I read an interesting article today talking about Casual Love. The idea is that we should remove the requirement of reciprocity from love and be comfortable with people being in love with others even when the feeling isn't mutual. I like the idea in principle, but I like it in the way that I like communism. You know, it has great taglines and a cool concept but isn't practical outside of a very small set of specific people. Living in a society where nobody would be upset about being in love with someone who does not feel the same way would be great. It would be a relief to be able to tell people I love them without that powerful sense of obligation, without fear, without feeling like I have dumped a major decision on them. Unfortunately I think parcelled along with love usually comes a very big helping of wanting love back and I don't see how we scrape that out of people's minds and habits.
I do wish we as a society could dump a lot of how we view love, especially the ideas that it must be exclusive, singular, eternal, and come along with a domestic arrangement. People can love many other people, it can come and go without anybody needing to feel like a failure, and it doesn't have to be a within a marriage. Love can be great and wonderful in all kinds of arrangements and configurations as long as the people experiencing it are made happy by it then we really don't need to police the structure they use. Love five people or none, have sex with them or don't, live with them or not, wander in and out of love as you will.
I don't think that expecting everyone to evolve to the point where they don't expect and desperately desire to be loved in return is going to happen. People, even if they don't expect permanency and exclusivity, want very much to be loved back. Obviously sometimes they will be satisfied or even perfectly happy with a one way love but that isn't going to be the norm. It would certainly be good for us as a society to be more accepting that these things happen and not immediately attract creepy labels to them but there just isn't any good reason to think that we are going to get to the point where people normally say I Love You and honestly are okay with any response at all.
We can be pretty flexible about how we are loved but we do by and large want to be loved especially by those we love in return.