So, what have I learned from those different styles of love? I realized that I truly loved the girls of my past. They were not infatuations. The relationships should not be valued less simply because they took place in my early college years or in high school. Each relationship demonstrated growth or change in the way I love women.
I experienced ludic love from Julie Tran while I was a storgic lover. I viewed my relationship with her as stable growth. She was pretty and smart. I enjoyed her company and looked forward to a growing relationship. Julie, on the other hand, was constantly unsure about my feelings for her (and, perhaps, her feelings for me). So, she devised odd tests for me. For example, she wore thick make-up one day to see how I’d react. She would flirt with other boys in front of me to get me jealous. The whole experience was so surreal and silly that I was glad she broke up with me after two weeks. Admittedly, I was still heartbroken since she was my first girlfriend in high school. Yet, ad hoc, I’m glad I did not experience one week more of her “tests.” I would surely have hated women and preferred men as lovers afterwards as a result.
The relationship with Lina Chai was my first attempt at ludic love. Her love for me was the combination of eros and ludus (mania). My style was ludic because I wasn’t interested in a commitment with Lina. I enjoyed the time spent with her. I felt empowered when I helped improve her relationship with her grandmother. I was proud to have such an artistic and creative girlfriend. But, there was no long-term vision. Lina’s style was manic because she loved me with a passion, but with a doubt of return. More than once, she commented on her surprise that I would even be interested in a girl like her. (Does a manic love style result from feeling undeserving of love?) In the end, my ludic style proved incompatible with her manic one. I broke her heart and I have hated myself for that since then. Sadly, I don’t think I’ll ever get a chance to say sorry.
One would think I’d learn from my relationship with Lina and not keep the ludus style of love. Rebecca Lui was the next victim of my stupidity. She was a very good girl who loved me with the full honor of agape. She disagreed with my playfulness (i.e., tickling or slapping her butt). My occasional curtness with her and wavering attractions did not shake her loyalty. She even suggested to me to spend more time with other girls who shared my interests! Looking back now, I was undeserving of her love. I was reckless and I hurt her feelings deeply. Rebecca deserves another agapic lover, or at least a storge/pragma lover. God! How guilty I feel now. I admire her greatly for her courage, for taking the initiative to break up with me must have been very difficult, considering her agapic love. Of all the girls in my past, I regret the most hurting Rebecca. She deserved much better.
Johana Hernandez was a great girl. My relationship with her was my first attempt at pragma love. This was a sudden change in style, since my past two relationships were ludic. Yet, the situation demanded it. We only had a few months before I left for college. A long-distance relationship required a commitment — the very thing that ludic lovers curse. So, I had to evaluate the pros and cons. I wanted good communication. Johana and I communicated well. At the time, we had average goals. She wanted to be an artist, I wanted to be a secondary school teacher. Both our families were poor, and the two of us could be translators between them (Spanish to English to Cantonese, and vice versa). We both planned to go to Humboldt State. The practical considerations were satisfied and I was ready to work out any differences ahead. Unfortunately, we were not both pragma lovers. I am not sure what Johana’s love style was in our relationship, but I am sure it was neither pragma nor storge. After I left for Humboldt, she felt not only a physical distance, but an intellectual one, as well. She believed that my growth during my first year in college was beyond her ability to keep up and that she was holding me back, (similar to how her ex-boyfriend held back her growth). She felt I deserved better. I was growing too fast, and the direction in which I was growing, she realized, was not hers. So — once again admiring a woman’s courage — she broke up with me.
When we parted ways, I was not aware of my love style in our relationship. Only in hindsight am I aware of my pragmatic love style. As a result, I placed full blame of the lost relationship on myself. For the longest time, I thought the relationship ended because of my ludic love style.
This inaccurate conclusion of my love style had a strong impact on my growth. After my relationship with Johana, I questioned my ability to love. It was after that relationship that I became more critical of myself and, for the first time, realized the terrible treatment of Lina and Rebecca by my reckless hands. Thus, I have Johana to thank for giving me the impetus to be a better man.
Yet, this path towards not being reckless with a woman’s heart was marked with doomed attractions: Amee Foss, Elena Leonard, Celia Tran, and a handful of other women during my second & third years at Humboldt. The short-lived attractions for these women were not simply eros-based. Any relationship was doomed to fail. I knew nothing would come from my pursuits — and from my own armchair-psychology analysis, I believe that I subconsciously subjected myself to these doomed pursuits so that I may suffer for my past transgressions. Whether or not this diagnosis has any merit doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that I did suffer. I constantly felt the need to prove that I deserved the love of these women.
Ah… then, there was Amanda. I experienced eros/agapic/manic love in my relationship with Amanda Allen. Our initial attractions were intense. The sense of bond and connectedness was quick. We told each other about our life stories with similar speed. When she decided that a relationship with me would not work out, what was eros love evolved to an agapic style. I did not care if she did not love me back the way I loved her; I continued to care for her and help her in any way I can. I actually loved someone beyond myself! It was redemption — absolution from the harms of my ludic past. No longer did I have to prove my worth. If I did not deserve another woman’s love because of my past, at least I can love a woman who deserved the best kind of love: agape.
Unfortunately, I failed at agapic love. Though I did not desire a reciprocation of love, I expected, in the least, her appreciation. I felt unappreciated. Tension resulted. Conflict ensued, and I nearly lost a great friendship.
From another perspective, I simply made all the wrong choices. I should not have told Amanda how attracted I was to her. I should have kept my distance and not done anything that would make her suspect the intense feelings that I have for her. The decision to live together as suitemates over the summer was ill-conceived. Her proximity had a catalystic effect: my agapic love mutated into complete mania. I wanted her to prove to me that she appreciated my love, not with love in return, but with “thank you’s” and smiles and platonic affection. She could not do this. She feared any kindness in my direction would only fan my intense passion for her. In short, I freaked her out and I nearly lost all hope of her association. Once again, women prove courage and intuitive wisdom: she kept her distance from me as far as possible. The distance and time apart allowed for the passion to die out and for me to wise up.
Wow… so these are the girls of my past. I have been so reckless in my relationships, I’m lucky to still have Amanda as a friend.