Sparks and true love, in a nutshell

MONDAY, 10 NOVEMBER 2008

There is true love, and there is sexual attraction. There is love that lasts a lifetime, and there are sparks of sexual desire.

Sometimes you feel sexually attracted to a person, you take a chance, and you enjoy it for as long as it lasts. But if you end up staying together, the sexual attraction must eventually be augmented with something more substantial, namely love, the kind that can last a lifetime, until long after the sparks have cooled down and you occasionally catch yourself wondering what it would be like with someone else.

The other day I stumbled onto a story of a man madly in love with a woman. The woman regards the man a pleasant enough fellow: he is kind, he can have conversations about interesting things, but that’s where it stops for her. She wonders if a person can force a heart that doesn’t want to beat faster. She thinks about sexual desire, for example, that is after all an honest physical response to someone’s presence.

The woman in the story seems to picture for herself a very specific life with the man, should she choose to be with him, a life where things would always be like they are now: he loves her, she pulls back. Five years later: he’s still crazy about her, she’s still distant. Twenty years later: he still loves her; she cares about him but she doesn’t reciprocate his warmth, and occasionally she thinks back to an affair she had two decades earlier with a guy that looked like a movie star.

In my opinion, reality looks slightly different in many cases: the man is currently at X+20, and the woman is at X+2; after two years, he is at X+15, and she is at X+7; after 10 years, she cannot imagine a life without him; he still loves her very much – he still brings her breakfast in bed on Sundays, but sparks from his side do not set the wallpaper on fire anymore. That is how life sometimes is, in a nutshell.

Of course, things could turn out completely different between the woman and the man who doesn’t look like a movie star. His torch may start showing signs of dimming after a few years, and he may start looking at other women just as the women in his life increasingly wants to be closer to him. This is also how life sometimes works out, in a different nutshell.

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