"What’s Love Got To Do With It?"

by C. J. Kurkowski


            I would like to conduct an experiment and give you my hypothesis on love. Let’s throw love in a test tube for a minute. Heat it up a little with a Bunsen burner and watch the solid mass called love separate in two distinct parts, conditional and unconditional. This is my article so I can state that love can be broken down into two parts.

So far, in the gay community, I have run across these two forms of love in many of the relationships I have encountered with my personal friends. I am excluding myself from this article because I have not found love. I have only observed it.

            Okay, so I am stating that love is a thing. A mass if you will. Is it human? Not really, It has a human elements and it is a part of human development. It has emotions, it can give you the notion of hurting you physically, generally it is just the mental psychosis that gives you the physical, or you can hurt yourself. Love can make you blind or make you see things that only you want to see. Love can also make you hate people around you for not loving the person you love.

            So what is love? When I melted love down and made it separate itself in the test tube I found that love has two forms. The first being conditional love. Conditional love seems to have many different factions splintered off of it. From what I have seen in the gay community, and from what I have seen in my own personal life with my mother, conditional love means accepting the person you want to love with conditions. Do you really, truly love that person? Well there are two forms to that also. One, you learn to grow to love that person eventually and all they have to offer, but you don’t love that person deep down inside you heart. Or two, you love them as a matter of convenience. An example is my mother’s relationship with my stepfather.

            A few years ago my mother asked me about whether or not she should marry my current stepfather. I asked her a simple question… “Do you love him?” She said “no.” “Then why marry him,” I asked? “What does he have to offer you?” She first rattled off some of the negatives, he wasn’t really good looking, he had two kids, and he still had a wife that was in a coma that he cared for but was divorced to. The positives were that he made a decent salary, had patience with her, and was willing to care for her and love her unconditionally.

            I thought about this for a while and looked at my mother’s situation. She was a manicurist with an 8th grade education. Her command of the English language was not that good. My mother is a beautiful woman and I knew she could have any man she wanted, but what made me tell her to marry this man was the fact that she really couldn’t take care of herself. I asked her to marry him so she can have security and convenience in her life. She agreed to it. There really wasn’t a sense to go into it with my mother in more detail. I felt that she needed to be secure and stable. I knew she was not going to be happy and that she really was never going to love him. To this day, she does not love him. She has told me many times. The years have past but the love has not grown stronger. It has stalled. She is with him because of the convenience. She does love him, but it is not deep-rooted in here heart.

            Does it work like this in the gay community? Of course it does. Younger men go with older men to escape the trials and tribulations of the bad life that they had encountered in their own family life. They know that they really don’t love that man even though they are taking them away from everything that was bad in their life. In a sense it’s almost like having the stigma of a savior for the older man. Does the older man know what they are getting into? At times, yes. There are some people I know that like the idea of having a younger man on their arm so they can be seen with them. Generally, the younger man appreciates the fact that they are having a good life, but you know as well as I do that the love is not sincere. It is conditional. Those young men conditionally love the older men because it gives them a better lifestyle.  Its not only the younger gay men that fall into this situation, there are a lot of older people that fall into this.

            For the older men, they feel that they will not be able to find someone to love as they age. They conditionally love another person because they are scared that they cannot find love or will not be able to love.

            I don’t feel that there is anything wrong with conditionally loving someone. Not all people click in life. Some people feel that learning to love someone is a challenge in of its self. I tend to agree. Why the hassle? Well, because not all people will run into that one special soul mate in their lifetime. Partially it’s because of a missed opportunity, death, or destiny. So you feel that this is a grim outlook on life. Well it is. It happens everyday.

Sometimes friends can fall into the conditional love trap. Friends live together, get to know each other’s habits, their triumphs, and their downfalls. Eventually, sometimes, it works, they fall in love for who or what that person is, other times, it doesn’t click. The mental stimulation is not there. Too many factors cause it to collapse. It depends on the situation. One never knows what will happen in life. It is a game of chance.

Unconditional love is different. In unconditional love there are sparks, romance, lust, fast feelings, pain when their partner is away, long late night conversations on the telephone or computer, risk taking, complete and utter blindness to everything that is going on around you, and passion.

Of course, I will admit, there are two forms of unconditional love also. For example, I unconditionally love my close and personal friends. I will go to the ends of the earth for them. I would die for each one of them.

I have been intimate with all of them, carried on physical and mental relationships with them, and listened to all of their problems. They are mature adults living real lives. They are not vain or shallow towards me or towards each other. They accept me for who I am as I do with them. There are no boundaries. Everything and anything is discussed with them. To me, this is the unconditional love between friends. Something clicked when I met them, when they stepped into my life, and carried me off to a different level of my existence; it made me grow as a person. Even after the physical acts of sex, emotional turmoil, and the dissipation of lust, the friendship is still there, intact and stronger. Nothing can break that bond.

The other form of unconditional love falls under the form of trust and honesty broken, sickness, physical and emotional pain, and finally the roots of compassion.

In the past few weeks, I have met three couples that indulged me about the aspects of their relationship. The three couples I interviewed all had had the same thing to say about the longevity of their relationship and why they unconditionally loved their partners. It had to do with compassion. The root of compassion was planted when they first started the relationship. Each couple had the initial factors of unconditional love discussed above, but then it went further as time grew on.

Compassion took root, caring about their partner’s well being, unconditionally loving their partner no matter what happened. In each case, the couple all had a breakdown in the relationship where they had affairs. During the recovery period, they each asked themselves, do they really love this person? Is it worth taking a chance to move forward and put this behind them? Can they continue to unconditionally love this person no matter what? They all answered yes. That is unconditional love.

To accept things, move forward, and deal with life as each passing day goes on. Caring as you did for that person no matter what. Whether it is friendship or an intimate relationship, I can see that plant that is put in the soil to grow starts off with a root first then it is nurtured. That plant with its root takes shape, grows, flowers, dies and grows again.

Conditional love is a transplant. It has to be nurtured, fed, watered, and cared for better than the other unconditional love plant. It is a hybrid plant that has had many parts grafted to it in order to survive and flourish.

C. J. Kurkowski is a freelance writer living in the Chicago area. He has published poetry, and non-fiction pieces for 256 Shades of Grey, The Statesman, OUT in Chicago, and NOTA.