Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Thoughts for Valentine’s Day: What Love Is…and Is Not

with 5 comments

I keep meaning to write this, every single Valentine’s Day. And then I never do. So I guess today’s the day…enjoy?

In my writing, I’ve tried to show what I believe love is.

In the Elfyverse (so far comprised of AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE and A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE; more to come), it’s care, compassion, support, loyalty, friendship, and many other things that lead to intense romantic feelings for the young Bruno and Sarah. Bruno had a good marriage modeled for him by his late parents; Sarah’s parents did not give her good models, but her grandmother at least gave her someone to love who was worth the time.

Mind, even with that, love is a work-in-progress for the two of them. And I think that’s something we all deal with, as we go. It’s not like being in love waves a magic wand over you and says, “Now, everything will be wonderful.”

Instead, what love does is to make any problems that befall you far more bearable to deal with. Because you’re not alone anymore. You are supported. You are appreciated. And you are understood. (Or it’s not the love you’ve been looking for…but more on that, anon.)

Problems come to everyone, you see. And it’s how you communicate that helps you deal with them. Or not.

Bruno and Sarah, despite their tender ages, both know that. And they’ve made the commitment to stand by each other, to love one another, to appreciate each other’s differences as well as each other’s things in common…they’ve done what they need to do, in order to forge a strong bond between them.

But that’s not my only take when it comes to love. Far, far from it.

In CHANGING FACES, my stand-alone LGBTQ-friendly fantasy romance, Allen and Elaine’s plight is different. They know they love each other, and they can communicate well…except for one issue, that being Elaine’s gender-fluid nature. Allen knows Elaine considers herself bisexual (and monogamous! She’s not about to sleep with anyone but Allen, regardless of what her outer self looks like.) But he doesn’t know that Elaine considers her gender to be fluid, especially as Elaine likes the pronoun “she” and is a feminist scholar. And when he finally finds out, both he and Elaine don’t know how to handle it. But eventually, they find a way. (I hope that’s not too much of a spoiler for you, but if you are a long-time reader of romances, you know most of ’em go for happily-ever-afters. So why can’t mine?)

What I was trying to get at, in CHANGING FACES, was that love can conquer anything. But that you have to be willing to be vulnerable. You have to be willing to tell your partner, “Hey, I’m like this. Can you deal with it?” And if you’re really ambitious, you can be even more vulnerable and admit, “I’m not so sure I can always deal with it. But I appreciate that you have my back while I try.”

These are hard things to do. They’re very adult things.

So, while Bruno and Sarah are young adults and are finding their way — fortunately! — through a meaningful and deep love, Allen and Elaine are older and yet still have some of the same issues going on. I did that on purpose, because I think no matter what your age is, you’re going to have issues. And it’s how you deal with them that matters.

Either way, though, they show what love is. Commitment. Shared sacrifice. Honesty. Communication. Vulnerability. Loyalty. The willingness to laugh at yourself when needed, or with your partner as needed. The ability to say to yourself, “I don’t have to be perfect every day,” and of course that your partner doesn’t have to be perfect either, in order to be loved for who you are. To keep trying to communicate, even when it’s hard. To keep doing whatever you can, as long as you can, as often as you can, to let your partner know that you care, you appreciate them, you want them in your life, and you are going to do whatever you can to facilitate that so long as they feel the same way.

As I’ve heard it said, a romantic commitment takes 110% from each partner. I think that makes sense. (Though if you are a mathematician and are pointing out that it can’t be more than 100%, that’s OK, too. Just so long as you give your all, and your partner gives his/her all, that’s what matters. Not the number we put to it.)

Before I go, I want to talk about what love decidedly is not.

It’s not about gifts. It’s not about wealth, or fancy cars, or how big the bouquet of flowers is on any given day. It’s not about fancy restaurants (though I’m all for them, when possible); it’s not about what you can get from your partner.

Instead, it’s about what you give.

I hope most of you realize by this point that love is a two-way street, one you both want to be on at the same time and in the same place. And that anything else is not worth the price.

But if you’re doing all the giving in your relationship, and your partner is doing all the taking, that is not a love-relationship I’d want to have.

Anyway, I hope this has helped you figure out what’s worth it in a relationship, and what isn’t. And why I still think love matters more than anything…even though aside from the love of friends and family (predominantly agape love), I haven’t had it in over fifteen years.

Written by Barb Caffrey

February 14, 2020 at 10:33 pm

5 Responses

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  1. Your comments and view are so true Barb.
    Being in a relationship based on love does not involve all sorts of happy shiny days, sunshine and flowers. It also means stumble through mires together and still hanging on, just because…. that’s what love is. Sometimes it’s not even a feeling, it becomes a solid way of life, your foundation.
    Illustrating your point with your two books highlights the circumstances and challenges which sometimes two people will find themselves in. How they cope with that measures the strength of their love.

    deteremineddespitewp

    February 15, 2020 at 1:00 pm

    • Thanks, Roger. 🙂

      I’m glad you understood what I was talking about. And I figured it would be a change from talking about my husband, though I will talk about him again from time to time. (I think about him every day, many times a day.)

      The main things in true, honest, real, down-to-Earth love are to listen, to care, to be honest/vulnerable, and to stand beside each other through everything. But none of this materialist crap, please…that’s just ridiculous.

      Barb Caffrey

      February 15, 2020 at 5:13 pm

      • Hi Barb.
        You are quite right to talk about your husband. In this way you forever honour him and display your love. Your posts are always tender and I am sure many can relate to.
        This is true love. 🌞

        deteremineddespitewp

        February 16, 2020 at 4:13 am

      • Thanks, Roger.

        I am always happy to talk about Michael. He was an amazing man and I loved him, every bit, even the stuff that he didn’t love about himself. (Then again, he loved the stuff I don’t love about me, too, so it worked out.)

        What I remember about our Valentine’s Days together was just being together. I am allergic to most flowers, as was he; what we did instead was had a meal at home, played some games (Yahtzee or cribbage or something like that), and talked a lot. Even more than on most days (and we were good at talking, and enjoyed listening to one another).

        I do wish he were still here. I wonder what we would’ve been able to do together had he lived longer.

        But I have no regrets, else.

        Barb Caffrey

        February 16, 2020 at 6:25 pm

      • A beautiful homage Barb.
        Now he lives in my mind too.

        deteremineddespitewp

        February 17, 2020 at 3:00 am


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