The Politics of Love: Shrewd and Practical

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For those who think of love as a mechanical, functional thing, let me first tell you that there isn’t anything particularly wrong with you. There are some of us, unlike myself, who are capable of using their brains. And that must be a very practical way to live life. I applaud you for it.

I was personally always a heart kind of guy, so I’m tempted to tell you that you’re looking at love all wrong, but that’s a really bad way to get someone to continue reading your article. So let’s make this thing practical then…

I wish to submit a theory that love often needs management. It has resources that can be abused, and citizens who can be neglected and need caring for. It requires that structures be built, laws be set to prevent citizens bringing harm to each other, and, by extension, standards that inform these laws.

Love has a mutual space, a history, and a culture, and develops, with time, with all these things.

Love has a mutual space, a history, and a culture, and develops, with time, with all these things. It’s theoretically a country! And love, like a country, needs a government.

This, my brothers and sisters, is the politics of love. After all, politics is nothing more than the activities associated with governing a space.

Let me make sure that this makes sense. Any space has resources within it, and relationships have their own emotional space, rich with stuff like trust, commitment, patience, faithfulness, and, most importantly, love.

In a relationship, there are people living in this mutual space, and they have a right to these resources. They have needs that they want to fulfil with these resources, and rights to them.

Practical types might think that these things just get in the way, but they’re the things that the ‘country’ is made of. If you live in Trinidad, you know that the country runs on oil and natural gas. Similarly, relationships have their own domestic products.

And then there are the citizens – the people in the relationship. They have a right to the resources, and get to use them to keep themselves and the city running – almost like working and paying taxes to keep the place running. They also engage with each other, and try to get and give things to each other to keep them happy, as well as keeping the entire relationship happy and orderly. Makes sense, right?

It takes a shrewd mind, which can make the tough decisions, and see the bigger picture. 

It’s not all rainbows and butterflies, this thing called love. It takes a shrewd mind, which can make the tough decisions, and see the bigger picture. It takes a mind like yours.

If it sounds like I’m selling you the idea of a relationship, it’s because I absolutely am. There are many ‘thinking’ people who believe that relationships, emotions, and things like love are for those creative types who have nothing to do with themselves, and aren’t realistic enough to survive in the real world. But those guys are all wrong. In the grand scheme of things, anyone can learn petroleum geoscience, but you see getting a relationship to work? As Ian Alleyne would say, “That is what yuh does call wettin’!”

Relationships require that two people come together, and manage their emotional resources – the feelings that they need to share in order to keep the relationship running smoothly, and keep people emotionally fed. If that doesn’t happen, then people feel cheated and treated unfairly. They begin to resent each other, take back their own resources, and even try to sabotage what resources their partner has. It’s the equivalent to workers striking, and people robbing each other. And we know those things never turn out nicely.

Which is why, in a way, a relationship has infrastructure to keep it alive.

…in a way, a relationship has infrastructure to keep it alive.

Relationships need to establish a pattern that allows both people to feel good around each other. That means spending time with each other, and understanding when people need space or intimacy. It has boundaries and rules, doing the same thing as a country’s laws, making sure that everyone keeps the peace, and doesn’t take advantage of each other.

The fact that there are citizens here means that they have rights. In the real world, men and women have the right to life, liberty and property. And they have the same rights in a relationship – a right to their own lives, the freedom to choose what those lives are, and definitely the right to have their own things, and not have them taken away from their partner.

But the fact that these two people are together also means that those rights affect each other. One’s life affects the other person, and the liberty to live it  does as well. People are not in a relationship with themselves, much in the same way that you really don’t have the freedom to do whatever you want in a country.

And I guess that brings us to the first, hard question in this whole theory. Who’s the leader of this state?

Religious folks would say God. Family people would say their mother or father, and their ideals. In honesty, though, it’s a democracy. Which means the citizens call the shots.

You might not have much experience with a true democracy, but ideally the citizens always have the power. It’s a coalition, basically. The two people in the relationship need to equally decide how they value the resources they share, how to share them, and what happens when someone breaks the rules. Sometimes that’s more difficult than it seems here, and that’s not all bad. The decisions that the couple comes to, after the weeping and gnashing of teeth, is what shows that the relationship means something to the both of them.

And the even harder question? What happens when the country grows?

That’s a little trickier, especially if this is your first time trying to deal with that. But when a nation grows, it requires more resources, better politics, and more investment. And it’s exactly the same here. It means making sure the boundaries that you set all the time are still relevant, and that the emotional resources that you’ve always been spending are keeping your connection to each other alive, and are recharging each other emotionally. And if not, why not figure out how to do that?

It’s easy to run from a relationship that begins to ask more of its leaders, but when one person does that…the country falls. So many great memories and emotions come crumbling down, and the future that sits comfortably on top of it crashes to the ground as well.

Image credit: Photo by Anna De Luna

Brendon O'Brien

Brendon O’Brien is a writer, Spoken Word poet and performer, blogger, activist, and a host of other things. Simultaneously pursuing performance and journalism careers, he writes an almost-weekly, inspirational blog for ARC Magazine called “Operation Ante-Up”, as well as his own blog, and has tried his hands at acting in the 2010 Best Village-winning “RepatriHaiti”, and directed the ASHTAR Theatre production ‘The Gaza Monologues’.

1 Comment

  1. Stefan

    April 5, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    I love it. Interesting perspective on the dynamic of any relationship.

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