Why are Bellamy and Clarke so afraid of love?
There’s an undeniable comparison to be drawn concerning Bellamy, Clarke and their individual approach to the notion of love. Bellamy blooms in the presence of affection. Clarke yearns for company and support; her lovers are her solace. Both require love to power through, and yet there is a noticeable absence of verbal clarity in their love. Why has Bellamy never told anybody that he loves them? Why does Clarke find herself blurting out her confession as her lover dies in her arms? What are they so afraid of? What does love mean for these two?
Both Bellamy and Clarke have been conditioned to perceive love as something extreme. To love somebody carries an incredible amount of weight – to cross over to that side in a relationship implies something drastic would have to happen. So first, let’s discuss what is the reasons behind their intense ideas of love.
Bellamy Blake: “I adore those who adore me first.”
It’s no secret that Bellamy is a lover at heart and has so many emotions he’s been conditioned to control and repress. His idea of love is one that is quite cyclical and paradoxical. I often describe Bellamy’s situation as a catch 22 of sorts: he loves people with such fervour that it burns, but he too needs love as a fuel for his own. So what comes first, the way he loves people or the way in which he is loved? And why is his love so strong? Well, his early attachment to Octavia is the source of his passion. Being that young and having a responsibility so heavy, Bellamy’s care and love and protectiveness had to be extreme. His idea of love amalgamates a fear of failure and, of course, overpowering sense of duty. Because Octavia was of paramount significance to Bellamy (all stemming from my sister, my responsibility), his idea of love was cemented as one in which this form of intrinsic protectiveness was required.
This mantra he’s lived by is very matter-of-fact: basically, you don’t want to know what would happen if something bad were to happen to Octavia because she is your responsibility. That overwhelming idea would have frightened Bellamy so much, forcing a suffocating form of love that leaves no chance for anything bad to happen to Octavia. This was the first time he was given the duty of care and so, very early on, Bellamy’s conception of love was one much more amplified than anybody else’s. Bellamy was raised raising another. He was giving more than he was probably receiving at times. So where’s the love to fuel his own?
It’s anywhere he can find it. Think about it: the look on his face when Clarke told him she needed him, the way he acted when she ran to him and pulled him into a tight embrace, his reaction when Octavia told him ‘I love you, big brother’. He flourishes when he feels love because it’s just about the one emotion he exudes and yearns for in return; it’s the emotion he knows is geared towards him as a person rather than the skills he possesses. He feels when it’s there, and he gravitates towards it because it’s something he desires so badly. He adores those who adore him, and in the circumstance that he is put first, as a priority, it shakes him to the very core. But why does he not explicitly state his love?
Clarke Griffin: “Love is my solace.”
Clarke surrounds herself with love constantly, as it is the source of her liberation. Her will to survive pervades her identity at times and it’s so overwhelming for her. So she reaches out for support, for somebody who bleeds the same, or somebody who being around can free her of her worries. Being constantly singled out for the decisions she has made in the past to ensure the 100′s survival wears her down, it seems, and so the company she seeks is often through romantically and/or sexually-bound relationships. Because love is so paramount to her; because it elevates her in every way possible and gives her the strength to power through hardship…it carries a lot of weight. To love someone, that is.
With Finn, it was almost as if he symbolised an escape for her. He was somebody she could be herself around, somebody who kindled within her a sense of passion and security, and he offered a companionship that she could not seek elsewhere, as the co-leader of her people. The fact that their most intimate scenes took place away from the dropship i.e. away from her duties only further shows this. With Lexa, Clarke found a kindred spirit and somebody she truly connected with. She saw they bled the same, they carried the same burdens, the same guilt, the same sorrows – Finn and Costia and their leadership roles being prime examples. Lexa was her guide, her lover, her oasis, her eye in the storm. She found inner peace when she was with Lexa.
But we have observed the recurring pattern with Clarke and her love dying before her very eyes – to love someone is to kill them, she must think. Her idea of love, much like Bellamy, is heightened because of this. And so an important question to raise is: Why does she only confess at the very last moment?
What do love confessions mean to Bellamy and Clarke?
Conceptually, to both Bellamy and Clarke, love is a line they cannot uncross. The state they both remain in, regarding relationships, is one that does not verbally express affection. They show and don’t tell.
Bellamy and Clarke are absolutely terrified of the idea of mortality. With Bellamy, we know fear manifests wherever his love does. With Clarke, she directly associates her love with death. So to tell their loved ones ‘I love you’ psychologically reinforces the inevitability of death. Because of that inherent fear of failure in Bellamy’s love, and the automatic associating of love with mortality in Clarke…it would be in both Bellamy and Clarke’s nature to firmly hold this idea that love confessions are a time limit, love confessions are a reminder. To confess, to make it known to the world automatically endangers their loved one. It’s a psychological belief: it’s almost as if Bellamy and Clarke feel that if they keep their love for someone a secret from fate itself, it keeps these people immortal, and untouched by death.
Their mentality towards love is something along the lines of ‘I can’t let the world know. I can’t let fate know. Love kills, so if I never say it, I am not putting them in danger.’ To Bellamy and Clarke, confessions have a ring of finality to it that implies that Earth can take them away at any given moment, and they are so fearful of that, they push it to the back of their minds. They show their love through their actions, but never explicitly through their words because not only would that reinstate to the world and destiny itself that this person is irreplaceable so please don’t take them away from me, but it personally reminds both Bellamy and Clarke that one day, their loved one will depart from this world, and they will have no one. People who are special to them, time and time again on Earth, have been harshly taken away from them so they’re now incredibly protective over the last few they have left.
When Clarke confesses, it sounds like a farewell. The last thing she ever told her father, Finn and Lexa was ‘I love you’. And she blurts it out, too, because there’s nothing left to do: fate got to them before her love could. Since Jake’s death, she’s grown to reaffirm her affection for her loved ones before they die, in hopes to lull them into their passing. To give them the comfort of knowing she always felt the same. With Jake and Finn it was gentle yet distressed, but with Lexa, something more interesting happens. She says it, breathlessly, but the desperate look on her face as Lexa departs gives it away: Clarke’s idea of love can sometimes be reversed, and she confesses in hopes that maybe she was wrong all this time, maybe her love was actually the key to their safety. Maybe if she confesses they won’t leave her, after all. But it’s a hopeless kind of belief, and even Clarke knows this.
And with Bellamy? Someone who has always had a fear of death, a fear of the unknown, the inevitable? Love is a force he cannot reckon with, and he’s battling between choosing to perceive mortality as a reason to confess or as a reason to avoid confessing. It’s a fight between hopelessness and relentlessness. (It also comes from his emotional repression, which I talk about here.) He knows deep down that time will run out, but at the same time, he struggles to unlearn the idea that announcing his love puts a death sentence on the person.
And together: To one another, Bellamy and Clarke will not accept the other’s mortality. While everyone else has left them, they are each other’s constants, and they have remained and survived through it all. They have this delusional mentality, particularly Clarke, that the other’s death is simply not a narrative existing in their universe. Likely crafted from the trauma of loss, they simply will not accept that their death is inevitable. Clarke is adamant that Bellamy will always come back to her (re 4x06: No, you will) because heaven knows what will happen if someone as dear to her as Bellamy were to die. The same occurs within Bellamy, to a certain extent. We saw it in 3x02 especially: when Clarke is in danger he will not stop until she is out of harm’s way because the idea of her death absolutely frightens him.
Conclusively: resulting from their past experiences, both Bellamy and Clarke find immense difficulty in stating their love, in fear that it will rouse harsh fate itself – that if they were to confess they would be periling their loved one. Their fear of the end is what stops them from confessing, and they both, in the face of the apocalypse, have begun to try and unlearn this deeply-rooted mentality; that love does not equal death, but rather strength.