There was a time when I didn't fall in love.

I wasn't a complete robot - I understood the concept well enough. More than that, I'd been right in the terrible roiling thick of it. And maybe that's how I could manage to - very consciously - remove it from my life, or at least move it so far down the spectrum of priority that it effectively only applied to me.

And it was fantastic.

When I'd been in love with people before, my M.O. had been to set my own needs aside and focus all available energy on theirs (and their wants, and their casual interests). Once I set that aside, all that energy came straight back to me in the form of a formidable discipline and an unflinchingly bright cheerfulness. I paid off my student loans and went back to school. I fine-tuned my personal health routine to a point where I was objectively healthier and less stressed than any other time in my adult life, just because I'd stopped caring about anything but my own outcome. I started a project to actively face my fears - getting punched in the face, being upside-down, being a nude art model, singing in public - and it only invigorated me more. I saw my friends a lot - talking, laughing, working, running together, sharing deep dreams and thoughts on how our universes appeared to arrange themselves. I juggled between 50 and 70 hours of work every week between five different jobs while coasting along at the top of literally every single one of my physics classes. I was a NASA scholar. And I did all this with an honest smile.

Then I slipped. Or fell. Whichever you like.

And my grades dropped. And I was tired more often. And I'd start preferring a cute little cuddly night in with Netflix and chill (by which I mean ice cream) instead of hightailing it to the river to hike and swim and bask in every glorious moment of unscheduled time. I didn't talk to my friends as much, and those connections began to waver.

So I guess I can't truthfully say that romantic love does not exist on the spectrum of my emotions.

But I do still say "I don't fall in love" much the same way that I say "I don't eat sugar."

gluten free chocolate cake at mediterranean deli auuuugh why i do this to myself

It's a conscious choice to avoid it. Most of the time I am conscientious in checking if there's the possibility of the substance before digging in, and I've dodged a few delicious bullets that way. I don't focus on feeling sorry for what I'm "not supposed to" have; I reframe the situation to remind myself that it's a question of priorities, and that mine are different than instant gratification and nearly-as-immediate regret.

Sometimes I forget to check. Sometimes I willfully forget. Sometimes I think "oh just a little bite won't hurt" and it doesn't and it's lovely and melting and maybe this is what happiness was supposed to be all along and then before I know it it's honey in my coffee every morning and chocolate and fruit for dessert every night and the person I am proud to be dissolves in a pool of uselessness.

Even a taste takes a while to get out of my system, and I know from years' worth of experience that while it's still there, I'll be irritable and unfocused and snippy and weepy and glum and all the other cutting-floor dwarves. With these chemicals in my blood, I become less useful to myself and to the world as a whole. I don't even know how many times I've said aloud to myself and friends after an overdose of sweetness that "It's never worth it."

The longer I keep my resolve, the less it feels like deprivation. Perhaps that's the way it is with other addictions.

I like being useful. I'm almost halfway to useful again.

It's all about priorities, after all.