Tuesday, December 30, 2014

I don't believe in unrequited love

Recently, someone revealed that he is "in love" with someone who is in a relationship.  I commented that I don't believe in unrequited love.  I think two people can fall in love and never be together, but I don't think it can be love when the feelings aren't mutual.  If there's no reciprocation, the person who thinks he's in love is fixated on the idea of this other person being with him.  It's infatuation, not love.  It's putting the other person on a pedestal, thinking she's the perfect person for you, when you haven't been with her to know her quirks and flaws.   You don't know what it's like to be intimate with her, and you won't get the chance because she's in a relationship (at least if it's a happy one, and not failing already).

This person said that he liked certain qualities of her personality and the fact that she makes him happy with ease.  That's what friends do.  The fact that the friend happens to be the gender you prefer doesn't make it a romantic relationship.  That idea is only coming from one side.  She's with someone else; she isn't looking for intimacy with you.

If he's waiting for her relationship to fail, he does not respect her.  Who wishes the pain of a failed relationship and a breakup on someone, just so he has a chance of being with her?  That's selfish, and love isn't selfish.  It's unkind, and love is not unkind.  It's an "If I can't have her, nobody can" mentality.

There are plenty of single people out there.  Finding someone compatible is difficult, to be sure, but if you're looking at people who already believe they've found someone compatible, you are looking in the wrong places.


Steve Berry said...

I think that the definition of "in love" is what is really in question...

If your definition of "In Love" is limited to only being valid if it's qualified by reciprocation from the other person, then I think you're missing an entire universe of 'in-love'.
I don't believe that love must be mutual in order to 'count' as love. I've seen plenty of examples where a person is "in love" with another person, a pet, a car, a doll, an imaginary concept, ... whatever...doesn't matter. THEY feel the feelings and they are real to them. Who are you to tell them their feelings aren't 'real'. You appear to be marginalizing or minimalizing someone else's concept of love. Which ( slippery slope notwithstanding ) is typically the territory of close-minded individuals. i.e. "Two men can't be in love", "A black man and a white woman can't be in love!"...

Infatuation is "a short term" passion for someone/thing. Yet someone can feel 'in-love' for years towards another...

Further, your false premises lead to grand oversimplifications. "If he's waiting[...], he does not respect her" <- how so? You assume he's hoping for a break up. It's just as likely that someone out there in the same situation isn't 'hoping/waiting', but instead admiring from a distance and if that relationship dies naturally, without his influence, he could step into a romantic involvement when SHE is ready... That seems pretty respectful to me.

And as someone who knew the depths of your anguish and despair at trying to find one of the 'plentiful single people out there'... I gotta call bullshit on this post. Get down off of the high-horse and realize that you may be using this one example as a basis for a sweeping generalization.

Greg Reich said...

I'm going to respectfully disagree.

I've never engaged in the behavior, first of all--I have never loved from afar and continued to wait for a person who was already in a relationship.

Yes, I went through a stressful time between my failed marriage and my current relationship, but you never saw me obsess over someone I couldn't have.

Yes, their feelings are real, but their idea of that person often isn't, and maintaining feelings that aren't returned for someone you can't have long enough for their relationship to die--even naturally--is unhealthy, in my opinion.

Comparing it to being closed-minded about who people can love is disingenuous. It's loving someone who is in love with someone else--it's a dead end. If you're saying wrong of me to say that you shouldn't be in love with someone who is already in love, then I will respectfully say that I disagree. I think you should move on.

I think waiting for someone's relationship to die because you're so fixated on one individual represents an unhealthy obsession.

Greg Reich said...

I do acknowledge different types of love--the love for a pet, a car, a friend, or a child is completely different than romantic love, which is what I'm addressing here.

Steve Berry said...

So let's breakdown some of your rebuttal arguments:

1 - "their feelings are real, but their idea of that person often isn't"
So, when, exactly does one get a 'real' idea of someone? If they've been close, non-romantic friends for 10 years would they not have a 'real' idea of the person? I'm not 'in love' with you but I think we have pretty 'real' ideas of who each other are...

2 - "I think you should move on"
As if feelings were under conscious control? Should you have taken that advice during the years you were angry at your ex? Just move on? We are emotional creatures and don't simply turn-off feelings. I believe you're drastically oversimplifying it.

3 - "waiting for someone's relationship to die"
I think I missed that part in the original post - Actively trying to affect a relationship is DEFINITELY wrong... But as I stated in my example, if someone was admiring from a distance, I see nothing wrong with it. It's up to that person in how/what/when they focus their lives, not anyone else. If they waste their time waiting and it works out, how is that a bad thing? If it never works out, they've only affected themselves.

4 - "it's a dead end"
Again, what's it to YOU? Why are you judging them? If a woman thought her best friend's husband was amazing and was 'in love' with him,... as long as she never did anything inappropriate, what's wrong with it? She's an adult... She's having adult feelings...

5 - romantic love is different
Shall we start googling folks that have romantic relationships with their car, doll, whatever? Romantic love is whatever that person describes it to be. Just like I can't say that the romantic love you have for Jeanie isn't real, you can't say that the romantic love someone else has isn't real - regardless it's form. Doing so IS the same comparison to a closeminded individual, I'm sorry you don't see that. The people that voted against Gay marriage have the same blind-spot.

The main problem I have with "Greg's take" on this subject is that it is judgmental and close-minded towards someone else's feelings and I don't believe any feeling should be judged. They're not right nor wrong - they just exist. How one externalizes those feelings can be held up to cultural/ethical/moral relativity, but that's a debate for the philosophy majors :P

I felt that your position that someone is 'unhealthy' or 'selfish' with the implication that they are either lazy or incompetent in looking for someone else was brutish and bullying. I know you have more empathy and compassion for people so this post struck me as incongruent. But as always, i respect ya even though you're completely wrong on this one :P

Greg Reich said...

To address your first point: when you've become both intimate and friendly with someone, that's when you have a real idea of what it's like to be in a relationship with them. When you've experienced living with them, loving them, being affectionate; when you've learned their flaws and quirks and continued to love them in spite or because of them. Until then, you've experienced friendship.

Your second point, regarding my failed marriage: when did I ever pine for my ex? When, in all the time that you've known me, have I pined away, saying how much I love her and how I wish she'd get back with me? Yes, I've been angry with her, and man, I have reason. Being angry with someone is not being in love with them. If I continued to be angry, it's because she's given me reason.

Third point: Admiring from a distance is fine, if you're not sabotaging the relationship, and if you're not depriving yourself of what you could have with another person. I didn't do that in the five years between my ex and Jeanie. I didn't have a fixation on anyone I couldn't have. I decided at some point that I would just focus on raising Caitlin...but then I joined that mingle group on Facebook. I was still going to wait another year, but then I met Jeanie--and I didn't hesitate with her.

Fourth point: what's it to me? When people are constantly asking for advice regarding these situations, they are putting it out there for me. This post was prompted by someone asking advice for exactly this kind of situation. I am a bit jaded, admittedly, because most situations aren't like your example. The guy is often saying "Women date assholes," or "I could treat her so much better than he can," and they're constantly trying to sabotage the relationship, often by preying on the woman just after she's been in an argument or is having some conflict with her significant other. If more people could handle their feelings like adults, I don't think I'd have the problem with it that I do.

Fifth point: We are going to continue to disagree on this point, because I don't think you can have romance with an object or with someone who does not consent. You're never going to have the intimacy of a relationship. You're not going to have the affection. You're not going to understand what it's like to live together, make important decisions in life together, have children together (if you want them), or any of the things you can only do in a relationship. I am a firm support of the idea that sexual compatibility is important in a relationship, and you're not going to know if that compatibility exists if you never have sex. Before we bring it up, sexual compatibility is not the sole indicator of whether you belong in a relationship or not--I have met women with whom I am sexually compatible, but they weren't relationship material at all. You need the whole picture.

I respect your opinion, but I think feelings, while real, are equivalent to beliefs in the respect that they blind you to reality. I think if you're grounded in reality, you can control your feelings, however strong. You can understand logically that you don't have a chance of being with this other person, and your feelings can diminish over time if you move in another direction. Have your feelings, recognize them, but don't let them consume you.

Steve Berry said...

Misunderstanding Alert! - I didn't intend to imply you pined for your ex. I was trying to say that love and anger are both emotions, and you couldn't choose to stop being angry with her in-as-much as someone can choose to stop loving someone. I was pointing out that your argument to 'just get over it' was unrealistic and false. It was ambiguous wording on my part. Sorry bro.

to the Third Point, weren't you and Jeanie both still married when you pursued her? I'll grant you that your relationships were romantically over, but that's splitting hairs.

To the fourth point, it's a personal example from my life. There was a girl that I knew for a LONG time, but I was too afraid that if I tried to move out of friendship, I'd lose her; so I stayed in the friend-zone and was happy. I know at certain points I felt I was in love with her, but I never ONCE tried to sabotage her relationship with someone else ( in fact, I hooked her up with her husband ).
Another example, closer to yours, is a friend who was good friends with a guy who married a woman. He thought she was awesome but never took it past that ( admired from afar ). She and her husband broke up and THE HUSBAND of all people told her to date the guy in question. They've been married for 20 years now.
The point is, generalizations as the one in your original post show a closed-mind. By saying "this isn't x" you're putting it out there that anyone that includes x as a subset is, in your eyes, wrong/bad. As you know, I'm completely intolerant of intolerance... :P

"If more people could handle their feelings like adults.." /AGREE #amenBruthah! Yes, if adults could handle their feelings, things would be different. But I postulate that if other adults were open minded and less judgey (sp), adults would be better prepared to handle their own feelings without shame, negativity, and/or fear.

I sensed from your op that there was some frustration with being asked your opinion on this dude's situation, and perhaps that tainted the rest of the post, but that doesn't negate the rest...

Fifth point - I'm ok with agree-to-disagree. Intimacy is a construction within the mind of the person that defines it. You feel 'intimacy' for Jeanie... What if she's actually a sociopath that biologically CAN NOT return that feeling. Instead she just pretends so well that you don't know the difference. Does that mean you aren't feeling intimacy? Of course not! You're feeling it because it's a state within your own mind. Some people create that state with inanimate objects or things that cannot consent. Their state of intimacy is just as valid as yours is.

"...they blind you to reality" And that's what it comes down to... I recall a conversation with you where I pinned you down on the following question:
Are you absolutely certain, without question of doubt, that God does not exist? You answered that you are absolutely, without question, certain that there is no God. And we debated around and around the validity of a christian's certainty that there is a God without any proof of existance versus your certainty that there wasn't one with the same degree of lack of proof for non-existance. I told you that I always keep an open mind because without the possibility for doubt in the absence of empirical evidence, you're guilty of the same leap of faith that religious folks make. But that was an argument for a different day :P

I can agree with your closing remarks after "You can understand logically.." and I think that falls in line with the 'adult' comment above.. but I don't think one can always control every feeling one has ( but I'll keep an open mind :P )

ps - man I miss the ol TISChat debates!!!!

Steve Berry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Asherraa Reese said...

I read this aND a question comes to mind from a conversation I had with an ex. Can love be defined? Maybe not in words. But I whole-heartedly believe that we define what love looks like in a healthy relationship. We know love by actions. This ex chose to say that he doesn't define love because "people have expectations and they expect you to be that."

To me? That shirked any responsibility that he was to have in a committed relationship. If he did something I felt took me and our relationship for granted? He could always say "I didn't define love." Something done or not done to grow as a couple? "That's pc. I don't live by "PC" rules of a relationship. You can't prove I don't love you." Sure, I might not have been able to crawl in his mind, I could see just how much "love" he had for me. He only "loved" me when I was giving in to what he wanted. What I wanted? Diminished by him.

What I'm getting at is that in the situation you mentioned it would be best if he did distance himself. Maybe things will change and she is free to date him if she wants to. It is not healthy for him or her if he is meddling.