“The only way of loving a person is to love them without hope.” ~Walter Benjamin
What does loving without hope mean exactly?
It means being Love itself. It means allowing love to be free. It’s proactive interdependence. It’s being in love with life as it comes. It’s accepting that everything is connected and deciding to be in love with the whole bit: the trauma, the drama, and the mana. It’s loving in an attempt to understand, to discover, and to co-create rather than to control, to own, or to codependently stagnate.
Loving without hope is loving dangerously, courageously, vulnerably and honestly. Which is likely to hurt. Therefore, loving without hope is being open-hearted enough to be okay with having one’s heart broken. In fact, loving without hope is about becoming adept at adapting to heart break. It’s about overcoming the slings and arrows of life and becoming resilient, robust, and antifragile despite the pain.
On a long enough timeline heartbreak is inevitable anyway. So, we might as well get better at adapting to it, at learning from it, at transforming it into something that can make us stronger. Taking risks, loving dangerously, loving vulnerably with our hearts on our sleeve, that’s true courage.
Loving without hope is loving without an agenda. It’s being a true hopeless romantic instead of just talking out our ass about it (Like hopeful or hopefool romantics do). It’s allowing others to love the way they must love. It’s letting go of our ego’s attachment to love. It’s loving at the edge of the human condition: fallible, uncertain, hungry, and in a frenzy. Loving without hope is becoming aware of, and then maintaining, a cosmic connection to the energy that binds all things.
As Rumi said, “Love is the bridge between you and everything.” But he can only show you the bridge. You are the one who must walk over it.
Put the “oxygen mask” of self-love on first:
“Once you fall in love with yourself, their game is over.” ~Alamir Guard
Self-love is paramount. It must be primary, because all notions of love will come from your perception of it. Your ability to love another person is predetermined by your ability to love yourself. Similar to the airplane-crash-landing analogy, “Always put the mask on yourself before assisting someone who may be less capable,” you must put the Mask of Love on yourself before loving someone who may or may not be capable of authentic love.
The irony is that we must first learn self-love to understand that egocentric love isn’t the healthiest way to love. We must first love our ego in order to transform it into an ego that isn’t just in love with itself. An ego that isn’t loved tends to become self-serving and egocentric (codependent or merely independent), but an ego that is loved tends to become self-actualized and soul-centric (interdependent).
An ego that has learned interdependence through self-love is more likely to love authentically and without hope. It is more likely to understand and discover another ego and less likely to control and own another ego. It is more likely to be vulnerable with another ego. And vulnerability is the key to loving greatly. It’s crucial to loving without hope. It’s the secret of deep authenticity.
“Monogamy works well for some but not others. Social status, religion, race, sexual orientation, and political philosophy don’t matter. Honesty, openness, love, commitment, communication, patience, and egalitarianism do.” ~Anita Wagner, Practical Polyamory
The philosophy of love that comes the closest to encompassing love without hope is polyamory. Simply defined as Poly (many) amor (love), but practically described as “consensual, ethical, honest, and responsible non-monogamy.”
Polyamory is being in a state of deep honesty with the human condition regarding the concept of love. It’s loving holistically. A man is every man. A woman is every woman. It’s all connected. It’s all an interdependent dance.
It’s a top-down-top approach to perceiving love. It works down from a cosmic, interdependent, soul-centric perspective of loving holistically (spiritually) down to an independent, ego-centric perspective of loving in the moment (physically), and back up again. It’s breathing in holistic love and breathing out egotistic love.
More importantly, it’s about keeping it all in perspective. It’s about balance. It’s about being primally aware that we are both independent creatures with anxious egos and petty jealousies and interdependent creatures with mysterious souls and the capability for deep compersion.
Being unapologetically polyamorous is about being brutally honest with being a force of love despite the pettiness or sentimentality of the ego. It’s about being upfront, authentic, and forthright as a lover, with neither pity nor placation. But it’s also about unapologetically loving deeply through the ego, loving hungrily, passionately, and vulnerably in the moment despite those clinging to hope (whether it’s the hope for a better past or a better future).
Unapologetic polyamory is choosing “the Eternal Fire of Love” over “the slow Death of the Moth.” It’s being Love: hungry love, fiery love, free love. Love that is free to burn through the darkness and light the way for others. Love that will be fire despite the codependent moths seeking to cling and pigeonhole love into a thing that can be owned. It can never be owned. It can only ever burn.
The secret is this, especially regarding Love: you are not thrown into the fire; you are the fire. Few people understand this. Most people don’t have the wherewithal to be fire. Because they are too damn busy being moths.
Unapologetic polyamory is proactive radical forgiveness in the moment. It’s forgiving yourself for being a creature torn between spirit and flesh, between soul and ego, between mortality and infinity, between being the moth and being fire. It’s forgiving others the same thing and then replacing the anxiety of it all with deep, healthy, authentic, powerful Love. The kind of love fit for a Phoenix: Agape Love.
Be honest with yourself and with your lover(s):
“Why should romance ‘lead anywhere’? Passion isn’t a path through the woods. Passion is the woods. It’s the deepest, wildest part of the forest. Everybody but the most dried up and dysfunctional is drawn to the grove and enchanted by its mysteries, but then they can’t wait to bring in the chain saws and bulldozers and replace it with a family-style restaurant. That’s the payoff, I guess. Safety. Security. Certainty. Yes, indeed. Well, remember this, pussy latte: we are not involved in a ‘relationship,’ you and I, we are involved in a collision. Collisions don’t much lend themselves to secure futures, but the act of colliding is hard to beat for interest. Correct me if I’m wrong.” –Tom Robbins, Half Asleep in Frogs Pajamas
Polyamory isn’t for everybody. But, then again, neither is monogamy. Maybe that’s because love has never been, and will never be, a one-size-fits-all emotion. Love is as multifaceted as the Self is, and both are a mystery.
Honesty is a vital key to loving authentically and without hope. Be brutally honest with yourself. Don’t try to cram the square peg of your monogamous heart into the round hole of polyamory. Similarly, don’t try to wedge the round peg of your poly-heart into the square hole of monogamy.
Life is too short to force yourself to live up to the expectations of others. Even if you love them. As Alfred Kinsey said, “The only unnatural sex act is the one you cannot perform.” So, when it comes to love and sex, do what feels right. Just be honest about what feels right. Both with yourself and with others. But, and here’s the rub, if what feels right to you doesn’t jive with what feels right to your lover(s), and it seems to be a deal-breaker, then you must be able to move on.
Be honest about it. Embrace the pain. Own the pain. Learn from the pain. Love the pain. It’s all a part of the overall dance. If you can make it work, then make it work. But if you can’t, then learn from it, be appreciative, and move on.
Here’s a little humor to lighten the mood: “A man asks, “God, why did you make woman so beautiful?” God responded, “So you would love her.” The man asks, “But God, why did you make her so dumb?” God replied, “So she would love you.”” ~Unknown
“Drop the idea that attachment and love is one thing. They are enemies. It is attachment that destroys all love. If you feed, if you nourish attachment, love will be destroyed; if you feed and nourish love, attachment will fall away by itself. They are not one; they are two separate entities, and antagonistic to each other.” ~Osho
An act of deep love, the defeat of the conditional by the unconditional, overcomes everything. Whether that act of love is monogamous or polyamorous, matters little. What matters is the unconditionality. What matters is the spirituality inherent in the act. Where it’s less about receiving love and more about being love.
Spiritual love is soulcraft turned lovecraft, Agape-style. When you tap into this kind of love, it’s beyond any one individual. It’s beyond you. It’s beyond them. It’s beyond the cultural expectation of what love means. It squeezes the heart. It shocks the mind. It grips the soul. It transcends it all.
It’s infinite, as I wrote in Finite & Infinite Lovers. It’s unconditional, as I wrote in Loving Greatly. It’s triple-edged, as I wrote in The Romantic Trilemma. It’s risky, as I wrote in Loving Dangerously. And it’s revolutionary, as I wrote in Insurgent Love.
At the end of the day, the human condition is a mystery. Love, sex, romance, relationships, are all at once terribly delicious, calamitously tantric, mesmerizingly sticky, catastrophically messy, and profoundly spiritual mysteries that not a single damn one of us has figured out. And yet here we are, going through the motions of vainly attempting to figure it out.
By all means, try to figure it out. Just be open. Be vulnerable. Be authentic. Be courageous. Be honest. And above all, love others without hope. Let other lovers love the way they must love. As Rumi cheekily, yet wisely, surmised, “Let the lover be disgraceful, crazy, absentminded. Someone sober will worry about things going badly. Let the lover be.”
Image: “Love Is s Riot”, by Android Jones.