For the first time in my life I’m actually contemplating something truly long-term.
And it’s terrifying.
Well, not the long-term part. I can easily see spending the rest of my life with someone. It’s getting to that “rest of my life with someone” that’s frightening.
I’ve never been in any sort of relationship before. Never been emotionally intimate with anyone, not quite to this level. Not where I feel comfortable opening up to a guy, laying myself out there, flaws and all for him to either accept or categorically reject. And it’s frightening, but at the same time reassuring.
I’ve been revisiting Lewis’ The Four Loves lately, for obvious reasons. There are a couple of interesting passages.
We may say, and not quite untruly, that we have chosen our friends and the woman we love for their various excellences—for beauty, frankness, goodness of heart, with intelligence, or what not. But it had to be the particular kind of wit, the particular kind of beauty, the particular kind of goodness that we like, and we have our personal tastes in these matters. That is why friends and lovers feel that they were “made for one another.” The especial glory of Affection is that it can unite those who most emphatically, even comically, are not; people who, if they had not found themselves put down by fate in the same household or community, would have had nothing to do with each other. If affection grows out of this—of course it often does not–their eyes begin to open. (p36)
Last Friday I wrote him this:
I don’t think I’m wholly “in love” with you… yet. But I’m getting there. Falling slowly. And I think that’s good that it’s happening this way. I like you a lot, that’s for damn sure. You know that and what you do to me when you call or write. I’m definitely infatuated with you right now, and I’m waiting for that to fade into something deeper.
When I said that I’m not “in love” with you yet, I don’t mean that I don’t love you. I think right now what we have are eros (sexual love or desire for the Beloved), phileo (love between friends) and storge (affection). But what has yet to really cement is the sacrificial gift-love, agapeo. And that’s what I know I don’t have yet. But it will come.
If that doesn’t make the poor guy feel inadequate, I don’t know what will. Luckily he knew what I was talking about (he’d taken a philosophy class), and he’s trying to be realistic too. That’s the great thing about our relationship up to this point, the fact that we can be so open and honest with each other. It takes some couples months – years, sometimes, and thousands of dollars of therapy – to get there. But we’ve essentially just met, so there’s really no way that I can possibly know if he’s “The One.”
Lovers are always talking to one another about their love; Friends hardly ever about their Friendship. Lovers are normally face to face, absorbed in each other; Friends, side by side, absorbed in some common interest. (p61)
This is one area in which it’s pretty certain that we’re more than friends. We are constantly talking about each other. We’re talking about whether we’re really “in love.” Bizarrely, we’re also talking about our future, things we’d like to do together. We talked again last night, and are trying to take a step back and acknowledge the possibility that we might be just friends, though I think neither of us want that, but in the interest of being realistic we need to at least be open to that. He has said that he’d be “vocally supportive” of whatever I choose to do but I know he’d be miserable if I ended up with someone else.
Nothing so enriches an erotic love as the discovery that the Beloved can deeply, truly and spontaneously enter into Friendship with the Friends you already had: to feel that not only are we two united by erotic love but we three or four or five are all travellers on the same quest, have all a common vision.
The co-existence of Friendship and Eros may also help some moderns to realise that Friendship is in reality a love, and even as great a love as Eros. Suppose you are fortunate enough to have “fallen in love with” and married your Friend. And now suppose it possible that you were offered the choice of two futures: “Either you two will cease to be lovers but remain forever joint seekers of the same God, the same beauty, the same truth, or else, losing all that, you will retain as long as you live the raptures and ardours, all the wonder and the wild desire of Eros.
And conversely, erotic love may lead to Friendship between the lovers. But this, so far from obliterating the distinction between the two loves, puts it in a clearer light. If one who was first, in the deep and full sense, your Friend, is then gradually or suddenly revealed as also your lover you will certainly not want to share the Beloved’s erotic love with any third. But you will have no jealousy at all about sharing the Friendship. (p67)
This is probably what I hope for more than anything; that my friendship with him will turn into something much deeper. We sort of entered right away into the intermediary stage between Friends and Lovers, where it was clear from the start that we were definitely interested in each other. Fortunately, the distance prevented sex from entering into the equation, and nothing ruins a relationship quite like starting from there.
There are a lot of thoughts from this weekend, but this is a start.