Thursday, June 16, 2016

Seeking: Friend

In response to a piece regarding a gay man and female best friend, there was a letter that I liked: 
There's an obsession with romance in our culture. But what we don't talk about in this context is friendship. I don't mean friendship as a substitute for romance. I mean friendship as a component of romance. The most successful couples I know are friends first and foremost. You have to be in order for a relationship to last. There has to be mutual pleasure in each other's company. There has to be laughter and reliability and respect. There has to be recognition of individuality and of connection. There has to be acceptance of flaws and celebration of strengths. But when you start talking this way, people get upset, as if you're trying to deny them their fantasies or get them to "settle" for someone lesser than "the one" who is surely out there somewhere. Friendship doesn't preclude desire. It doesn't preclude passion. It can encompass those things while being bigger and deeper. Friendship is less selfish, more forgiving, and ultimately more substantial. I think a lot of couples who divorce were never friends to begin with (yes, there are certainly counterexamples). They didn't base their relationships on love of each other as people but rather as projected images. Life is hard and I'd much rather get through it with a loving friend than with a friendly lover.—JMOLKA
The article was about deep friendship that could never be romantic. Eric believed that as a gay man, his best and closest relationship should be with a romantic partner, but eventually concluded, after harshly judging gay men living with their female best friends, that love and affection is love and affection—and there is nothing shameful in that. He became his female best friend's flatmate.

I'm not a romantic. I do not fantasize about dreamy proposals with a piping sound track while wearing painful yet gorgeous shoes. Perhaps I am a romantic—if romance means spending time with someone—with conversation or without—who sees me, my values, my priorities, my strengths, my weaknesses, and I see him, as he is. (I wouldn't look gross, mind, but I don't need to have my hair blown to a crisp.)

I fantasize about friendship, the Biblical "reyah," the ideal relationship when two people accept each other, and everything that goes with it.
I have been on dates when it is obvious the suitor is not interested in "seeing" me. Rather, he projects on to me what he has decided I am, what he has decided what I want to hear, what he has decided that I want in life. He doesn't want to see me. Goodbye. I'm in the market for a friend. 
Many things are relative. I read this great line in a book review in TIME: "Her love is passionate but shallow." Passion, for me, seems like a lot of work. Ah, quiet contentment, what could get any better for one who strives to be sedentary? Is passionately shallow love meaningful? Not to me. But that's just me.

In Belva Plain's Evergreen, a female character has a crisis when she discovers that her fierce attachment to her husband is not echoed on his end with equal vehemence. He loves her, yes, but not with the storybook passion that she longs for. He says to her at that there is no set definition for "love"; it's an individual sensation. He loves her, dearly and truly. Just differently.

I have heard it said, in many a rom-com, that "I think we're really good friends, but . . ." 
Hey, you had me at "good friend"!  


Altie said...

while wearing painful yet gorgeous shoes. (I wouldn't look gross, mind, but I don't need to have my hair blown to a crisp).

Lol on those two lines.

This is a good piece, thanks for sharing. Aw years ago it was harder for me to articulate what exactly I was looking for in a spouse. And when I tried to explain it people would tell me that I was looking for something that is unrealistic. I love how people feel like it is their innate purpose in life to 'set me straight' or tell it like it is. But ultimately I am looking for a best friend. And I now think that is possible.

Princess Lea said...

Isn't it adorable how people who barely know you feel like they know you better than you know yourself and they have to "set you straight"? Two words: Bite me. It's a risk I am willing to take.

Yes, it is! There are many different types of relationships. There was an hysterical episode of "black-ish" when the wife realizes they aren't best friends, and she freaks. So he accommodates her and treats her like a best friend, and she doesn't like it. They aren't best friends, and they are happy that way.

There are couples out there like that. But there are others, like me, who yearns for a friend, a pal, a loyalist.