Sunday, October 16, 2016

Love Trafficking

My son just defined this for me. Love trafficking is any of those seemingly loving actions that is actually just a form of currency, benefiting the person who's doing it (but only in the moment).

Here are some examples, not at all taken from our personal lives, but just to illustrate the point:
  • You're angry with your daughter, so you treat her friends with extreme kindness, while maintaining an angry attitude with her, privately.
  • You're loving the baby extra-expressively to make the older sibling feel jealous or unwanted, because she did something you disapproved of.
  • You're calling the cat to prove that she'll come to you instead of to your partner. Because she loves you more.
  • You drop by your sister's house to make her feel extra special... because you just fought with your partner.
  • You give your Dad extra affection because you're mad at your mother.
  • You use your love for someone as a punishment for someone else.
  • You behave in a loving way in an effort to gain favour or something else you want.
  • You love someone but take the love back as punishment.

Love trafficking is not uncommon. My kid noticed it happening in his world and came up with the name, and I think maybe we all need to take note. Maybe people who grow up dealing love as a currency haven't even noticed that that's what they're doing, and maybe they're not intending even to do it.

Love trafficking hurts. Especially when we realize our emotional response to the love we received was just us catching a spear on someone else's battlefield. It hurts when the love we were handed is rescinded with interest, and we realize we were just an investment. If you are the recipient of someone else's love-trafficking affection, you will one day be the indebted, too. If you are trafficking in love, yourself, you will always feel indebted. 

Love isn't a currency. Love is a boundless self-perpetuating energy source. I still love everyone I have ever loved, no matter what has occurred between us. Love is that undefinable billowing blindness that allows us to carry on living. It's the food our spirits need to survive, and, like food, when it's used as a currency it can lead to disorders.

Ask yourself when you are giving love, whether that love bears a cost; ask yourself when you are accepting love whether it comes with a price. Ask yourself when you're reaping the spoils of your love in resentment and jealousy and tears whether the cost is worth it.

I'd like to suggest that many of us use love as a currency, at least unintentionally.  I'd like to suggest we stop, now.

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