Love With Abandon

 

If you are trying to control love or fit it into your life, says Mark D. White, don’t bother. Let it change you.

These days we often hear the same advice with respect to so many things: moderation. Eat, drink, exercise, watch TV, spend money… all in moderation. The point is obvious: neither too much nor too little. Neither indulge nor abstain, but instead find balance, the middle road, the golden mean. Four out of five philosophers agree (and the fifth one probably died from excess).

This is all well and good. But not in love.

Prudence and caution have no role in love. Love should not be moderated. Romance implies abandon. Romantic gestures are often absurd, the stuff of viral YouTube videos and stories you pass on to your kids and grandkids. They don’t fit nicely into schedules or budgets—and that’s the point. They’re romantic because they don’t make sense.

This goes for small romantic gestures too. Coffee in bed, a note with lunch, a “I ♥ U” text in the middle of the day—these are not things that “need” to be done or that advance some greater plan. These things show that someone took time out of his or her busy day to send you a message, that someone chose to think about you rather than any of the million other things he or she had to think about. These things don’t make sense from a rational, deliberative, planning point-of-view. And they’re very romantic for it.

Here are some more things we often say about love that reflect caution and prudence, but don’t belong in the world of love and romance:

  • “Let’s slow things down.” Why would you ever want to do that? Life is short—if you find someone you like and who doesn’t run away from you, then go for it.
  • “I need some time.” We all need time, but what are you possibly going to do with it that’s better than spending it with a person who makes your heart race? What are you spending that time doing, anyway? Probably wondering if you should be with this person instead of just being with this person. Spend time deliberating about your cell phone plan, not romance.
  • “I don’t have room in my life for this now.” Because everything you have going on right now is so important that it doesn’t leave a second for a special someone. Because nothing that matters to you could actually mean more with someone to share it with. Because you think love is a competing priority rather than a complementary presence. It’s not either/or—it can be both, and both is great.
  • “I don’t want to get hurt again.” Sure, just prolong the dull ache of loneliness instead. That’s much better. And never mind the euphoria before the pain, that doesn’t count, no, not at all. (Please.) We all know that being afraid to live is to accept death far too early—why don’t we think the same way when it comes to love?

We are so careful about everything these days—and in many ways this is good—but love and romance need an attitude of abandon. When you find love you jump in with both feet. You grab it and hold onto it for as long as it lasts. True, sometimes a love only lasts a couple months, or a couple weeks, or even a couple days. But however long it lasts, that’s time you got to spend in the closest thing to heaven that we can experience while there’s still breath in our bodies.

Don’t worry about whether love fits into your life—it will change your life.

Don’t try to manage love—just let it envelop you.

Don’t try to control love—it doesn’t work anyway!

Just embrace it.

photo: angryjuliemonkey / flickr

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About Mark D White

Mark D. White is a professor in the Department of Political Science, Economics, and Philosophy at the College of Staten Island/CUNY, where he teaches courses in economics, philosophy, and law. He has written and edited a number of scholarly and popular books, and blogs at Psychology Today, Economics and Ethics, and The Comics Professor.

Comments

  1. Mac McGowan says:

    Loved this article with abandon!

  2. Julie Gillis says:

    I just adore this. Absolutely.

  3. There is no other way to love –or live– for that matter, than to throw yourself into it with wild abandon. Sure, certain things require thought and careful planning. Like building furniture from IKEA, retirement funds, or job hunting. But Love is not one of those things. Love is what makes you get on a train to meet someone you just met online the week before and spend 9 days with that person. Even if it doesn’t work out the way either of you expected it becomes one of those stories which brings a smile to your face. The stuff of legend. It absolutely doesn’t make sense but it is absolutely amazing and completely worth it.

  4. Cool. Now I can have that affair with that woman I have a crush on. No limits! The opportunity won’t last forever! When my partner gets mad at me, I’ll just point her to this article.

    • Mark D White says:

      Ha ha. I meant abandoning caution and prudence, not ethics and respect.

    • So…ignore those pesky things like restraining orders, haivng e-mail blocked, her getting married to someone else, etc. Throw out carefulness and stalk until you get what you want???

      • Stalking and love have zero in common. I am pretty sure he meant not to give up so soon and once in love don’t hold back out of fear of rejection, getting hurt, or whatever other fears prevent you from loving wholeheartedly. There are some people who fear being swept away by love that even when they meet the love of their lives they still fear love. Some Guy you answered your own question. Stalking is about getting what you want as in stalking prey to hang on your wall as something you conquered. Some men see love as a conquest. It is not. Love is about giving not getting. Love is about surrendering not to your beloved, not to yourself, but to love itself. When you surrender to love, your ego must also surrender. This is what most people struggle with! Sending lots of love your way Some Guy!

        • I agree that stalking isn’t love. But, of course, stalkers never see themselves as stalkers. From their point of view, they’re keeping love alive or clinging onto a fantasy. Many of them see themselves as romantics keeping the relationship alive. Many of them would send this kind of article to the person being stalked and say “look, love is about giving in to your beloved and taking a risk and taking the leap”….

          All I’m saying is this is all nice and romantic and inspiring in principle, but in practice it can be a little warped sometimes.

          • Some Guy,

            People do have a hard time deciphering love from lust from control from infatuation from emotional attachment, etc. If you click on my username, I actually wrote a funny article about how to know the difference between love and lust. By request from a man at a bar who has been trying to win a love back for five years, I am working on one about when to know when it’s over. I was aiming it in order to help the person trying to win her/him back avoid being hurt again. Now I might incorporate the stalking element. I never considered the stalker may actually think he/she is being loving by stalking. Thanks for the new perspective.

            “but in practice it can be a little warped sometimes.”

            I interpret Mark as meaning to abandon fear of loving, rather than being careless or abandon all logic. I can see how people may associate abandon with throwing all caution to the wind. I think that perspective has more to do with being a society of excess and where freedom means I can do whatever I want. Just as freedom actually requires one to accept responsibility so does being in love.

            Burned and Hurt,

            I am sure that women do the same. Furthermore, men are told not to feel emotion, to be hard, to man up, to toughen up then all of sudden we expect them to grow up one day and love. I am not making excuses for men but this is a hindrance. One they must grow past in order to love without fear and to love without it being about conquering a woman’s heart but giving a woman their heart and their love. Personally after being hurt myself, I resisted love for a long time and was very resentful about it. I made all the excuses Mark mentioned plus some. My view on love was pessimistic until I began to read Rumi and gained a deeper understanding of love. You must love yourself first to even be able to love. We all know the phrase love thy neighbor as you love thyself. We often forget the thyself part. Without self love it is impossible to love others. Another realization when you love, you don’t horde it until the “right” person comes around. You give that love to yourself, your family, friends, strangers, etc. Love is something you practice not just something that happens to you. Love is not about need or attachment but about wanting to love someone with no hidden agendas and with wanting nothing in return. Below are two of my favorite Rumi quotes on love that apply to this awesome post. I don’t like how he personifies love as a woman because it implies that all women innately love in this way, when it’s not always true, and that men are incapable of such type of love but it’s still a nice quote. We can forgive him considering he is a 13th century Persian poet.
            1. “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

            2. Love is reckless; not reason.
            Reason seeks a profit.
            Love comes on strong,
            consuming herself, unabashed.

            Yet, in the midst of suffering,
            Love proceeds like a millstone,
            hard surfaced and straightforward.

            Having died of self-interest,
            she risks everything and asks for nothing.
            Love gambles away every gift God bestows.

            Without cause God gave us Being;
            without cause, give it back again.

  5. wellokaythen says:

    I think what the two “Guys” are trying to work out is that of course when you fall in love you should love with abandon and be carefree with it, except of course when it comes to x, y, z, and all the other exceptions that don’t seem to count. There’s another article elsewhere on GMP about a man who fell in love with a married woman. Did he love with abandon the way that he was supposed to, or was he careful in just the right way?

    There are feelings that sure feel like falling in love but which are not really being in love. We should love freely and don’t be so cautious, but at the same time make sure that it really is love before we pursue it? Be careful but not too careful, and pursue love as long as you’re sure that it is love, but if it’s not then don’t do it? No wonder people may be overly cautious.

    I think TG and SG are saying that this sentiment is something that many people live by even when they’re doing something wrong. There are plenty of stalker types out there who see themselves as romantic, never-give-up-on-your dreams types. They’re nodding their heads to all this.

  6. burnt and hurt says:

    “I care about you, but I don’t want to re-invent myself.” OR “I love you, but I’m not in love with you.” OR “I love you, but I don’t want a relationship.” Why does a guy put himself out there and then after saying these things, still wants to maintain contact on a weekly basis? I know what women say the reasons are, but I’d like to hear what men say is the cause of this strange & hurtful behavior.

  7. Sorry I thought it would go at the bottom of all the comments. Lol.

    Burned and Hurt,

    I am sure that women do the same. Furthermore, men are told not to feel emotion, to be hard, to man up, to toughen up then all of sudden we expect them to grow up one day and love. I am not making excuses for men but this is a hindrance. One they must grow past in order to love without fear and to love without it being about conquering a woman’s heart but giving a woman their heart and their love. Personally after being hurt myself, I resisted love for a long time and was very resentful about it. I made all the excuses Mark mentioned plus some. My view on love was pessimistic until I began to read Rumi and gained a deeper understanding of love. You must love yourself first to even be able to love. We all know the phrase love thy neighbor as you love thyself. We often forget the thyself part. Without self love it is impossible to love others. Another realization when you love, you don’t horde it until the “right” person comes around. You give that love to yourself, your family, friends, strangers, etc. Love is something you practice not just something that happens to you. Love is not about need or attachment but about wanting to love someone with no hidden agendas and with wanting nothing in return. Below are two of my favorite Rumi quotes on love that apply to this awesome post. I don’t like how he personifies love as a woman because it implies that all women innately love in this way, when it’s not always true, and that men are incapable of such type of love but it’s still a nice quote. We can forgive him considering he is a 13th century Persian poet.
    1. “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

    2. Love is reckless; not reason.
    Reason seeks a profit.
    Love comes on strong,
    consuming herself, unabashed.

    Yet, in the midst of suffering,
    Love proceeds like a millstone,
    hard surfaced and straightforward.

    Having died of self-interest,
    she risks everything and asks for nothing.
    Love gambles away every gift God bestows.

    Without cause God gave us Being;
    without cause, give it back again.

  8. You welcome love! = )

  9. I think that above all else in love, you do need to plan and use extreme caution. It’s dangerous. It’s too easy to get carried away and not see the other person start to leave. Love is a dangerous thing and it’s best not to fool around with it. I was in love, a few times actually, and time and time again I was left because I didn’t meet the criteria that the toher person wanted. I did the gestures and such but in thend what mattered was how socialibly compatible was I to the person. Did I make enough money. (Don’t think that’s important? Ask yourself how offen money is the source of arguements in a relationship) I was of the wrong faith. ( I don’t believe in god) I was too old, or too young… in short, love is too dangerous to just waltz on in. I’d rather plan and build and make. Better ready than not.

  10. Manticore says:

    This is absolute nonsense. Given the way women are these days rushing into a relationship with wild abandon is a recipe for unmitigated disaster.

    Almost every man out there has seen romantic relationships devastate the life of at least one of his friends, which is exactly why many are refusing to become romantically involved at all. If anything we need MORE caution than ever before.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Love With Abandon challenges us all to take love where we find it, when we find it, and to allow ourselves into the living of life, no matter the pain it might bring, rather than sinking into a half numb state in hopes of avoiding heart break. [...]

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