On love + attachment: or why romance is bullshit

I have been working on consciously redefining my definition of love. Over the past few years, it has become increasingly clear that what I thought of as love is maybe more like attachment. Is maybe something beyond what is healthy. The toxic, abusive, codependent tendencies of modern media have brought more irritation than delight. I’ve been divorcing myself from the concepts that don’t add to my evolution as a person. Where I once frequently fell in love, a slave to my emotions, I now find myself building love, consciously and precisely. What changed in me? Why does it feel different?

The same chemicals are firing within me: dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin… but I don’t feel the insane intoxicating high I once felt when I was a junkie for love, sex, human connection. There was a point in time that I felt temporarily completed by another person or maybe just temporarily distracted from the incompleteness inside me. From the endless abyss. The void that swirled like a vortex and pulled every shred of my consciousness like a black hole. I loved that darkness, just as much as I claimed to love my lovers. I didn’t realize it at the time, but there is romance in pain. Romance, darlings, was my problem.

Say Anything, and the quintessential grand romantic gesture

Say Anything, and the quintessential grand romantic gesture

The term “romance” didn’t enter the lexicon until the late 14th Century to describe romantic stories about knights and rescue. It etched itself as a genre and we adopted it to mean sexual love and partnership. No wonder we’re so fucked up about love. Romance has nothing to do with love and everything to do with drama, narrative and grand gestures that at the end of the day are honestly meaningless, empty, vapid unless backed up by action. I don’t know about you, but at this point, I’d rather have someone show up when I need a hand to hold rather than a psycho outside my door blasting love songs.

In reality, most of these grand, romantic, idealized depictions of love we consume through media from film and tv to most toxically advertising are not depictions of love, but of attachment and in worse cases codependency. We don’t fall in love. We fall into attachment. That’s the unconscious rollercoaster. Love—real love—has to be consciously built. 

If we remain on the unconscious rollercoaster, we maintain a sense of ownership over people. Because there’s something simultaneously dangerous and safe about it. There’s also something so sexy about that power play. If we relate it to the world of kinks, there is something erotic about taking ownership of someone or having someone taking ownership over you. It’s weirdly romantic. Or maybe it’s not weird at all. That’s how a genre of art was born that maybe had nothing to do with creating healthy relationships with longevity.

To create true lasting love, we need balance. We need to responsibility for ourselves, our lives, our emotions, our actions. We need to take care of each other without feeling owed anything. Love is not transactional. As my Buddhist friends would say, we need to realize that the source of happiness isn’t the person for whom we feel affection, but rather ourselves. We are limitless beings of love. It’s fucking hard to get to that realization, but it’s possible. (This carries us into the emphasis we put on sexual partners over friendships and how we are able to fully love in many ways, but that also takes us down the polyamory route which is a topic for another day.)

I have found that the deeper I get with my own practice, the more I explore the maze of my mind, the more freely I am able to love. I can love without fear because I know that the love comes from me. That a lack of reciprocation is nothing to be afraid of because I am the one cultivating and building and creating the feeling and I only want to build with people who are as enthusiastic about this construction project. I’m still figuring it out. There are still ways in which I feel attached. But I’m less scared to leap into the unknown within my heart, which makes my wellspring of love that much deeper, that much more expansive, that much more infinite.

Love Your Self, Love Your Privates: A Post V-Day Special

Last night I read tarot for 20 women at a wonderful event called ((F*CK LOVE)) Me, Myself & I at one of my favorite workout spots, 305 Fitness. Reading for so many people back to back, you notice trends, and a lot of us have similar things going on despite the particularities of each of our ripples.

I ended up discussing, and advocating for masturbation with 80% of these women. I actually talk about this a lot with most of my clients, and while I don’t usually discuss it this frankly in a public forum, I feel compelled to address some hang ups and call upon particular kind of self-love for all who want to hear it. 

(I have written this post with trans inclusive language in mind, but we are all still learning. Talking about privates in this context feels tricky since I don’t want to assume what anyone is equipped with. If there is better language I can be using, please let me know. You can message me on social media or email me. <3)

We have a pretty icky relationship with masturbation as a society. Despite our obsession with sex and the constant parade of photoshopped, commoditized, fetishized, etc female bodies (and a sprinkling of male ones) being shoved in our faces 24/7, what is your relationship with your own privates? And why do I find the word genitals weird and silly?

Although I’m not the biggest fan of Sex and the City and find a lot of that show’s messaging problematic, a really great example of what I’m getting at is that episode where we discover that Charlotte has zero idea what her own vagina looks like. It’s this whole thing where the gang gets her to use a mirror and see what’s going on down there. I know a lot of people who relate to Charlotte. Who neglect their vaginas and have never looked their lady parts in the eye and said, “I love you” (I have never done that, but I will now). Why are we so afraid of vaginas? There are freaking horror movies about them. (Or is it just that one?) And some of our “worst” curse words mean vagina (you know, family favorites like “cunt” and “twat”). These are the places through which literal human life first greets the world. They’re like the opposite of the Death Veil in the Department of Mysteries (Harry Potter reference for the uninitiated). They’re like the Life Veil. Why are they bad words?

I feel like penises have a little more exposure since they are kind of just out there, and there’s old statues with penises, (this may be flawed logic, but it’s working for me right now), but I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of folks with penises, have hang ups about their junk. And why is “junk” even a word for genitals? Why do we call a reproductive organ that also provides pleasure trash? 

The Magician, The High Priestess and The Devil from The Fountain Tarot and The Wild Unknown (Plus, an njoy Pure Wand)

The Magician, The High Priestess and The Devil from The Fountain Tarot and The Wild Unknown (Plus, an njoy Pure Wand)

I included The Devil in this image, because this card is so interesting to me, particularly in this context. In pagan tradition, the Horned God represents masculine creativity and the wonder of nature, but long ago, Christian tradition warped that image into a fiend that is out to seduce and drag us all to hell. I think a similar warping has happened to us with relation to our sexual desire. From over exposure to pornography to under education of what real consensual good sex can be, it takes a lot of self-inquiry and guesswork to move past all the confusion.

So what can we do with the reality of this, the fact that we are inundated with messaging that makes us dislike or at the very least disregard our privates? We start by getting intimate. By listening to our bodies. No matter what we have going on downstairs, we start by loving it. By exploring it.

It’s sacred place of pleasure and life, and it’s fucking beautiful. It’s called the Sacral Chakra for a reason, so even if you can’t actually create life, or you have some sort of Hedwig situation, the energetic blueprint in that area of your body is a sacred. So touch yourself. Learn yourself. Know yourself.

I would like to invite you to start without the internet. To touch and look and feel with genuine curiosity without an end game or orgasm in mind. Then, there are plenty of resources (and I do not mean porn) to help level you up. and Kim Anami come to mind. Then, make it a sacred practice. Light candles, use essential oils, buy toys (Eve's Garden is my personal favorite spot in Midtown Manhattan), find the ritual in loving yourself. 

It takes a lot of practice to evolve past the instilled hang ups of being brought up a Catholic Cuban (or whatever your particular cocktail of conditioning might be) in a sex shaming society. I am still not 100% there. But without the mud, there is no lotus. Without digging through out messy hang ups and patterns, we don't get the break through. So stroke, tease, play, fondle, press and do what you will. I hope that love will follow.