I’m wearing a wristband from the Human Rights Awareness week that says “Love is Love”. I like this quote because it is basically saying that love is not bound by culture, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or any other thing we humans use to separate one another. I heard a student say last night that it is human nature to want to categorize and put each other into groups. I don’t mind being part of a group. What I do mind is people believing I shouldn’t talk to, be friends with, date, have sex with or marry someone outside of that group.
I don’t really write on my blog about my personal beliefs too often. This blog is about helping students and anyone else who may read it deal with relationship or sexual issues. However, in today’s post I want to share my perspective on love and relationships. I’m of the mind set “live and let live”. I have my own beliefs about things, but I don’t like to impose those beliefs onto others. If what you’re doing makes you happy and it isn’t hurting me in any way, then it really isn’t my business. Some people think as a counselor it is my job to tell people what to do. It is not. It is my job to listen to people’s stories and try to understand where they are coming from. I then try to offer my knowledge on the subject to help a person understand why certain things may be happening in their life. I may ask questions or offer speculations based on past experience. It is then up to the person in my office to use that information to make their own decisions about things. Unless I think someone may hurt themselves or someone else, I usually don’t tell people what to do with their lives.
Like I said, my main job is to listen. I have heard hundreds of personal stories. I have been given a gift of being able to put myself inside those stories and feel, in a way, how those people felt. It has really given me a unique perspective on life. I feel like I experience a lot of things second hand that I myself may never live through. Kind of like reading a book or watching a movie. I can get caught up in someone’s story. Because of this I feel like I have been in all types of relationships. I have seen love cross all kinds of lines and cause people do things way outside of their character. Love is an enormously powerful emotion. This is why it bothers me when people want to put restrictions on it. In my mind the only restriction is to protect yourself from someone who is trying to hurt you. You may still love them, but you don’t deserve to be hurt by someone emotionally, physically or sexually. That is the only line I draw.
I have watched all different types of couples in love. Never once have I seen a couple and determined how much they were able to love each other by their skin color, sexual orientation, gender, age, religious faith or cultural background. If you’re black does that mean you would have the best relationship with another black person? Maybe, but maybe not. Maybe you would relate or get along better with someone of a different racial background. When people say a man loving another man isn’t “right”, I wonder what does that mean? Right? When I think of love being “right” I think of it as not being hateful. My love isn’t “right” if I am being mean to the person. Or if I’m ignoring their needs. Or if I’m impatient with them. Or if I hold a grudge against them. Those aren’t “right” ways to love someone.
However, saying that two men loving each other isn’t right. Or that an Asian man can’t love an Irish woman. Or that there is no way a person could fall in love with both a man or woman (meaning they are bisexual). Or a Christian shouldn’t love someone Jewish. Really? Who am I to make those claims? I get to choose who I want to love and that is it. I don’t get to choose for anyone else or define for them what love is. America is supposed to be the land of the free. You should be free to love whoever you want. Why does anyone else care? I’m not sure how to answer that question.
I do agree that crossing certain boundaries isn’t always the best or right decision for everyone. It may not be good for you to marry someone outside of your culture or religion. Your religion or cultural background may be a huge part of your life and you want to share that with the person you marry. That is great and you should follow through with that decision. However, don’t think everyone else feels the same way. You may not “get” how a woman can be attracted to another woman. That doesn’t mean it isn’t right for those who are. What may seem strange or different for you, may be normal or good for someone else. You get to determine what works for you. I don’t believe you can put a boundary on love for other people, it just doesn’t work that way.
If you don’t understand or are afraid of something, then ask. Educate yourself. Listen to someone’s story and really hear what they are saying. I get that privilege every day. It has helped me to become a very accepting person. I know people who write to prisoners who have committed serious crimes and are never getting out of prison. Yet they fall in love anyway. I don’t think I could do that, but who am I to think that it can’t or shouldn’t happen to someone else? Different isn’t wrong, it’s just different.
My point is to try to be open to possibilities. Try to accept that love is beyond some boundaries that you may not be comfortable with. Again, you may not be able to love someone who is very different from you, but that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t happen. Work to be more tolerant and kind to others and accept love in whatever form it may take. I’ll get off my soapbox now. Thanks for reading.