November 2017
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Love & affection / how affection has waxed and waned in my relationship with my partner


Love and affection are generally understood to be synonyms, differing only in degree. But I see them differently. Love, to me, is a spirit commitment without logic, something that cannot be explained or defined. You love someone just because you do, simple as that -- it cannot be controlled or directed because it has no method. On a subconscious level, I think that love is essentially a recognition of our interconnectedness -- something about that other person reminds you that you have a bond, that you are not alone. For whatever reason, some people remind you of that more than others do, so you feel this bond very strongly with some and not at all with others. It's like we're puzzle pieces -- some of us fit side-by-side, others fit one piece away, and others are far on the other side of the puzzle, but we're all part of the same whole, and love is the force that reminds us of that. People can treat us horribly, but if they are our side-by-side puzzle piece, we are still going to love them.

Affection is different -- it is completely controllable and directable. Affection is a positive feeling that someone else creates in you. If someone does something nice for/to you, that creates affection in you, and if they do something that gives you negative feelings, that destroys the affection they've created in you. You cannot create true affection for someone else within yourself, although you can pretend that it is there when it is not. And you cannot always create affection in someone else, because if they like, they can block it out. The only way affection can be created is if one person creates it in another, who allows them to do so.

A healthy deep relationship needs both love and affection. Love, which motivates us to create the relationship in the first place, and motivates us to work through the low-affection times. And affection, to fuel the relationship and nourish both people. A relationship can continue for a time with an imbalance of affection, but that imbalance itself is an affection-destroyer, so if left unchecked it will eventually bring the relationship to a halt.

In my relationship with my partner, we've always had love for each other, but affection has waxed and waned. For the first year of our marriage, I created a TON of affection in zir, and ze created some in me. The second year, I was going through intense counseling for the sexual abuse I went through as a child, and I had little to no energy to spend on him, so that year ze created affection in me and I did not create it in zir. But ze had so much left from the year before that it carried zir through (though it was draining on both of us). Then the third year I began creating affection in zir again, but ze stopped, for the most part. The affection ze had created in me slowly dwindled over that year until this January, I had completely run out, and I felt no affection for zir at all. That terrified me because I thought affection and love were the same thing, and I thought that it would be a permanent state -- but ze convinced me it wouldn't be permanent, and we began making changes. After a ton of work removing all kinds of problems that destroyed affection, we began to create affection in each other again and now I feel more affectionate toward zir than I ever have before. And I feel more confident in it because we have conquered so many affection-destroying habits. Nowadays, we're pretty good at creating affection and keeping it! Which allows us to realize love on deeper and deeper levels. ♥

I realize all of this might sound a little too... structured. I don't see love or affection as an equation, I assure you! It is still inexplicable magic to me at the same time. ;-)

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Comments
mourningdoveava ══╣╠══
Given my recent debacle with the ripples lately in Dani and I's relationship, the talk about affection in particular makes a lot of sense to me (and insofar as the talk about love goes, I love the puzzle metaphor!)

I like the idea of affection as a controllable thing and that's something Dani and I have been working with lately too - making very deliberate efforts on both our parts to do x, y, and z (or not do q, r, and p)in an effort to keep increasing the affection we give to each other. It's nice to know that ultimately we, as people, can have sway over our relationships and how they progress and that we can, as you put it, work toward realising love on deeper and deeper levels.

All of this is very well put. :)
belenen ══╣gentle╠══
It is indeed an empowering realization ♥

thanks for the compliment!
delicatexflower ══╣happy; esotsm - clem - "yey!"╠══

ooh, i love your thoughts on love & affection!

i agree with you. i love you related it to a puzzle.

heh. ♥

i totally thought of my boyfriend the whole time
when i read this... is that a good thing? i think
so :)
belenen ══╣transfixed╠══
thanks! :D

and yes, definitely a good thing ;-)
lorelei_sakti ══╣╠══
Belenen, you're awesome! You give me hope for the future. I hear so many women in their 40's complaining about their marriages, but you and Ben work so hard at yours that I believe you won't have a tenth of their problems. There is hope for us all!
belenen ══╣progressing╠══
awww, thanks! :D

I think it's more like we packed most of our issues into the beginning of our relationship, heh. I think those people who have serious issues 10-20 years into the marriage have those issues because they don't have the practice of searching out and dealing with issues ASAP, like we do. ;-)
tempestanima ══╣╠══
Thank you for helping make the point that relationships don't just make themselves. Passivity is one of the greatest dangers in a love relationship - apathy, decay...

Only constant vigilance, effort, and nurturing can make a relationship grow.
belenen ══╣progressing╠══
Only constant vigilance, effort, and nurturing can make a relationship grow.

I totally agree! *hugs*
rockstarjoker4 ══╣╠══
you've got such intense insight into relationships, you should really write a book.

If it's not too personal a question, could you explain (or maybe give just a few examples of) affection destroying habits?
belenen ══╣analytical╠══
awwwww, thanks so much!

hmmm, that's a hard question, since I tend to push them out of my mind as soon as they're dealt with. One that was a HUGE issue was that I used to have a habit of raising my voice when I got angry, and even though I didn't see anything wrong with it, it was definitely an affection-destroying thing for Ben, so I trained myself out of it. For me, Ben used to get destructive when angry, slamming things around, and I found that really frightening and hurtful, so he trained himself out of that. Then there are smaller things like him putting shoes in a designated place instead of in the middle of the floor, or me refraining from being cuddly when he's having asthma problems. ;-)
brassdaughter ══╣stardust╠══
I love what you say about love! Some of the most meaningful relationships I have are with people I knew I would grow to love dearly from the moment we met, with no choice or apparent reason in the matter at all. Souls know their own circles.

So happy to hear that things are beautiful with Ben. *beams*
belenen ══╣vivacious╠══
thank you! and I agree that souls know their own circles ♥

thank you! *beams back*
brighid0704 ══╣╠══
I really like your puzzle analogy. What an excellent way of explaining relationships, and how they're shaped.

I'm glad you an Ben are able to be affectionate again. It sounds like you two have a really great relationship. Congrats.
belenen ══╣interconnectedness╠══
thank you!

and thanks again :D
sabr ══╣╠══
I am glad that you and Ben have figured all this out, and you have reinstilled affection - it is very important. Brad and I are working on similar issues right now, so this was really good to read.

In other news, I've got your email, and Kazi does too. We're communication procrastinators - all of us. I'm not really sure how to move past that, but I think that we will. I just wanted to let you know that. :)
belenen ══╣transfixed╠══
thank you! and I'm glad it came at the right time for you. ♥

thank you for letting me know, I really appreciate it. ;-)
oh_loverrr ══╣╠══
I don't see love or affection as an equation

even though you don't see an equation between the two, i think you perfectly surmised what people mean when they say that marriages are a give and take of things. most people assume that the "give and take" pertains to learning to comprimise, to put your spouse's needs before your own. but in truth, marriages require a constant balance of love and affection...giving and taking of each on the scale until it equals happiness for both parties involved. it is an equation, i think. but it varies for each couple, and it's constantly changing. and that's the *magic* of it. :-) or that's what i think, at least.
belenen ══╣ethereal╠══
yes. ;-) I suppose I meant that I don't see it as MERELY an equation, but rather as an equation plus magic ;-D
spindell ══╣╠══
Hmm... that's cool. I kinda see things the same way, except I give it different labels. The unconscious force I call "attraction", and the conscious I term "love". Same principle though. If you're not both working together to fill each other's "love tanks", then it's bloody hard to keep a relationship loving or affectionate! it's essentially the same as you've said.

*hugs*
belenen ══╣analytical╠══
very true! cool that you have similar views!

*hugs back*
juansrx ══╣*ugl1╠══
You are rigth..even in the degree of damage they can make, love and affection are very different.

Love hurts, affection just scratches...

But love can make you live in the happiest place in the world, the happiest place you can imagine, it can make you dream really jolly situations...affection can´t make that...I think...
belenen ══╣garrulous╠══
ahh, yes, I hadn't thought about the flip side but you're right!
on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.