Years ago, just after my high school graduation, my mother had a party for me. My grandmother, her mother, attended that party, giving me a white night gown and a candle as a gift. Somewhere in the conversation, as we all sat around the living room, she said, "In a relationship, one person always loves more. It's best not to be that person."
I've though of that comment so many times over the years. I've analyzed countless relationships (my own and others) from that perspective.
I have to say: grandma was right. There is always one person who loves more or who, at least, seems more devoted and taken with the other person.
I've seen this play out dramatically, so obviously as to be painful. I've also seen it so subtly as to be almost imperceptible.
When I read the poem, The Loving One, by W. H. Auden, I thought of my grandmother's words when I read these lines:
I'm listening to the Audible version of The Female Persuasion (it's quite long), and in it there is a conversation between the protagonists (a couple). The woman says something along the lines of: the person in the relationship who is nonchalant has all the power.
I'm sure it was better stated than that, but it speaks, I think, to the idea that the person who loves more is more vulnerable. The person who is more emotionally invested has less power because that person cares more, is more likely to feel the sting if it all goes wrong.
I've been on both sides of the coin on this one. I've loved more and been loved more, and I have to say: the positions are equally thrilling and equally fraught with pain. I can't say one is better than the other, in fact. Being the one to love more is sort of thrilling. You're always on edge, always hopeful, always in love. Being the person to love a little less is much less emotional and, thereby, exhausting. It feels safe. There is less angst.
Perhaps the best possible outcome is to love equally, but from what I've seen, the closest that ever gets is for a relationship to have a natural ebb and flow so that two people cycle in and out of these positions without wild swings.
I'm curious: which would you rather be?
The one who loves more?
Or the one who is loved more?
We're back to sleeping until 9:00 around here. Even Sandy is on board.