Dangerous Compassions

what love is

what love is

Hello, how are you doing?  I wrote a poem a few years ago about what love is.  I printed it on pink cardstock and drew some little doodles, four poems to a page, and cut the page into fourths for pink postcards.  It was my Valentine, about three and a half years ago.

I used to keep a copy of this poem on the cork board in the guest room of our house.  I hoped that visitors would read it and could keep in mind what they meant to me, and who I wanted to be in their life.  Clarifying about love felt refreshing and helped me feel safe.

what I mean when I say I love you
a valentine from Laura-Marie

I want what’s best for you on your terms.
I’m willing to be there for you.
I feel deeply connected to you.
I want to help you on your journey,
a force of good in your life.
something important in me resonates
with something important in you,
something good that we share.
I want to see you as you are,
as you see me as I am.
whether you need ideas, affection, space,
to be known, to be heard, or a new thing,
I want to give that to you joyfully.
I’ll be vulnerable and honest with you.
you’re worth my time and energy.
I’ll be close to you without controlling you.
you’re sacred to me.

The poem was accurate to that time, and still mostly accurate today, covering my perspective about what love is.  What is love to you?


I had a longterm friend who things felt confusing with.  When I was a teenager, I was in love with him.  For a long time I saw something special in him.  We would go our separate ways, but I kept circling back, over the years.

But we never lived in the same town, and I never spent much time with him in regular life.  We shared poems, letters, ideas, values, fantasies, a few phone calls, and a handful of visits.  One day he said he loved me.

A decade before, he told me that when we were teenagers.  But it was my first time hearing it from him when we were adults.  I didn’t know what he meant, so I asked, “What do you mean, when you say you love me?”  Things had been moving in a sexy direction, and he’s a polyamorous person.  It was nice he was saying something positive to me, but what love is differs greatly from person to person.


I wanted to do something clear, responsible, fun, and consensual with this friend.  That’s why I asked–he was worth asking.  When he never answered my question, I felt hurt and mostly done trying to be close to him.  If I wasn’t even worth answering the question, the love didn’t seem very real.

Some people use “I love you” as a bargaining tool or for flat out manipulation.  I got the feeling my friend wanted to fuck around, like so many people do, especially men.  I show up with my whole self and want to do love for the long haul.  Other people often prefer popping in to get needs met, and popping out as desired.  It can hurt.

It’s not that I’m looking to marry everyone.  But I do need more consistency, clarity, and solid being there than your average bear.


It depends what you’re looking for.  I’m constantly looking for family.  Ming is wonderful family, and then there are the people I check in with every day, who I consider my temporary chosen family.  They are dear to me and help me stay well.

I’m an outlier introvert who loves really hard.  It doesn’t make sense to some people, but I have more friends than I can show up for.  I’m not keen on meeting new people.  It’s exhausting, and I run the risk of liking them very much and needing to expend a lot of energy on them.  It reminds me of my favorite Jane Austen quote.  It’s something like, “I’d rather that people were not agreeable, because it saves me the trouble of liking them very much.”

I only have a lil bit of social energy per day.  Realistically, I need to spend it on friends who are there for me, who I feel safe with, and who I learn from and have fun with.

There are three people I’ve loved for a long time and want to write letters to.  And there are a couple phone calls I want to make to people far away, who I need to hear their voice.  My time gets used up on day to day things.  I look up and a week has passed.  I’m sorry, and we will all die someday.  Some sooner than others.


I’m not a party, drugs, movies, tv, games person.  I like dancing, especially ecstatic dance.  Making art together is fun, and music.  I like touch with people I feel safe with.  Shared work like Food Not Bombs can be special.

But mostly I want one on one conversation, telling our truths, and sharing our hearts.  That can be long distance or in person.  Deep vulnerability is my favorite part of love.  Shooting the shit feels mostly like a waste of time, for me.  I’m so bad at casual.  Often I like daily or not at all.

what love is

Other people can do love however they want.  For me, I like family love including mother love.  Caring for people like–are you an ok temperature?  Do you want some of these beans?  How is your foot doing?  I care about your needs, and I want to help them get met, if you would like assistance.

As long as I’m not being hurt, used, or deceived, I want to show up for that.  But it takes a lot of energy and paying attention to the person in front of me.  We don’t all need the same things.

A lot of people want sex, then a break, and more sex.  Or they want to talk for ten minutes at a party, and that’s fine.  I don’t fault people for being different from me, as long as everyone’s honest.  But honest is too rare.

I’m looking for long term, sustained deep respect and authentic knowing.  That usually takes me some time.  And I’m extra bad at trust lately.


An aspect of love I’ve been thinking about lately is shared burdens and shared resources.  There needs to be boundaries too, of course.  I’ve been crying missing my mom, and part of what I miss is how we shared resources–almost everything.  If someone has a lot and I have a little, the imbalance can make connection hard.

And people who think I should be able to carry my burdens alone, seems like a whole different world view than what I’m doing.  I’m disabled, and interdependence is appropriate.  If you don’t want to interdepend with me, that’s fine.  I keep a list of friends who do, and I’m happy to spend my energy with them.

Also lately I’ve been seeing people as D&D characters.  I rolled very poorly for agility and energy.  I don’t have any money in my purse or good swords.  But I rolled the maximum for paying attention, planning, cooking veg food, writing.

We’re all on a slidey for so many different things.  Some of that we can control, but lots of it we can’t.  It’s mostly neutral.  I don’t want to hate anyone for not being how I need them to be.  And I don’t want to be hated, for my differences.  More like–we are not the right persons for one another, and move on.  The world is full of people.

By Laura-Marie

Good at listening to the noise until it makes sense.

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