“The lover lives the relationship with passion, devotion and romanticism. The loved one just likes to be adored”
– La Casa de Papel –
I was casually lounging in bed with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon in my right hand. On my computer screen, a handful of thieves in a red jumpsuit wearing a Dalì mask are in the middle of an intense argument on the law of love. It wasn’t until Palermo, the egomaniac asshole who’s in charge of the robbery, enlightens everyone on his status as the “loved one” that made me thought of my past relationships. At first, I felt terrible for Helsinki, the war veteran with a tender heart who has a one-sided crush for Palermo. I thought, “oh great, another gay man who has unrequited feelings for a dickhead with commitment issues!” However, just like me in every relationship ever, Helsinki makes the choice of compromising his own needs for another physical validation by agreeing to a one-night stand with Palermo. And my question to that is, why?
Palermo argues that in a relationship, there will always be the lover and the loved one. He says, “the lover lives the relationship with passion, devotion, and romanticism.” The lovers are the people who continuously put more effort into keeping the relationship alive. These are the people who send good morning texts daily, who initiate the after-lunch coffee date, or who throw around the idea of marriage three times in a week. These are the people who are more likely to be called “the clingy one” in a relationship. The lovers are the worker bees of a relationship.
And there’s the loved one. The loved ones are the people who simply “like to be adored.” They enjoy the affection and devotion their lovers give, regardless of whether the loved ones are willing to reciprocate the feelings or not. These are the people who get driven to the nail salon for their manicures. These are the people who only reply to your heartfelt texts with a wink emoji. Have you met one of those boys who loves laying on his back while getting his body worshipped and calls himself a dom top? That boy is the epitome of the loved one. The loved ones are the queen bees of a relationship.
So, what’s the problem if both parties consent to take their respective roles?
It’s only problematic because, at the end of the day, the lovers suffer too much. And often, I found myself being a lover in my relationships.
Can two people love each other equally?
Can two people be genuinely happy to coexist in a romantic relationship where one person spends more time satisfying their partner, but not vice-versa?
I unconsciously found myself to fill the role of the lover in all of my relationships. Whenever I have the slightest interest in a guy, I always step on the gas pedal with full force, ignoring any road signs on my path. It’s a motherfuckin’ road rage, y’all. Although I won’t go into the first dates in an opulent Vera Wang wedding gown, I won’t waste any time indicating my interest to my potential suitors. I ain’t got no time to play the bait and switch game with my men; they will know that my body and soul are ready for pollination. I don’t care if some of you will call me thirsty or desperate. I would like to think that I’m determined and goal-oriented.
Is it safe for me to draw a comparison between a romantic relationship between a lover and loved one, and a parent-child relationship? Because, just like the lovers do to their loved ones, parents always give their undivided attention to their children. The babies, however, only respond to their parents’ affection by giving them headaches, making endless demands, and annoying their parents with their loud cries at midnight.
Ok, maybe that comparison sounds like a reach… but you get my point.
Chasing someone who’s addicted to the thrill of being chased and nothing else can be mentally draining.
I think the main reason for the mental exhaustion a lover might experience is the innumerable possibilities of rejection. The logic for the statement above is pretty simple: you can only fail if you try. You can only be disappointed when you have expectations. You can only feel the wound of rejection if you act first, and no matter how bad it is, rejection always hurts. Fortunately, for the loved ones, they go through a relationship at a much lower risk of feeling the pain of rejection. The lovers, on the contrary, are the sole inhabitant of the hyper-romantic universe. They are, inherently, creatures built on wishful thinkings and irresistible impulses to perform grand romantic gestures. So you can probably guess who gets hurt more in this situation.
Have you ever tried so hard to please someone, and nothing seems to make them happy? Or worse, the other person responds to your devotion with fake smiles, so they won’t emotionally hurt you? That shit hurts like a motherfucker.
Obviously, the skewed power dynamic between a lover and a loved one might vastly differ in every relationship. For one couple, their biggest struggle might be a bossy loved one who holds the veto power over their lunch options (fries for life, bitches!). On the other end of the spectrum, the struggle can be about a lover being trapped inside a platonic love story, with the loved one selfishly toying with the lover’s unrealistic expectations. No matter what the arrangement is, there will always be one party who gives more and another party who receives more.
I mean… there’s a legit reason why the question of “who wears the pants in the relationship?” is still often thrown around. We don’t think twice when we try to answer that archaic question. We deem such a concept to be an absolute. As outdated as that question might sound, we collectively understand that a perfectly equal partnership does not exist.
Reflecting back on my past relationships, I always had a tendency to unreasonably compromise on my own needs. For instance, whenever my loved ones want to spice things up or have a different arrangement in the partnership, it’s always my job to accommodate my partner’s wishes. Instead of participating, I ended up assimilating. I was a tireless working bee, foolishly serving my queen bees with little to no emotional reward.
Upon further analysis, I have plenty of issues that stop me from putting myself first, such as fear of being alone, superficiality, and self-esteem issues. I keep brushing these issues off and continue pouring my heart and soul to these undeserving men, foolishly thinking that one day, things might change. That maybe, just maybe, if I continue setting myself on fire, my painstaking efforts would be reciprocated (follow me on Instagram: @overdramaticpoet69). Unfortunately, a relationship is not a turn-based strategy game where there’s a definite possibility of a counter-reaction. It might not sound fair, but it is what it is.
I would like to end this chapter with a tidal wave of thought-provoking questions, which were made possible by the generous, unequivocal support of Pinot noir. Because if there’s a time in the history of mankind where day-drinking is viewed as a socially-accepted pastime, it would be right now. *violently chugging the last sips of my wine*
So, can one avoid being the lover in a relationship? Are there any steps one can take to prevent one from falling into the trap of excessively loving someone? Or, if one is destined to be a lover for life, is there a way to alleviate the steady pain of a one-sided infatuation? Can a lover love hard enough that one day, they turn into the loved one? Is that all that there is to a relationship? That one person has to suffer more in exchange for an allegedly “healthy relationship?” Knowing all of these, why would lovers be willing to get into any form of relationship? Can someone explain to me the rationale behind this nonsense?!
P.S. This self-isolation thing really brings the most out of my melancholic side. The lack of human touch can really mess a person up, huh?
P.P.S. Sorry for the lack of a coherent ending to the chapter. Just like the Game of Thrones writers, I’m way too intoxicated to come up with an epic conclusion that would please everyone. My bad! However, this blog is a monarchy, and I’m the queen. I get to choose whatever the fuck I want to write about.