What separates us from being a couple and just being friends? What makes us transform from friends into couples?

In ancient Sanskrit they are the same thing. Priyatam (Ro. prieten, Eng. friend) means a life partner, a spouse. I would argue that the separations stem from the concepts or preconceptions we have of these things, which tend to be a little different across the spectrum of sexuality – but ultimately not that different.
I am reading this book that I had been unconsciously looking for since first grade, which turns out is called Iolaus – An Anthology of Friendship and was edited by Edward Carpenter (1902). It’s really helpful as it examines how the concept of romance has changed from male couples to couples formed by a man and a woman, and why.
That is, the concept of romantic love did not even exist between men and women before the Middle Ages. But on the other hand, men of the ancient world were taught to believe that women were inferior creatures, so the relationship we would all call “marriage” today was shameful for two free men, because it meant that at least one of them had to take on the female role. It happened occasionally, but in secret. So let’s be clear: they were not ashamed of sexual intercourse inasmuch as it was “a necessity,” but of too strong emotions, which were imagined as the door to the “dark side” (feminine side). This led them to fear that they could do something very bad to their innocent special friend if they expressed the “common” need to form a couple or a family with him. But when you imagine that “women cannot liberate themselves from their passions” you will make sure that you separate yourself from all your feminine aspects and, ironically, it will be this separation that will hurt your friend’s psyche.
So the book says this: until we can somehow merge these romantic traditions together, and see genders as equal in society, and as a result the different “attachments” as equal too, romantic traditions will remain one-sided. (It is precisely for this reason that people will seek out the wrong attachment and become dissatisfied, eventually turning it into hate.)
So I no longer talk about “separations between friendship and love” as I did in adolescence (at that time I thought it was really important), because thinking in those terms leads to that kind of inner struggle that makes for endless confusion (between who you are now, who you want to be after, what people will think, etc). Instead I talk about finding that “best friend” who inspires me with his person to do all the great things a mythical hero does (like the ancient Greeks thought, albeit unilaterally). This is true love for me.
And then I also express this love within other friendships – that is, I love my friends in this way: I show them who I am, and I let them show me who they really are, without judging whether “it will go somewhere or not” or whether it will be judged as a kind of attraction. Nobody should care, just me. In this way we can cultivate the inner truth that is needed to produce healthy concepts of love. Not bad for a “passionate woman” right? (laughs…) The fact is that I used to be very afraid to express myself. It doesn’t mean that I now have all these numerous lovers (not at all), I’m simply discovering myself in a different way: as part of a “human family.” The meaning is they are “friends” to me in the way the Sanskrit language would have it: not because of my relationship with them, but because of their relationship with their love.
For these reasons, I don’t think anything separates us; it’s just a diverse spectrum, where the central, most meaningful relationship to you —your partner— inspires you to be friends with so many people around the world, to understand their lives, to feel those affinities. I mentioned the word “person” here, this is because it is a person who directly inspires you, not the kind of “ideal up there in the castle” that the immature aspires to. These are also important for a while, but after that if you don’t see them becoming your friends (at least from a distance) it’s better to let go of that aspiration.
So for the second part of the question: what makes us transform from friends into couples? The feminine side when it is accepted, of a very special, mutual relationship about which we are certain of how much it means to us.


21/11/2021


Answer requested by Lucia Drîmba

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