February 16, 2005
Lately I've been thinking about love vs. friendship.
I realize that in many ways, my former marriage just about met my ideals for a good marriage: a secure base that met many needs and wants of both people, but it also was a platform for two independent lives and sets of interests. In the long run, this turned out not to be enough for my ex and it occurs to me now that I was caught so offguard by the marriage's collapse because it did seem to be just what I would have hoped for.
But I have to admit, a marriage like that does look like an "enhanced friendship"...an extremely strong friendship with an additional layer of physical intimacy. It has quantitavely more closeness than even "best friends", in terms of sharing plans and finances and housing, and I think part of the question is do those differences add up to a qualitative difference--or is it just a big spectrum of gray?
Sometimes I feel like a monster just for thinking of the question in these terms, that something is missing or so damaged in me (and has been since before my former marriage) that I have to pontificate about what comes naturally and instinctively to almost everyone else. (On the other hand, I've met enough people with whom I vehemently disagree who "just know" that they're right that I have a strong distrust of intuitive knowledge.) Or should a hunt for "true love" be to keep searching until these feelings show up?
Romance has a lot of traditional boyfriend/girlfriend patterns that friendships lack. Are these cultural artifacts or just what come naturally, or some combination? Sometimes I feel like I'm "going through the motions"...but I'm usually happy to do this because I really don't want to dissapoint the other person. And trying to meet the other person's needs and wants is a big part of what passes for romance for me--I didn't have an overwhelming want to be married, or to buy a house, but I was perfectly content to throw myself into both because I sincerely cared for Mo, and it seems like that's what she needed for her own happiness.
I'd welcome thoughts on any what makes romance romance relative to the other types of close relationships we have.