Coffee Date #9: Many Kinds of Love

On Singles' Day and putting romantic love on a pedestal

Hey friends!

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Many kinds of love

So apparently today is “Singles’ Day”. I just learned that this was a thing about an hour ago, when I sat down at my desk and started wondering what this week’s newsletter was going to be about.

Singles’ Day began in China but is now acknowledged in various places across the world. While my initial reaction was to roll my eyes and think “another made up holiday,” the more I think about it, the more the concept actually makes sense.

Our society, like many others, is obsessed with romantic love and (a specific type of) partnered relationship. This leads many people to believe their life isn’t complete if they’re not in a relationship. This is even reflected in the language we use when we talk about romantic partners (“other half” and so on.)

The problem with this is that it’s inherently limiting. It places a specific type of love (a committed and monogamous romantic relationship) as being central to happiness and more important than other kinds of love and relationships.

As a polyamorous person, the idea that there are not just many possible loves but many possible kinds of love is central to how I do relationships. There’s the kind of love I have for my life-partner, the person I’m building a home with. There’s the “fiercely loving and committed, but not entangling our lives” kind I have with my secondary partner. There’s the love I have for my best friend, who I’ll never fuck but who is one of the most important people in the world to me. There’s the comets, the people I see and share wonderful experiences with when I can. And so on and so on. Endless kinds of love for endless relationship possibilities.

Even if you’re monogamous, you’ll have many kinds of love in your life. Romantic love is different to family love is different to friendship love. You probably love the friend you go out dancing with in a different way to the friend who spill all your darkest secrets to.

And then there’s self-love.

If 2020 and all its trials have taught me one thing, it’s the importance of self-love and self-care. And I’m not just talking about the bubble-baths-and-cosy-blankets version of self-care, though that’s important too. I’m talking about dragging myself off the couch for long enough to do some exercise when I’m in a bone-numbing depression. Drinking water. Taking meds. Making sure my bills are paid. The messy, unglamorous, day to day work of living and of staying alive amidst the most challenging year in living memory.

I’ve never been very good at self-love. I got much better at it in 2020, because it became a necessity to just functioning every day.

I haven’t actually been single since I was 14 years old. I’ll be honest: even though I’m super happy with where I ended up, I wish I’d taken more time to myself along the way. By jumping from one (bad) relationship to another, it wasn’t until I finally landed in a GOOD relationship at age 25 that I was able to really find out who Amy is. Would I be different if I’d spent some time by myself sometime in the last decade and a half? Yes, probably.

Being in relationships is wonderful (if it’s something you want, and it isn’t for everyone.) But being single can also be amazing - for a little while or for a few years or for a lifetime. Romantic love is amazing, but it does not complete us. Being in love is life-changing, but it is not necessary for a complete and fulfilled life.

So let’s stop asking our single friends when they’re going to “settle down.” Let’s stop referring to partners as someone’s “other half” (or, if we must, at least think critically about the implications.) Let’s stop acting as though people who are single live a less happy life, are less fulfilled, or need to be pitied. Instead, let’s celebrate all the different amazing kinds of love that exist, both romantic and non.

Because we need all the love we can get right now.

This week on the blog

Sexy deals of the week

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Reads, watches, listens

Reading… Like nearly everyone else in the world, I’ve been pretty much glued to the news and the US election updates for the last couple of weeks. It’s a weird cross between doomscrolling and just watching a really bizarre alternate reality play out. Several times a day, I pause and ask myself “how is this REAL!?”

Watching… On the recommendation of several friends, my current comfort-watching is Grace and Frankie. It’s silly and sweet and it makes me laugh. (Favourite quote so far: “I will MAKE room for cheese!”) I also binged the fifth and final season of You Me Her this week, which was as ridiculous as the other four seasons. I spent most of the time wanting to yell “COMMUNICATION!"“ at the screen.

Listening… I found an “Election 2020” playlist on Spotify last week which I’ve been returning to whenever I need to feel a bit of hope.

Last word

Thanks for being with me again this week, everyone. Your support really does mean so much to me. The blog and everything associated with it might be an Actual Job now, but it was always a labour of love first. Your kindness and generosity in sharing your time and this conversation with me keeps me coming back each day.

Finally: got a sex and relationships question? I’m trying to revitalise the “Ask Amy” column. Please email me or drop me a line on Twitter. No question is silly and anonymity will always be respected!

See you in two weeks. Until then, be safe and keep moving - we’ve got this.

Amy x