On those rare occasions when a description is so apt that it is immediately absorbed into my vernacular, the fusion between language and reality is so total that it can be hard to separate the meaning from the experience. Having been using the term infinite lover for some years now, it’s spilled over into my community so pervasively, and become such a given in my own understanding of the world, that I sometimes find it hard to recall a time before I used it, or how it came to be available to me. I am also left wondering if I coined the term, or I came across it and adopted it. In this case, I’m fairly certain that it was a vanguard use, and one has that shaped my understanding of myself while defining it. The more I use it to describe myself, the deeper my understanding of myself becomes; the term, like my ability to love, seems to continually expand to hold ever more breadth and subtlety.
While it seems fairly easy for people to relate to, and less sticky than polyamorous, there have also been some messy assumptions, nervousness on the part of lovers or future lovers, and misunderstandings about how it applies to and shapes me. So I’ve been inspired to try and capture what it means for me more tangibly, hopefully filling all of our hearts with greater love and confidence in the process!
Taking a look at the definition of ‘infinite’, these are just some of the variations you’ll find listed:
Without beginning or end
Total and all-embracing
Impossible to measure or calculate
Having no ends, limits or boundaries in time or space or extent or magnitude
So, when I say I am an infinite lover, what I mean is that my way of loving and experiencing love is…
Without beginning or end
The feeling of having met or known someone before is often considered to be a sign of connection or even compatibility in romantic love. While I’m not sure I want to postulate on the validity of familiarity as a means for verifying romantic suitability, I can’t deny that a feeling like we’re picking up where we left off is a common element of my connections. The deeper I delve into loving this way, the more I begin to wonder if the lack of a clearly definable starting point in connection is actually a characteristic of the personality type/orientation I increasingly consider infinite loving to be.
I think an achronological experience of connection also goes hand in hand with the deconstruction of standard relationship models that happens in unconventional loving. If we have stepped off the relationship escalator, and the ‘success’ or viability of our togetherness is more reliant on our ability to be present and available to each other in a given moment than on ticking off conventional relationship milestones, then it is vastly more possible – and fitting – for relationships to exist cyclically over any linear fashion.
Instead, we ebb and flow, we shift between modalities, and often feel like we’re continuing a pre-existing story. And that’s pretty nice, even if it does need to examined to make sure it’s trustworthy.
Total and all-embracing
This applies just as aptly to individual connections as it does to the act or nature of connection itself.
Something that has puzzled me almost as much as the people I have tried to explain it to is how each of my connections, regardless of how ‘limited’ they might be, has the potential to fill my entire being, in seeming defiance of the laws of emotional physics. After more than three decades of experience, the options I see are to resist and deny (tried that all through my twenties, and it sucked!), or to accept, understand, learn to safely navigate, and channel the abundance of feeling (I’ll take door no.2, Eddie!).
Indulge me while I seemingly digress for a moment. It’s been a rough few weeks, and the trip down memory lane will promote positive neuroplasticity and stimulate oxytocin. And we’ll be back to the point before you know it.
I was with Fig, my favourite Sometimes Lover*, recently for the first time in some months. It was a long, languorous night of exquisitely intimate caresses, voracious kisses, unflinching eye contact; sass, smiles, wonder and desire all tumbling together, irreverent and full of grace in equal measure. It was also a sweet relief to see him. To return to the scent of his skin and feel the warmth of his blood pumping beneath it. To engage with his glorious mind outside of a small, backlit screen. To let what normally rests inside my heart flow out into him, and surrender to it.
With me being a fairly practiced lover of many, and 13 years his senior, whereas he inhabits a mostly vanilla world, within which such an unconventional situation isn’t so easily explained, he once told me he feels there is no ‘future’ for our connection. Then, as now, almost a year later, I am inclined to disagree. It just doesn’t fit neatly into any recognisable category, which makes it hard to imagine its trajectory. At times, I could consider myself a mentor, except that I feel he’s opened my eyes possibly even more than I have his. The ongoing discovery we’ve shared means that we’re more than friends with benefits, while the lack of regularity reduces the more obvious options for what that ‘more’ can be, and precludes a standard friendship. We’re not a booty call either, because the connection is so acutely mentally stimulating, and we don’t call on each other specifically for sex.
So when he says my care for him is somewhat disproportionate, I’m pretty sure I understand what he means, and even why that might concern him. I’ve found it concerning from time to time too. My reality, however, is that unless I actively work very hard to switch it off, it’s there whether I want it to be or not. So rather than resisting it, and creating even more tension within myself, I’ve learned to accept that he is important to me and has my attention, possibly more than he is able to understand, possibly more than is suitable given how rarely we actually spend time together, and absolutely in a way that has great value to me – and hopefully to him too. That, when I allow it to, it will fill me to the brim, which can confuse us both from time to time, but is also a source of comfort, inspiration and pleasure.
What I feel for that sweet, contradictory, challenging, feisty young man gives fuel to my fire. A deep well of gratitude, delight and satisfaction. A drive to know him ever better. To serve our mutual and individual growth through our interactions. He is precious to me. I want the best for him; I want to see him hit his stride, and provide a safe and inspiring space for him to gain new experience in. His time and capacity for connection are limited. While he is both protective and thoughtful of those in his inner circle, he is generally ‘care-less’ by nature and is slow to cultivate a sense of accountability to people. Over the time we’ve known each other, I’ve come to appreciate being the recipient of such a particular affection, and when I do get to spend those rare evenings in his company, I cherish them. I devour them. I savour every moment. I want to glean every ounce of wisdom and pleasure from our time together. I feel a little changed each time. True story.
And all this over/through/because of someone I see maybe once every couple of months.
To state that he doesn’t believe there is a future for our connection isn’t to say he doesn’t value it, I believe, so much as much as that he can’t see where it fits into his life plan. The relationship escalator, conventional models of romance, and the monogamy myth have been shaping his world for a much longer time than I’ve had to challenge them, and even I admit that what he believes about us holds way more logical clout than my achronological sense of perspective ever can.
And yet. And yet…!
Essentially I forget that he is a Sometimes Lover, because the depth of feeling I experience for and with him, coupled with the sense of potential for our connection (when thinking outside of the progressive model, in terms of learning and experience and wonder and growth and pleasure), tells my brain to anticipate a lot more from ‘us’. That in itself can breed quite the cognitive dissonance, given the lack of regularity and difficulty in confirming our trysts, and doesn’t even take into account that he is only one of several active connections in my life at the moment. But as long as I check in with myself, and stay anchored in the actuality of the connection, it isn’t a danger – more an anomaly that requires monitoring from time to time, and which keeps doors to very appealing rooms unlocked.
As I recently expressed to him, I know that most people would struggle to understand how I can experience our connection alongside any others, one of which in particular has been taking the driver’s seat for some time now. But I do. Oh, I really do! And I know that a lot of people might doubt the authenticity of such improbable feelings. But they check out, I can assure you.
My love for him, and the loving we engage in, as distinct from our relationship model, is total, and allows ample room for my other love/s.
I did mention defying the laws of emotional physics, right?
Impossible to measure or calculate
The blessing and curse of deconstructing relationship paradigms until they match what actually is is that it can become even harder to quantify where and how my loves fit. This is mostly a challenge when seeking to describe my inner world to others, but it can also be tricky when trying to understand and order my own experience of love for my own benefit. Annika Mongan has already written a great piece about the perils of describing the dating world of a non-hierarchical and non-monogamous lover, so I think the simplest way I can put it is that without the safety of tried and tested – albeit limited and confining – labels and definitions, I’m often at a loss as to how to categorise and order my connection network.
I haven’t had what I’d call a boyfriend or a partner in several years, though I’ve had numerous deep and cataclysmic romantic relationships that have included coupling elements. I have friends who started out as lovers, and with whom the boundaries occasionally still blur. I have regular lovers who feel like much more; I have crushes that serve mostly as an indication of a story to be discovered together, but sometimes spill into chemistry and physicality, or long pseudo-love letters to one another.
Currently, I am nursing a broken heart over the Love of My Life who recently disappeared from our story, which has continued in multiple complicated ways since we fell in love instantly when I was 23; there’s an almost 2 year journey with an incredibly present, warm, delicious, compassionate and sparklingly intelligent lover who has shown me that connections truly can be deep without having to be wide**; a year-long crush I’m just starting to get to hang out with outside of the confines of how we know each other; a loverfriend who I’ve been loving in various ways for over 7 years; and the aforementioned Fig, my delightful protégé who teaches just as much as he learns. Oh, and we can’t forget the beautiful Tantric Truckie, a romantic friend who will drive several hours to give me a hug that breathes life into me, and showers me in kindness and support. Or a blossoming ‘skin-connected’, naked deep and meaningful scenario with a gem of a man with whom insights and powerful observations are generously shared. And yet, I still go to sleep alone most nights!
So when I try to explain my way of loving – and my loves – it can be quite tricky, precisely because I have no straightforward units of measurement nor categories. It’s a double-edged sword for sure, because that’s also partly how I can fit them all in to my magic pudding*** heart.
Having no ends, limits or boundaries in time or space or extent or magnitude
Quite frankly, this is possibly the single most challenging element of being an infinite lover, while also being one of its most beautiful truths.
Its beauty lies in the way that such timeless, broken-down barrier loves can surprisingly, wonderfully re-enter my life when least expected. That a kiss that has been anticipated for 8 years can be received when the time is finally right. That an old flame from across the seas can be welcomed with open arms, even when I’m deep in connection with others. That there is never really a ‘wrong’ time, and there is always room for negotiation.
On the flip side remains the sense that nothing ever really feels done. That a heart can be stretched wider than feels comfortable or even safe. That one can love and love and love, and still go to sleep without loving arms wrapped around them.That incredible effort and focus is required to create boundaries that rarely feel natural, or even required, until the damage has been done. That breakups can happen in threes, fours and even fives, until the grief is like a tidal wave way out at sea. That the maintenance of connections can sometimes weigh more heavily than the lightness of the love can bear. Trust me when I say that being an infinite lover is not as ‘fun’ as you might imagine.
And so, when I describe myself as an infinite lover, this vast array is what I am getting at. Yes, I might have romantic and/or sexual connections with more than one person. Yes, I explore non-monogamy, and choose to deconstruct relationship models. But I think that these are symptoms of the root ’causes’ described here, and those symptoms might just as easily be the fact that I am often reading two or three novels at once, identify as an empath, feel like I could make a home in California, Oregon, New Orleans, Wellington, Auckland, Melbourne or Paris just as easily as Sydney, don’t have a favourite drink to order at a bar, or that I experience bone-crushing depression at times, just as I do transcendence through relating.
What I’m trying to get at is that I believe infinite loving is a way of experiencing the world before it is a way of connecting to other people, or being in relationships with them. A way that requires a hell of a lot of accountability, emotional intelligence, and next level ability to manipulate time and space!
Yes, I will probably care for you – or at least feel naturally inclined to – as if you are the only person I am loving, even if you’re not. You may wonder how I can possibly feel so much, let alone balance those feelings, and maybe sometimes doubt their authenticity or reliability, based on the scarcity model of love we’ve been forced to swallow. You might fear being hurt because I am available to others, as well as to you. You might struggle to understand how I can do it, even while for me there is no other option. I will possibly give more than you expect, or feel entitled, to receive. That might even feel uncomfortable at times.
But know this: unless we have specific agreements, either explicit or more implicitly made – giving to you is my choice, and while I hope you will lovingly receive, and ideally that we will co-create even more wonderful love together, I don’t love conditionally based on that premise.
Love’s nature is to flow, and I feel better giving and opening to it than holding back. It feels truer to me – and less painful – to love regardless of whether it is ‘reciprocated’. The act of loving itself can be ‘enough’, and whether I am in active relationships with others or not, my heart, by its exquisitely confusing nature, will be open to them regardless.
Now, when we start talking about loving with each other…that, my dear, is a whole different story!
* By which I mean our time together is occasional, that he is only my lover as time and opportunity allow
** deep not wide is the way I describe connections that touch the heart and soul without taking over one’s life
*** The Magic Pudding is an Australian story about an anthropomorphised pudding who instantly grows back any slice that is cut from him