Thursday, October 13, 2016

Falling In Love

In his poem "Falling," which I've referenced before, Patrick Phillips writes that falling in love "happens at least a dozen times a day", but he still belongs to his spouse. 

I talk about having crushes a lot, and it makes people uncomfortable. I do not think of having a crush as cheating, I think of it as acknowledging that I'm attracted to something or someone in some way - attraction is not the same as being unfaithful. This [fascinating] article describes the common idea of falling in love as the process of meeting someone to whom you are drawn, getting to know them, getting physical, and finally getting sexual (although I think it's misleading to make sex sound like the final phase).

As a married, monogamous women, I only fall in love half way with anyone but my husband, but I think the meeting and getting to know someone part of falling in love is underestimated in its power and its beauty much of the time. And its ability to happen apart from ones spouse. Whether half falling in love is appropriate apart from one's significant other probably depends on the situation. 

I certainly don't crush on just anyone or anything, but that feeling of really clicking with someone is so wonderful, I chase it and find myself entwined. I love the excitement and the newness, and one of the greatest challenges in marriage (for me) is to cultivate a sense of mystery and desire in spite of having already gotten everything that I want. 

For me, the longing and the "getting to know someone" phase is the most intoxicating, and I want to be known just as intensely in return. It's a little shocking when this happens with someone new - I don't really have casual relationships in my life, mostly just infatuated ones (that's a bit of an exaggeration, but you get my drift). Since being married, I'm pretty careful not to get anything close to infatuated with any man, but I've found my capacity to be caught up with my [platonic] love for a woman to be just as powerful and almost as curious and dangerous feeling. I don't mean to say that women should stay away from friendships with men if they're married, but considering how easily I fall in love, I generally limit my relationships to women because I am heterosexual and relationships with women thereby make falling wholey in love less likely. 

I don't believe in there being only one soul mate out there for any one of us in the sense that there is literally only one person for you, and if they happen to live in Timbuktu, you've lost your chance at love. I think I could fall in love with plenty of people given the chance, and/but I'm delighted that the person who was willing to go on that journey with me ended up being Jonas.

I saw a child's shirt one time that said, "please don't talk to me, I fall in love so easily" (turns out it's a song), and that's exactly how I feel. There is something about the power and intimacy of words, particularly written words, in my case, that just sends me head over heels. To know someone's secrets is one of the most personal experiences that exist. 

The thing that got me thinking about falling in love was browsing this article right before bed (at which point I whipped out the laptop and started writing this because this entire concept so seized me). There's an often cited experiment of staring into someone's eyes for 2-4 minutes, and that act accelerating the process of falling in love. Jonas told that to me even before we were dating and we used to lock eyes. It was kind of a flirtatious game, but who knows, maybe that's what started everything...

The article includes a series of questions that is supposed to aid two strangers in falling in love. I'm a bit obsessed with asking this type of question of people that I care for. I think a lot of people I love can attest to the fact that I can be "intense." This kind of thing is to me like a shiny object is to a squirrel. In fact, I have this whole category of blog posts called "Musings" in which I just go ahead and answer this kind of personal-ish question that people don't end up actually asking in regular conversation. These are the kinds of answers that tell you so much about someone and are difficult to give a canned answer to. 

These are much harder to answer than they appear to be at first glance, even for me, who manages to have these kind of answers stashed away. As I'm reading them, it is crazy how intimate some of these answers feel, even though I consider myself to have very few, if any, secrets. There are several that I couldn't answer publicly, for sure. I wonder if those are the ones that make me fall in love...

What does falling in love feel like for you? Do you fall in love (at least halfway) with your closest friends? What draws you to someone?

Here are some of my answers to the questions from the article. I'd love to hear some of your answers too (I promise to probably not fall half-way in love with you). 

Set I
1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest? A Chinese friend I lost contact with. I'm afraid of actually trying to find her - I feel guilty that I haven't tried some of the more drastic things I could try, worried that I'd never find her anyway (or never go as far as I could in my attempts), and worried that if I did find her, nothing would come of it - we'd say, "hi, nice to have reconnected", and that would be it. 
2. Would you like to be famous? In what way? I think so. Not necessarily in the red-carpet sense, but I'd like to create something outstanding and have other people connect with it to the point of adoration for the work. 
3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why? If I'm nervous about the conversation, I will probably rehearse it, but I communicate in writing whenever possible (which allows for the maximum amount of rehearsing!). 
4. What would constitute a “perfect” day for you? Something planned for me by someone who knows me extremely well - not a total surprise, because they unsettle me, but also not a highly structured series of events that I'm told about beforehand, because then I will inevitably find something that doesn't live up to the image I had of it in my head. Perfection is unplanned, stress-free, in-the-moment satisfaction. #highmaintenance 
5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else? I sing to myself if I have a song stuck in my head or if a song I love is playing, and I sing to my kids every night, but it's been many years since I sang with my real voice for other adults without disguising it in goofyness. I'm afraid that I won't sound as good as I think I do, and thereby humiliate myself. 
6. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want? It depends on what is meant by a 30-year-old mind. If we're talking about the clarity of a 30-year-old mind, I'd rather have that, but if we're talking in terms of experience and maturity of the mind, I'd rather have a body that is less  worn out and a seasoned mind. 
7. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die? Not really. I think a plane crash is probably ideal (relatively short lived, easy and almost poetic body disposal, likely to be with a loved one, probably on the way to somewhere I'm excited to be going), but unlikely. I'm appalled at the idea that I might die in a stupid accident, like getting hit by a falling coconut or something. I hope my death is dignified in some way. 
9. For what in your life do you feel most grateful? Probably my faith, which I think is kind of a curious and morphing phenomenon. 
10. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be? I would have liked a friend who survived moving. I ended up having this in my siblings, but that didn't really happen in the way that I craved until adulthood (partly because I wouldn't let it). 
12. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be? A desire/enjoyment/consistency to be in shape. And upon second thought, I'd like the retain emotional-knowledge from one situation (er, argument) to another so that I never have to find myself promising to do better next time while feeling like I probably can't/won't. 

Set II
13. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know? Probably nothing - knowing the future without being able to change it is a curse, in my opinion. If I knew that the future could be altered by changing things now, then I suppose I'd want to know what my biggest mistakes will be so that I could try to avoid them. 
16. What do you value most in a friendship? Probably attentiveness that matches mine - a comfortable mutual understanding of what the proper amount of intimacy is. I have yet to achieve this... 
19. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why? I would stop making excuses not to travel, and I would pay more attention to my kids instead of seeing them as getting in my way. 
20. What does friendship mean to you? Friendship is highly intentional to me. It's ideally a life-time commitment, like a family member that you get to choose, or a spouse that you're not sleeping with. Maybe this boils down to loyalty. 
21. What roles do love and affection play in your life? I think I see love and affection as the most precious thing that I have to offer, so I am both careful and extravagant with it, and also allow a lot of pain into my life because of how I choose to love or give affection (that is, deeply).
23. How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s? I do think my childhood was happier than many, and so it confuses me that it feels so sad to look back on it sometimes. Growing up, I considered my family to be close but not warm (largely because I did not seek warmth), but I feel it is much warmer now. 
27. If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know. I will be a giant time commitment, but I will also be the best friend you've ever had. 
30. When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself? I think it's been a few months since I cried in front of someone else, but I cried by myself last week. 
32. What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about? Sexual assault of anyone or harm of children. 

{image credits: 1, 2, 3}

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