Jul 5, 2005

So I've been thinking about love, lately
No, no, this isn't my way of proclaiming that I'm in love, or I know I'll never love this way again and now I'm going to blog about it...
This is more to do with thoughts on love in general. Romantic love. Partnership.
Now, without being too explicit and transparent, anyone who knows me and reads this blog knows that I very much believe in love. And most people who are reading this probably know also know other various "facts" about my life: that I am single, that I am not currently "betrothed" or "in a relationship" and that I do not believe myself to be actively engaged in partnership or "in love." I say all this because people have a way of jumping to conclusions, and though I at least try to maintain a thin veil of privacy, create a gauzy barrier between what would be considered revelations of a private nature and thoughts on private subject, but from a more public and universal viewpoint, sometimes things left unsaid have way of coloring or implying even grander divulgences.

So, anyway, here I sit intellectualizes the process of selecting a "mate." Something I sometimes suspect should take a lot less thought than it tends to.

The other day I was sitting, listening to two people stab at the subject of what makes couples "work" and what they are looking for in a more permanent kind of love affair or marriage. Many thoughts were expressed: that there are inherent qualities behind love that MAKE no sense, that a certain amount of non-sensical compatability needs to exist that has nothing to do with liking the same seafood or wanting to live in the same city, that one will "know" when they are in something meaningful or experiences a sense of transcendental love/swirling emotion. That real love, the kind worth sticking with sweeps you up, absorbs you.

Now, I know a lot people in what I would term "happy relationships" or "functional partnerships." I, infact, have many differing models of how two people can make a happy go of it, and create a lasting and meaningful love, even, sometimes, when the roads a little rocky. And thinking about this made me examine the assertions my friends were presenting, as well as some other ideas I've had about how one should choose or find "real love."

First off, there is that notion that something special, undefinable needs to be there. Now, without getting too much into semantics and perceptions, it seems to me that this is obviously just...true. Otherwise matchmakers would be in the money and everyone would marry their best friend. Their clearly needs to be a spark, a sense of something extra, there needs to be attraction, and there needs to be comfort. But I wonder how far one should take this?

I mean, when I was young I believed there would be this romantic ZING! This swept off my feet, can't believe how I feel sense of love. However, many of the people I know who are truly, deeply happy together did not feel this when they started out together. They certainly felt something, or they wouldn't have stuck around, but they actually took a while to decide that this person they loved and liked and wanted was the one for them. Others that I know felt something pretty defining and dramatic. But the reality is that many many of the people I know that are happily engaged in a marriage are not with whom they pictured. So maybe what I am saying is that yes: there needs to be extras, more than just friendship and sex, but are they necessarily the extras we grow up to expect? Are some of us looking for some sort of mythical defining characteristic of love and missing the truly unique facets of a pre-existing relationship, or dismissing people out of turn because they don't look, smell, or laugh like the one we always thought we'd swoon for.

And then there is that notion that only an overriding attraction, an almost obsessive romantic attraction needs to be there to make it work. That it'll be love at first site, or a wholly absorbing relationship if it works.
I have definitely grown to question this. In fact, I have had more than one person in my life express that they had series of overwhelming romantic relationships that wouldn't and couldn't work. That in the end, because they were so used to this romantic ideal of love, that they didn't notice for a while how incredibly happy they were with the person they ended up with: that they had this person in their life that was hilarious, inspiring, sexy, sexually compatible, and comforting, and that they wanted to be with them.

Now, I don't know what the fine balance is, and I don't know what the right proportion of ZING vs. reasonable comparability is necessary to make it work. I imagine it's different for every person. And as I have said, I am quite clearly not the expert in this arena.

So I guess I'd like to pose this question to those who might be (ie, those who believe themselves to be in a happy and fulfilling relationship:

How did you feel when you first met your now partner?
What was it that made you realize you were in love?
What is that made you realize you were in it for keeps?
How did it differ from past relationships?
And what is it that you think is necessary for a couple to make a real go of it?

(ps. I've had to momentarily condense the comments on this post in due to some technical issues)


daff0dil said...

Bjetsey said...
hm. no one seems to want to play. ok, I will.
1. I was excited when I first met my partner. He, however, thought I was a homeless person and walked right past. ahhh youth.
2. in love? those zingy feelings in the chest combined with a willingness to spend lots of time together.
3. um. dunno really, I guess when I got married. I realized earlier that it was "serious" but "for keeps" wasn't until marriage.
4. hm. he was smarter than past flings &/or interests.
5. hm. depends on "make a go of it." To really see if you want to be together, I think you need honesty with self and each other & an open mind. to stay together? not so qual/quantifiable.

8:00 PM
Anonymous said...
So. Zing.

After a lot of mid-twenties running around I came to the conclusion
that that falling in love feeling (stop me if I've pontificated on
this before) is a signal. Biochemical, spiritual, whatever; I'm not
sure what it is, but I think it's a clue from the hindbrain or the
netherworld that that guy you're standing next to in the elevator,
or the woman you see manhandling Pynchon in the back corner of the
library might just be the one for you. Emphasis on might. It's a
message telling you to go check it out, to sniff butts and see if
she smells just right.

My mistake, as I see it, was taking that question mark for an
exclamation point. I chased around after several women, convinced
that the feeling I had for them meant that we MUST be together.
Also, that feeling is so wonderful, so fulsome, that it temporarily
pushes away whatever doubts and concerns crowd the frontal lobe. For
that reason, it can be addictive (Good Lord, please rest brother
Palmer, and see he's sung to his eternal reward by a chorus of
flappy-breasted supermodel-lookin' angels), especially if your
frontal lobe is truly crowded with worries.

Then again, for some people love works just right. It's a signal.
You get it. You follow it up. He/she/it/they turn out just right.
You honeymoon in Jamaica, have seven kids (one for each Ivy) and
retire to the Keys, end of story.

Or he/she/it/they turns out wrong and one of you winds up chasing
the other down the gooey tarmac in front of the trailer park,
waving a burning copy of Anna Karenina and screaming "If you come
back here, I'll have the sherriff on you so fast it'll make your
head swim!! And stay away from Billy T. and Rhonda Ann!! They'll
grow up just fine without your lies!!"

I think the trick of love is figuring out when the signal is right.
After a while one needs to calm the mind and imagine the
relationship without the sexy biochemical buzz.
What does a couple need to make a go of it? Some good walking shoes
and a trusty tent. Waterproof underpants. A little imagination and
the willingness to give each other the benefit of the doubt (harder
than it sounds- but in some situations this may be substituted for waterproof underpants).

What made me realize I was in it for keeps was discovering that she
believed in me. Pretty much no matter what. And, by being with her,
I discovered what it means to believe in her fully and truthfully.
There's something about trust in there. The more you can trust (the
best) people, the less likely they are to let you down. The less you
hold back, the more you get. Scary fun. She is one of the best

As for the zing stuff, we go in and out. I find it comes more often
now than it did when we were first together. It comes back to visit
after you've gone through hard stuff together. But it's an added
bonus. It's wonderful flavor, but it aint the main course.

And the final, smug, aggravating Afterschool Special answer is, you
just know it when you find it and it's different for everybody and
even when you find it you don't know for sure.

Remember, your work will never pack half your CD's into a U-Haul and drive up the coast with your best
friend, and your art will never sleep with a stranger and say "It
was because I was drunk...". And, pleasantly, your fashion sense
will never accidentally leave a tape labelled "The best orgy I ever
attended while daff was out of town" in the VCR.

8:03 PM
heydt said...
Well, I wasn't sure I could play this one... bizarre alternative relationships make for either complicated or deceptive answers to this sort of thing.

8:09 PM
Post a Comment

daff0dil said...

hmm, I think I would RATHER have people who have unconventional, but working "loves" comment

to be honest, the whole point of this post was to get feedback who think theya re making it work, even if it's in some bizarre or alternative way

maybe you can extrapolate what might work in general (items of trust, comfort etc...?)

daff0dil said...

so, many people have asked me why I posted this post...what was going on in my mind that would call upon such questions, conjur such discussions...maybe a bit of background will is in order:
and ot be fair, this is a very personal post
if i were at all capable of controlling myself i might know how to not post it
but as it were, my sense of privacy is a bit more unconventional than most

when I was 8 I began to believe in love
oh, what they do to little girls: cinderalla stories, sleeping beauty, movies and magazines and books galore in which people fall endlessly and uncontrollably into a romantic embrace, in which they look into eachothers eyes, and for better or worse say it: "I love you"
in my childs mind I drew up scenarios and fantasies, imagined all the moments in my life in which I might have the same words stated to me, in which anothers adoration would be made clear, moving, and joyful, their devotion encompassing

to be clear, I am still waiting for this event

now, to say I have never been in love would be a cruel misrepresentation of my life, up until now
a claim that would deprive me of my past and more than one man of his due

I have been in love...madly in love, stupidly in love, I have loved a few great people and, sadly, a few questionable ones as well

and to say I've never been loved would be equally unfair...to my friends, to my exes, to my family
I have had more than one person tell me that they loved in me in some accord, and it's always been meaningful, it's always been welcome, it's always been a surprise

but when we are speaking to the scenario in question, and lets avoid the semantical importance of three little words and focus on the grander picture: two people excitedly proclaiming their intent to be with eachother, want eachother, and o invest in eachother, well, no
I haven't done that one
and to be fair, I haven't given anyone that, either

so I'm not complaining, I am not bitching that no one loves me
I am marvelling at the capacity to become absorbed in something that seems so natural, so necessary, so much a root of childhood fantasy and adult whimsy and hope
or maybe I am marvelling at my distinct lack of capacity to come by something that seems so universal
to have an exchange so typical it has become trite, cliche, tired and a given

and as time goes by I've become fascinated, as well, as what makes this love go the extra mile, work...how things move along so naturally, or whether they really move along naturally at all

as someone who I believe has become very adept at nurting all sorts fo relationships, I have found myself unable to fully understand the most ubiquitously examine relationship of all: the loving partnership

and so I queried, and so on and so forth

Anonymous said...

this seems odd...
What about as a teenager? No "I love you billy" moments in the back of the transam?

No stalkers in San Francisco proclaiming misguided devotion?

daff0dil said...

nope, nope