dimanche, janvier 01, 2012

IS love all you need?

I don't really like hurting someone's feelings, even if he is a someone I'm not likely to run into at the Acme.

Though he's not as articulate as I am (but perhaps a lot nicer) I got the message, loud and clear.

I had asked him about his political persuasions.

Oddly enough, religious differences don't bug me (although I'd have as much problems dating a Scientologist as he would dating me).

Earning differences don't bother me, although I would have ethical problems going out with someone who felt he needed to pay for everything and I'd get mad with someone who expected me to fork up for everything.

But politics -- I can feel my mouth curling -- as though, as Alice Longworth Roosevelt said about Calvin Coolidge, I'd been weaned on a pickle.

Truth is that I don't deal well with ideologues. If someone sees an issue as black or white, if he can't juggle potential solutions, if the way he thinks now is the way he thought ten years ago, I know it will be a very big stumbling block.

After I asked him about his political views, he wrote back that I was using the "politics" card as a reason not to meet him.

He is one of the last people to believe that 'love is all you need' he wrote me, implying that those who used politics or religion as a reason to not meet a man like him would find themselves alone.

At first, I was defensive. I worry that I'm turning into one of those singles who can't make room for a vital relationship, one that asks for compromise.

My life would have to change a lot. It's not a matter of making the adjustments that seem to come more simply to the young. By the time we get into our forties and fifties, we've potentially made some pretty big mistakes. And the flip side of that is that we also know ourselves pretty well.

A person who engages with us and our mistakes has got to be both forgiving and willing to tolerate some cracks in the facade.

But then I asked myself the more basic question my friend asked in passing: is love all you need?

And I'd have to answer -- no, it's not everything.

Tolerance helps -- or knowing where, as I said to my online friend, you feel compromise is beyond you. Perhaps you have to practice it, or it gets arthritic.

Physical passion for the other (sigh) doesn't hurt. Nature's joke on us is that we continue to want to feel those sparks after the belly begins to protrude, the limbs cramp up, and the hairline recede.

And compassion -- compassion is huge. If you get close to someone, it is almost guaranteed that you are going to hear things you don't want to hear.

Intimacy isn't easy. In fact, it's frighteningly hard -- else why would so many of us flee from it?

Sometimes, as I may be learning, it's possible to think you are part of the solution, and, in fact, be part of the problem.

Intellectual compatibility is important too, as I've recently discovered -- and been loath to admit to myself.

Tolerance, compassion, physical attraction, a real desire for emotional intimacy and oh yes a common language (even if it's one that you conjugate together) -- all of those, and love too?

Maybe my online pal is correct -- maybe love ought to be all that you need.

But I doubt I'll ever know.

Some of us have to learn the hard way.

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