for the right person.  I am glad that I did make that exception.

What I liked: Her smile, kindness, general optimism, openness, and masochism.

What I didn’t like: Other than answering the obvious (she died too early), I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to answer this question objectively.

What our relationship was like:  It was still very new, so full of light and excitement.  I know, from how she acted and what her other partners have told me, that she was so full of love and energy for me and that makes me happy.  I am glad that I got over my chicken-shitedness and managed to tell her that I loved her (right at the end of a Doctor Who burlesque show she and Raven and I were attending), but I will always regret that that was only a week before her death when I felt it so much earlier.  I am certainly glad I didn’t wait until she was going to say it when she was going to give me a present, because she never had the opportunity to give it to me — I only got it from Raven about a month ago.  She was planning a life with me and I found myself loved and included in a very special way by that action.  I would have loved to have the opportunity to have a wedding or a commitment ceremony with this woman, honoring that unique and precious bond.

What I have learned from this relationship:  Never be afraid to tell someone that you love them because if you don’t, you may regret it later.  Act out of kindness and always be loving to those around you, even when they irk you.  It was through falling in love with this woman that I reinforced my queer identity — not bi or pan, but queer.  Be open about what you want; you won’t get it any other way.  That I am truly a sadomasochist — I love sadism and masochism for entirely different reasons.  That sex can be amazing, even if I am just giving and not being touched at all.

Random tidbits:  We shared a love of Doctor Who.  I attended her wedding with Raven and I felt very happy and compersionate and nothing else.  After her passing, I put aside my plans for a tattoo that I had been thinking about for a long while to get the next tattoo she was going to get (a circle of rainbow hearts — shown after this paragraph).  I found out with her how really amazing fisting can be for the fister; being female it was the first time I got to penetrate a partner with a very touch sensitive portion of my anatomy, feel their heartbeat, feel encompassed by them and it was astonishingly satisfying.  We never really had a first date — the closest was an afternoon where we had lunch at The Armory and spent time at the SciFi Museum in downtown Seattle, but we had been together for a couple months at that point.