Life moments exist when one meets a stranger who comes across as something else. You both fall into an existence where it feels like you have known each other since the moment you were born. Your conversations flow with glorious synchrony. One thought, I have definitely found my soulmate, becomes the only statement worthy of the label truth. It’s insignificant that you can count the total number of encounters you’ve had with this person using only the fingers of your right hand, ringing from the truest aspects of your being is the possibility that you and this person can be, will be, and are now in fact, one.
Yet, within these blissful moments of possibility, thorns of reality stick out and prick you: it’s the metallic gold line around the fourth finger of his left hand; it’s the way others look at what you two share with questions in their eyes; it’s the demands of the modern world stealing him from you at moments when all seems to be going on in perfect synchronicity. The thorns hurt. The feelings – bliss and hurt – happen within the same emotional space and you liken some of your reactions to this simultaneous existence of emotions as madness. You are ecstatic, enraged, and depressed all at once. One minute you are jumping to reach the heavens in sweeps of joy. The next you are curled up over a pillow, weeping from the agony of melancholy. Your friends call what you feel a crush, an infatuation, something that will pass. They fail to see all that’s important is the sustenance of the bliss you feel. The key thing is to preserve the bliss, forget the likelihood of love unrequited; realize the possibility of being completely accepted by the stranger.
Of course a lot of all this goes on unsaid, especially to the stranger. A lot of your time goes into intellectualizing the situation: inherent within the point to engage in the pursuit of unrequited love is what can be colloquially referred to as “waste of time”. Even Google knows it. It’s pointless to brood over falling for the married man who exercises (insincere) devotion to his wife, or a straight man who will never requite your amorous interest, or the single man who plants you deep within the zone of friendship. But emotions don’t care. Their uncanny ability to distort the image painted by the intellect makes it seductively easy to forget that falling for the married man, the straight man, or the single uninterested man is a recipe for disaster.
Paradoxically, it is at the source of our emotions we need to begin, by aligning ourselves to the signals they present; offer ourselves the endorsement of our natural proclivity to fall for these men. For they fall within the circle of creatures who stir our amorous desires: men. A lot of misery we feel arise from our attempts to censure ourselves. And at the heart of our censorship is a desire to be good. We do not want to be home wreckers, we do not want to “convert” the straight man, and we do not want to lose our friend. So we tell ourselves consolations like, I can’t fall for this man; I shouldn’t. We say so because it seems like the right thing to say, the good thing. When, in truth, we are already in bruises from the fall.
The least we can do to ease the agony of an unfortunate kind of love is to deter from lying to ourselves. To offer ourselves slices of compassion with our acknowledgement of a universal truth: we are, first and foremost, humans. We didn’t design ourselves, we didn’t come into the world with manuals showing us how to perfectly live our lives, and we, sure enough, didn’t make all the right turns to fall for the wrong person. It rests within our power to dictate the reactions we entertain in our interactions with the external world.
So, should we then go right ahead and wreck the home of the married man, force the straight male compatriot to requite the love we offer, or deliberately concoct plans to steal the heart of the friend who indeliberately stole ours?
In the words of Swiss Philosopher Alain de Botton, the only relationship worth mourning would be the one in which two people desperately wanted to belong, and this wasn’t, in the end, despite all the promising signs, that kind of relationship at all. An apt reminder of the trait of mutuality necessary in the kind of love deserving of our romantic aspirations.
The real victory does not reside in our ability to express/repress the content of our emotions to/from vaguely uninterested strangers who hold our romantic interest: it rests in how well we embrace our truths and align it to what might be considered the highest good.
You are Awesome.