To love freely or to love responsibly

> Thandekile Moyo

I BELIEVE in love. I have no doubt in my head that there is such a thing called love. I love being in love, that awesome feeling of having someone in your life who makes you smile, sing and giggle.

I am confident by nature, but real love softens and humbles me and I turn into this warm bowl of sweetness and shyness. I love the person I am when I am in love and I love having the opportunity to love someone completely and unabashedly!

Having said that, I do not subscribe to the concept of falling in love. The idea of having no control over myself to the point of finding myself in love with the worst possible person does not appeal to me.

I believe in walking into love, slowly and as carefully as one can. Having fallen in and out of love with the wrong people several times in my life; I have learnt to give myself time to distinguish between infatuation and real love.

Infatuation is defined as an intense but short-lived passion or admiration for someone. Most people rush into relationships with people they are infatuated with because they believe liking someone intensely is love.

How can you love somebody you do not know fully? This is why after we break up with people we ask ourselves what we ever saw in them! I am at a point in my life where, before I decide to love someone; I examine their character and our compatibility thoroughly.

Only after I am sure we can live together happily, will I let myself love them. I expect the person to do exactly the same.

When we first fall for a person, all rationality flies out the window and everything seems possible.

This is the time you tell yourself I will clean this man up and make him look presentable.

This is the time when a man will give his car to his mistress and convince himself his wife will never find out.

In this moment of euphoria, everything is beautiful and you believe you can overcome all hurdles.

Stop! In as much as we are not supposed to make decisions when angry, never make decisions when happy or overly excited by someone.

Emotional decisions are disastrous and those that involve human sexuality are worse.

The one I love once warned me that too much attraction breeds carelessness and I am inclined to agree.

A few weeks ago, I watched the movie “A united kingdom”, and I was left with a lot of questions about love in my head.

It is the story of Seretse Khama, a Botswana king who went to England to study, and his love affair and marriage to a white woman in the 1940s.

There was a huge outcry, as people thought by falling in love with a commoner, and not just that, a white commoner, the Prince was displaying a high disrespect and disregard  for his people.

The woman’s white father disowned her for the disgrace she was bringing to their family and Seretse’s uncle tried to get the tribe to remove him from the throne. Seretse’s sister in one scene, begs her sister-in-law to divorce her brother. “If you love him, you will let him go,” she pleads.

Against all odds though, the couple stayed together.

This got me wondering. When two people love each other dearly, desperately even, to what extent should they consider the people around them? Are we meant to love freely, or should we love responsibly.

Are we being unfair when we impose an unsuitable partner on those around us, or are they the ones being unfair by dictating who we can and cannot love?

I then went on to ask myself, if my happiness causes everyone around me to be unhappy, for how long can I be happy? In the case of the king, his marrying a white woman divided a nation and tore his family apart.

It then dawned on me that the level of responsibility when it comes to love, varies with political, cultural and social status.

When the fate of the nation rests on your shoulders, you cannot afford to be in a situation where you throw all away, for the sake of love. Imagine if Robert Mugabe had married Prince Charles’ daughter, we would never have had a land reform, for, how on earth would he have stepped on his in-laws toes? Without a doubt, those in leadership positions cannot afford to love just anyone they fall for.

Loving freely seems like a beautiful ideal, but absolute freedom is not only impossible, it is problematic. Imagine if your sister was free to fall in love with your husband. Imagine if your daughter’s teacher was free to love her sexually.

In loving responsibly there is freedom! When you choose a partner who is right, you free yourself from opposition from the family and society.

That is why it is important to take your time to decide whether or not you can love a person.

Some of the opposition we face when we first fall for someone is from people who have our best interests at heart, but because we fall in love, not decide to love, we marry people against all odds and live unhappily ever after.

Even where couples vow to love each other at all costs, how happy can you truly be, knowing you cannot visit home with your spouse, knowing all your lives it is you and him against the world. Romantically it is noble, realistically it is not only stressful, it is also foolish.

We need to exercise consciousness when choosing the people we love.

That consciousness is impossible to attain in the early days, so we must take our time before we decide to be in a serious relationship with anyone.

Wait until you can think rationally, wait until you start noticing the things that annoy you.

Wait until you can question the things they tell you. Only then, can you make a conscious decision.

With consciousness comes responsibility. And with responsibility, freedom!

February 2017
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