Once we were lovers…
We lie in bed, feeling separate, alone. Each of us wants it to be different, but neither makes the move to start. How can we reach each other through all this history? How did it come to this?
When we met, there was a spark. Maybe it was chemistry? We enjoyed each other’s company. We went places and did things. We shared our thoughts, our politics, our religious beliefs, our world-view, and our little jokes. We were friends. We introduced our new friend to our old friends and family: “I’d like you to meet my friend Jessie…”
Then we were more than friends. We kissed, held hands, touched each other. We completed each other’s sentences. Maybe love evolved out of friendship, or one of us was just waiting till the other “woke up”. Maybe it hit both of us like a bolt from the blue. However it happened, we went from being friends to being lovers. Now we shared our bodies with each other. We had sex. We made love. Maybe I still thought of you as my best friend, but in my heart it was a special category of friendship. Having my friend become my lover created a different kind of friendship. Now that we were lovers we introduced our lover to our friends and family: “I’d like you to meet my boyfriend/girlfriend Casey…”
Once I was Jessie, and you were Casey. Now we are a couple. No longer two separate beings: John and Mary. Now all our friends and family seem to talk of one being: JessieandCasey. “Did you invite JessieandCasey?” “Did you hear about JessieandCasey?” If only one of us is present the first question asked is always about the missing one. “Hi Jessie, where’s Casey?”
Maybe you or I noticed the surrendering of some autonomy for the sake of relationship, maybe we didn’t notice. Most decisions now have a component of “What would my girlfriend think?” or “I wonder what my boyfriend wants us to do?” It’s just common courtesy to check with the other before agreeing to things. It seems normal to gradually stop socializing with single people and start socializing with other couples.
Maybe you noticed that you were spending less time with your friends and more time with your “sweetie”, your “honey”, your “darling”, your “partner”. There was a time when my social needs were fulfilled by lots of different friends and family members, but one by one the nights out with the guys, the after-work happy hour at the bar with the co-workers, and/or the Saturday or Sunday visit to your family began to fall away. Now, to fulfill our social needs, we look to have our “significant other” replace an entire circle of friends and family.
One day one of us (or both of us) begins to “get serious” about “the relationship” and starts to talk about living together, about our future. Conversations lead to action and, sooner or later, we decide to get married. Maybe it all happened fast, maybe it took years, but at some point we got married. We became “husband or a wife.” With this new “title” we both brought all kinds of unconscious “baggage” about how a husband or wife behaves.
Once married, some of us started to think about making a family, having kids. Now we become “Mom and Dad”. Life revolves around the pregnancy, the delivery, the child, the children. There is no time for intimacy. And talk about unconscious baggage, being parents is like mining the motherlode of Freudian neuroses. After the first or second or third child, maybe you or I or both of us just seemed to lose interest in sex – she is focused on mothering, he doesn’t want to be a mother f*cker.
Once we were friends. Where did our friendship go? When did we stop being lovers? Being in love is a powerful experience. It often takes over your life, your time, your identity. Do you remember when it was seemingly impossible to keep your mind on your work? Remember when you wanted to call your lover 3 or 4 times a day? Remember when being apart was agony?
I believe the passion you once felt, the spark of romantic love, is still alive inside you. It’s in everyone. Perhaps it is just an ember, deeply banked in the ashes of what used to be. That ember can be fanned, that spark nurtured, that fire coaxed back into your heart, mind and body.
Lovely, poignant post. I often wonder if one person can fan the ember and relight the fire in our partner. At what point is it time to say, “We’ve grown apart and maybe we should move on”? Even when I wanted to move on it was still painful to hurt my oldest and dearest friend. I think it’s possible to relight the flame, but I think it takes a big commitment from both people.
Yes, it is just as you say.