"Those three words are said too much, but not enough." -- Snow Patrol
I do what I do because I love love. I love the feeling of being in love, I love the feeling of people being in love with me, and I love the feeling of helping other people succeed in love. Love -- romantic love -- is pretty much the driving force behind my life. It's my calling. I'm good at being in love, I'm good at embracing love, I'm good at loving someone I choose to love. It's my greatest talent.
When I was in high school, I was a speech and debate nerd, and I once wrote a persuasive oratory (see, I was into persuasive oratory even back then, big surprise) about how society overuses the word love, and the danger in that, since when a word starts to mean everything, it starts to mean nothing at all. I'm actually a little distrustful of the word love. I am wary of being assigned as the object of the same verb that also may refer to how my lover feels about ice cream, sports, his mom, or his favorite band. I would like some distinguishing from these other objects, ideally -- a verb saved for me that describes how my lover values me, admires me, craves me, makes a priority of me, and wants to fuck the living daylights out of me. I'm the kind of girl who, when someone tells me for the first time that they love me, will obnoxiously ask, "That's wonderful -- but what does that mean to you?"
There is comfort for me, however, in the word seduction. Whereas "love" can be used to describe a feeling, emotion, or preference, there is no way that "seduction" cannot imply action. Seduction -- for all the flak it gets for its underhanded and calculated manner -- means thinking about the way that the person being seduced is going to react, thinking about the way that person is going to feel. It means taking responsibility for your actions toward that person, refusing to assign blame elsewhere, and adjusting the course of your actions based upon the response you're getting. No matter how much the moralists may wag their fingers at the little white lies and half-truths that seduction may condone, there is no arguing the fact that seduction takes responsibility for how it's making its object feel.
And sure, sometimes we seducers don't want the object of our seduction to feel good -- we want them to feel nervous, or worried, or jealous, or confused, or frustrated. But the difference is that we only arouse those feelings in order to make the relief that comes afterward that much more powerful. We throw in a few lows just so that the highs aren't taken for granted. We've all felt how good it feels to find our house keys after the thirty minutes we spent in panic looking for them. We know how much better it is to feel that relief and that comfort right after we feel that it might be taken away from us. So even the darker parts of our seductions are only a bit of cheeky trickery that come before the light at the end of the tunnel. We just want to make sure you're with us, and that you appreciate us.
The trouble I find with the way that most people use the word love today is that it takes little to no responsibility for the person who is its object. In fact, it's even used as a cover, as an excuse for bad behavior. In a bad past relationship I once had a lover, in a fit of emotional hyperbole, spew out a string of hurtful remarks about me and finally threaten inappropriate actions toward me, and cap it all off with the sentence, "And the worst part about this is that I still love you!"
My question is: What utility does love serve if it allows us to treat the person we say we love so badly?
Late last night my colleague and I found ourselves awake at a ridiculous hour, talking about some of the hurtful parts of our pasts and the bittersweet bewilderment that comes in feeling simultaneously the hurts still reverberating in our ears like tinnitus and the great sweeping relief of all of them being over with the hopes for a brighter future ahead of us, a future for which we have armed ourselves with all this crap that we study, all this NLP and evolutionary psychology and brand marketing, all of which is, of course, designed to give us the best possible odds that we won't have to go through anything like that again. And she said that, like all of us, she just wanted someone to love her.
I distrust the word love. So I replied, "What I really want is for someone to want to make me happy. I want someone to care whether I'm happy, and to care about whether what he's doing is making me happy. I want someone who is willing to step up to the plate and take responsibility for the way he makes me feel. Without that, I see practically no utility in being loved."
And my past lover in his search to assign blame elsewhere would argue that only I can make myself happy, and in part he would be right, but it's really not so cut and dry. Sure I can do my best to create the best possible default emotional state in myself, and I do my best to do that by living the life I choose, doing what inspires me, going after what I want, and creating a world around me that I find satisfying. But we humans don't live in a vacuum, and it's a cop-out to pretend that our actions ought to have no effects on the emotional states of others around us. If we care for someone, if we say we love someone, we ought to take into consideration the emotions that we cause in them and do our best to make them good ones.
This is where seduction really shines. This is why I do what I do -- because seduction allows me a means by which I can make someone I care about smile a little brighter during the day, blush in a brief retrospective of our last shared night, get excited wondering what surprise I might have up my sleeve next, and perhaps most importantly, know that they can rely on me to do my best to make them feel good. And this, in today's sea of self-absorption, is a rare pleasure that will earn you your target's attention and loyalty.
As for love? I love love, but I think we need a better word for it.