Monday, February 8, 2010

Love, Intimacy, and Friendship

I have often heard it said that the best romantic relationships are made up of friends who realize at some point that they are attracted to each other and become lovers. It sounds lovely. And reasonable.

But I just can’t fathom it.

The other night, after waking from a nightmare and wishing my boyfriend hadn’t broken up with me so I’d have someone to cry on, I started thinking about my friends and the likelihood that we would ever eventually find ourselves suddenly having chemistry. We'd just be sitting around playing board games and joking with each other and suddenly the air would feel different, our eyes would soften, and... it was a stretch. I mean, when you meet someone, there's pretty much an automatic categorization of the person... would I, or would I not, sleep with this person. Granted, there are people you meet who you may find tremendously attractive, but once you realize their partner feels the same way, initial attraction slides into camaraderie. (At least, for practical folks like me who don't like to painfully pine for unavailable people.) In sum, you either you do or you don't.

I was ready to wash the whole thought pattern as some ridiculous romantic fantasy created by Hollywood, when I remembered my ex’s friends. They were friends all through college, dating other people but never each other when suddenly one day they found themselves to be in love. And just like the movies all said it would be, they are fantastic together. Consummate partners in everything from social obligations to sharing responsibilities for their new baby. The baby. The thing that couples bring into their lives often to save a relationship, not understanding that you can’t have one unless you’re utterly stable because as much as it draws you together, it can separate you if not working like a synchronized swimming team. They did this, and with utter sympathy for the other’s duties. That’s a partnership.

I do wish for that, but I just can’t understand how it happens. How can you not immediately know if you find someone sexually attractive? Is it be possible a friend of mine and I will suddenly realize there’s an intersection in our hearts that we just hadn’t noticed before. How marvelous it would be to fall in love with someone I already love. And trust. And have seen at their worst and love them still. And they'd love me despite all the persnickety details that make new love less shiny. How lucky I would be.