Deep, dark confession time: a couple of my friendships with male friends have turned romantic in the past few years. I know, I know, please stifle your gasps and maintain composure, people. You could call them flings, but don't go thinking we did the nasty. Just romantic flings, you might say, not freaky ones. They were nipped in the bud pretty quickly. I've never been in a "serious" relationship.
Still, feeling the animating, vibrant, heart-quickening excitement and happiness of feeling attracted to a guy who was attracted to me was disarmingly wonderful when I experienced it for the first time a couple of years ago. Both times I've experienced it, I simply didn't see it coming. I just became more attracted as I interacted with these friends, and we "hit it off," During the first of such relationships, I found myself sitting in a charming little creperie on a hill realizing, "Oh my gosh! THIS is why people date! It doesn't have to be a chore. This actually is fun to go out and just get to know someone one-on-one and see where the friendship leads! This is why people actually have to be careful where flirtation leads. For the first time, I feel the need to actually use a little discipline, and I like it!" I knew I wasn't looking for a boyfriend, and the romantic side of things, in both cases, had to be curbed. With this newly discovered romantic connection, my heart felt as clearly and naturally as it ever has, and it threw my mind for a loop because what kind of sense did this attraction make? Could it be real? Was it juvenile? Was it exactly what everyone else had been feeling their whole lives? Was it a positive and beautiful thing? What is this kind of attraction worth?
I've had a couple of intimate friendships with female friends whom I loved on some level and appreciated and with whom I could talk endlessly about anything and felt "connected" in a rare way, but when I discovered that the romantic feelings towards a couple of male friends I had known only a short time were so different, without any history or proven commitment to back up that attraction, I wanted to feel both with someone, and one or the other seemed suddenly inadequate when considering a "real" relationship with someone. Suddenly, I wanted to be open, intimate, and converse endlessly but be vulnerable to the other person as they are vulnerable to me. I'd never known that feeling before. I'd always been the one who was somehow more coolheaded and less emotionally invested. Was it possible that I wasn't as cold as I thought? Could it be I, too, was capable of feeling such warmth and affection towards someone? Suddenly, my female friends' vulnerability made sense to me, and it felt good to know I had a real, probably-breakable heart.
But who knows what a "real" romance would be like? One with all the exciting feelings and a healthy foundation? People seem to take them for granted all around me. Or are most romances every bit as shallow? Do most people just not recognize the shallowness of their relationships? Is that why divorce is so common? Is that why gay men rarely have relationships that last beyond a couple of years? Because selfless dedication to a relationship even when you fall "out of love" just isn't part of today's Western culture? Or is there more to it?
Regardless, I now knew I wanted the kind of romance where you actually feel "in love" and build the relationship. One with the foundation and the romantic feelings, a wholeness of attraction with a true friendship to boot. Not a fantasy, "perfect" friend to just feel giddy with, but yes, someone with whom everything else melts away, at least in a sense. Not in a silly, codependent or teen romance way. I don't think I have many illusions about everything always being rosy or the romantic flame always burning brightly. But I'm thinking of a relationship in which you remain whole and confident, your true self but deeply, fully connected and sharing, even vulnerable to an almost uncomfortable yet somehow comfortable degree...is this a foolish notion to think a relationship should be like that? Somehow, it doesn't feel like one.
I could choose to try to find such a "wholeness" of attraction, connection, and emotional bonding, but I sometimes doubt whether I'll find it in either gender, but I try to remember that everyone is an individual, in addition to being part of a demographic, so maybe I'll find someone and allow myself to experience it.
Nevertheless, most often, I feel OK about not having that and recognize it is what I am choosing. But this acceptance is, or has been, both relieving and disconcerting. And I've not come by it easily. And I'm not sure I fully embrace it. I've had my non-contendedly-single moments, especially after these brief romantic flings which brought out such a desire in me which, with the passing of time, fades again into the background.
When the romantic feelings are fresh in my soul, they seem ultimately important, the richest of emotions and experience, and when they're distant, they often seem somewhat superfluous, fanciful and delirious. Could they be all of the above in different applications? What are these feelings all about? What do I want? What's most important to me in life? Do I really have to choose between mutually exclusive options?
But look at me, going off into more heady analysis. I wanted to share a little about my personal experience with romantic feelings, shallow or brief as it may be. But that's another entry...
On to Part 2.
Back to Preface.