How we can give love with a gift receipt & why the freedom to change one’s mind is a matter of body autonomy
I posit that, ideally, we would give love with a gift receipt. Ever heard the aphorism “love as if your heart has never been broken”? It’s trite, and also, unfortunately, illogical whether you view it as a suggestion or a command statement. The reasonable person says in response, ok — but how? Well, you know that one person in your family that buys everyone Christmas/Hannuka/Kwanza/Yule/Solstice presents in July, gets everything on clearance, then reMOVES the tags so they become unreturnable, and the item is so random as to be the perfect white elephant gift for anyone? It’s laughable (and a bit sweet — I have a relative who does this I suspect because she grew up dirt poor so my mom always used to say, “Your Auntie ____” put more thought into that one gift for you than I put in the entire haul under the tree. She’s been plotting and scheming for 6 months!). But as I grew older and became a present-buyer myself, and started trying to psychically profile friends and family to predict the perfect gift and repeatedly failed, I found myself becoming more concerned with whether or not I could pick the perfect store, where the recipient could return the item and exchange it for what they really wanted. And it felt so good to declare, as I placed the gift in their hands, “Now, there’s a gift receipt inside and I hope you do go and exchange it for something else if you decide to.” So, I posit that when we give love this same way, the person can keep it, or not. They can reciprocate, or not. They can and might even save it for someone else and then regift it! The idea of a love gift receipt can best be described as a desire for someone else’s happiness regardless of whether or not they desire our happiness back.
Second, I claim that the right to change one’s mind is rooted in freedom, which itself is anchored in body autonomy. If I believe that freedom from tyranny is a beautiful ideal, i.e. that liberty of body, mind, and spirit is a gift like no other, then I affirm that right for everyone. That is to say, it would be impossible to believe freedom is just and good for only myself but slavery is acceptable for everyone else. Freedom means freedom for everyone. We logical people take it for granted sometimes (at least I used to) that everyone who uses the word freedom is also referring to actual liberty. No, they often mean the ability to take an action that is “free” of consequences and remain happy to use (or watch others use) force to induce compliance to tyrannical whims!
Therefore, in a romantic relationship, I posit that each person is free, retains body autonomy, and the brain, being inside the body, is also free. Free to change its mind, free to make a new decision, and free to move their physical body to a new person, a new location, or a new focus.
If we don’t believe that a romantic partner has the freedom to change his or her mind, do we truly believe in freedom? I understand that marriage is a legally binding contract that de facto states that the couple is agreeing not to change their minds (how romantic!!!!) which is why I always say, I salute the bravery of these people who dare to tie the knot!! But. And it’s a big but. I still give love with a gift receipt. Because I believe in freedom — for everyone.
As mentioned in a previous post, I am a firm believer in the institution of marriage and continue to view family ties as the structure that saves society from chaos. That being said, I’m commensurately passionate about enjoying my limited time on this fieldtrip to Earth we call life. Life is for the living and those who give the most love certainly do seem to love life the most. I happily give mine with a gift receipt.
Thank you for reading, dear substack subscribers!!
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Free right up until the words "I do."