I have come to see that there’s a close relation between many of the feelings we so pointedly distinguish in theory. It is not so in life. Like we will point-blankly categorize feelings in books as either of two things—or three: if it is not Love, it is Lust then. Or we include a third… Infatuation; as though human feelings are not just more complex.
I understand this is true conceptually and when I discuss with a younger folk, say an adolescent, I use this analogy to be just understandable. But sometimes, feelings are even more complex and intertwined and many times even misleading to the theoretic definer and categorizer.
I like a particular poem I penned while on campus as an undergraduate. It is too simple and plain to have been any way near a favorite for me, but its composition inspiration that comes from the idea of trying to place feelings for someone around shades of definitions is, regardless, what makes me find it particularly interesting. Permit me to share below.
Life people stuff with many concepts
with many definitions
with many explanations
Love people give many contexts
with many dimensions
but with many questions
But even when my mind doesn’t get
their love classifying and complexity, my dear
I still know one thing for certain!
I still know one thing for certain!
Oh I may not know which is which
I may not know what’s what
I may not know the who’s who—
But I am sure I know you!
I may not know how
I may not know why
I may not know what
But I know I love you!
I know for sure I love you!
(“I may not know…”, Softlie, p. 21)
Conceptualizations of feelings. Definitions and Explications. Concepts on Contexts. Lexicons and Semantics. Many words, and the shades of meanings in-between.
Love… Infatuation… Lust.
Or else… Liking. Being fond of. Affection. Admiration. Adoring. Doting on. Attraction. Feelings for. Crush on. Desire. Longing. Being madly in love with. Obsession. Being lovesick. Being lovelorn… and the many other shades in between, still….
This I think I have learned through time, that there are many forms of these feelings we’ll categorize broadly as “Love” and as endless varieties of feelings as human personalities themselves are. I talk of the feelings Love, mind you, and not the concept or the conception. The broad category of the feelings I know may, can and does sometimes also include any more of the following shades of the emotion in it: Affection, Liking, Attraction (also called sexual attraction), Admiration, Adoring, Desire (also called sexual desire or in Greek lexicon, Eros), Feelings for someone, Obsession (as in lovelorn cases, and is mostly unhealthy) and so on.
For instance, Mr. A could just joke with his girl and say something like: “You know what? I love you so much I’m kinda restraining myself just now! You know something? You’re so cute it’s so hard, babe!” It simply meant he feels desire, raw desire and at times intense, even when he’s sure what he feels for his personal person is love, deep love. True love feels that. Even feels naughty; could perchance think naughty, dare naughty… is human enough to admit feelings.
But then, Mr. A’s reactions and the limits he gives to the feeling when he and his girl may have decided to both keep it clean till marital vows are exchanged and rites paid, is what distinguish whether he lets his feelings rule him all out or not, or he lets love go probably unpredictably hurtful to both in time.
The example case that readily comes to mind with this is the very dramatic scenario of Shechem who was both “attracted to and loved Dinah” in the Israeli chronicles recorded in the Bible, but yet raped her before he could propose marriage to her, only because he just could not control his deep urges. Dinah’s brothers were angered and set Shechem up. They gave him Dinah upon the gruesome condition of him circumcizing himself the night of his wedding. Shechem’ love was so strong he wouldn’t mind the condition. He followed it through. At midnight after Schechem wedded Dinah and has circumcised himself and laid weak in the chamber, Dinah’s brother descended on him, killed the Schechem and took back Dinah their sister.
The first time I read the story from the Bible I was both captivated and thoroughly moved. It’s worth reading all through; begin and you’ll find a very intriguing prototype to modern-day youthful eruptions we experience in our groins. Go right on through—it’s Genesis Chapter 34, from the first verse. I hope your reading—are you?
So then, Love as a feeling borrows from all. I see that even having liking for a person of the opposite sex, it could of course involve—and many times does involve—attraction, sexual attraction. Have you noticed? It is as normal and natural as you would find an older and responsible moral man (married even) just taking plain interest in and liking towards a younger lady, say far younger, because she is just beautiful and he just likes her—no ulterior motives. And he, if he’s not profane, will guard his feelings against the thought of doing anything silly with her. That is the difference between when we feel and sincerely acknowledge our feelings and when we gratify every single one of them, both ignoble and noble alike.
I liked a girl sometime ago. Just liked her for the sake of it, and even when she is not my personal person and I didn’t intend to make her at all. That was when I wrote this note as a thinker and a critic of my feelings.
I liked a girl sometime ago. And I let her know. And I made it end there. And everyone is happy.
—Kayode Olla, 2014
Kayode Taiwo Olla is a lecturer by daytime and a writer by dusk, with heart issues and mind themes being his muse’s fondest things. His books are a novel Sprouting Again and two poetry collections Softlie & Seven Loves, Seven Hates. His poems and short stories have appeared on litmags like Brittle Paper, Book Republic, Nantygreens, Blankpaperz, SankofaMag and The Nifeminist. He keeps a personal blog here.