Friendship and Love

When I look at how long it’s been since I’ve written anything long form, I have to ask myself why that’s been. I put the blame squarely on mobile phones getting more and more entertaining and addictive. Not only are they controlling us, but I’m convinced they are actively making us dumber. I’m so busy looking for updates and tap dancing for likes with picture captions and blurbs that I have lost the art of long form communication. Let’s see if I can reclaim it.

Today I found myself thinking about love. Love is a concept that I feel is very difficult for men to talk about and frankly even to think about. It doesn’t come as naturally to us as it does, perhaps, to women, it’s always a bit chaotic from our perspective. I think a lot of guys see love as a point in time, or an achievement even, the moment where you select someone you’d like to have a very personal and deep relationship with.

But I think women see love as more of a constant energy flow and frankly I think that’s probably more akin to the reality of it. Many psychologists say that our lives are like one long film reel and that our romantic relationships are just a natural continuation of our relationships with our opposite sex parents (f we’re straight). It makes sense if you think about it, everything we know about the opposite gender comes from our parents initially, and I think we become fairly set in our ways in terms of how to respond to that particular brand of energy.

So in some ways it could be said that your first romantic relationship was with your mom or dad. I know for some of you that’s all too literal in a very unfunny way, but I think all of us to some degree see our parents in our lovers, oftentimes as much as we may see them in ourselves. We are, at all times, navigating the waters of interaction with the masculine or feminine energy in our life and its meaning for us.

This may be particularly noticeable for those of us who don’t have any explicitly romantic relationships in our lives. The romantic side of us still exists, but we don’t have an expression for it. Sometimes it’s tempting to offer that expression to someone you know doesn’t really deserve it, or for whom you have no intention of following through, just because you want to be able to express that part of yourself so badly. I notice that I have at times had a tendency to fixate on people who were unavailable or uninterested because the fantasy I lived out in my own mind was preferable to the reality that I really had no better options.

So the question becomes how do you express your romantic side in a healthy way when you’re single? If you were thinking I had an answer to this I’m sorry to disappoint you as I really don’t know. I suppose you can just try to be a gentleman and be true to yourself. Maybe that’s good enough.

But if I was in a relationship now, I have to say I think I would focus on a very high quality friendship. I am thinking about a conversation I once had with my high school sweetheart’s mom. They had been married for close to 20 years at that point and I asked her if she still loved her husband. “Not the way you and my daughter love each other,” she said. “It’s different. But in the ways that really count I think it’s better.” For some reason I remember this conversation so well and remember feeling that she was telling me the truth, and I wondered what this different but better love could be like. She had sounded sad when she admitted her love with her husband was not the same as my love with her daughter, but satisfied when she said it was better.

As a single man, I don’t have the option of loving a partner that’s been in my life consistently for that long, but I wonder what love would be satisfying for me at this stage of my life. What would give me the satisfaction that my girlfriend’s mother was describing? I can say that the puppy love I was experiencing with my girlfriend as a teenager wouldn’t be appealing for me at this time.

Again, this isn’t something I understand deeply, so I’m forced to make a guess. My guess though is that she was describing a feeling of acceptance with her partner. A feeling of knowing who he was and that they were in it to take care of each other, enjoy their time and take the ride together.

That’s gotta be a good feeling.

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