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"No... I agree... [saying 'i love you'] doesn't need to be this big deal... but it is a big deal. But for me, as was for you, it was also a realization that my life was better with her, than without her.

But I wish friends would tell each other more that they love each other as well..."

- from paul, via b109 

i've posted on this topic somewhat before, here. i'm also reminded of a question posed once in a small group, which was something to the effect of "do you tell people 'i love you' often?" on a different occasion, the question of the night was "what's the craziest thing you've ever done for love?"

okay. two immediate reactions to that question: 1) i've done plenty of silly, crazy things for people i love, and 2) i know for certain that my own answers don't answer the question that's actually being asked. because, of course, the question implied romantic love, and that's what we really mean when we ask questions like that without qualifying the word love somehow, right? and so, i decided i should sit and remain awkwardly, obviously, silent. i thought about saying the hell with it, i'll give an example of a crazy thing i've done for a friend. prove a point, you know? except someone else did that and the response was immediately questioned: "so... are you saying you were in love with your friend...?" granted, there may have been some translation issues if i remember correctly, but still. nope. huh-uh. definitely staying quiet on this one.

perhaps i'm just jaded. cynical. as stated elsewhere, friendship is overlooked and underappreciated. i originally had the word "often" nestled in there, but decided it was more truthful without. a few weeks ago i was at the library, wandering through the fiction aisles. to be quite honest, i was just looking for a book about friendships; a book that didn't revolve around marriage or casual sex or dating or any other various and sundry topics that i had no experience with or patience for reading about at the moment. not surprisingly, it took me a damn long time to find one. and even then it still wasn't quite what i was going for.

"friendship is a thing most necessary to life, since without friends no one would choose to live, though possessed of all other advantages."  -  aristotle 

but let's face it: phileo always ends up taking a backseat to eros. more than a little frustrating to those lacking their share of eros... but so it is. and in my honest moments, i sometimes wonder if my life would be easier if i didn't care so much; if i just let people come and go, indifferent to befriending acquaintances, just watching them wandering in and out of my social sphere. of course i know the answer to that is... yes. but that kind of life would really suck, wouldn't it?

my answer to the first ice breaker question was: yes and no. i don't go around telling everyone, all the time, cheapening it to a level along the lines of 'i love ice cream'. but with those people i DO choose to tell... i tend to say it often. and even then, it's probably far less frequent than i would like.

it's not a big deal... but it is a big deal. well said. i stand with paul. 

Posted on Tuesday, June 20, 2006 at 12:30AM by Registered Commentermdog | Comments13 Comments

Reader Comments (13)

I've been told by good friends that I rarely say, 'I love you.' They're right, and I think I know why. I grew up without hearing or using those words much, and even today I'm often uncertain when they are appropriate. Because they are rare for me, they feel weighty and awkward. I blurt out a lot of things, but you'll notice that I rarely blurt out weighty things without intention. Confusing things even more, for me, my friends are my family, and I very much love them in that familiar sense.

Then there's this whole mess of romantic love, which I have so far found inferior to friendship. I'm almost to the point where I'd rather be friends because it's neater. I've only told one person 'I love you' in the romantic sense, and those of you who knew us know that didn't turn out too well in the end.

C.S. Lewis writes, "The co-existence of Friendship and Eros may also help some moderns to realise that Friendship is in reality a love, and even as great a love as Eros. Suppose you are fortunate enough to have "fallen in love with" and married your Friend. And now suppose it possible that you were offered the choice of two futures: "Either you two will cease to be lovers but remain forever joint seekers of the same God, the same beauty, the same truth, or else, losing all that, you will retain as long as you live the raptures and ardours, all the wonder and the wild desire of Eros. Choose which you please." Which one should we choose? Which choice should we not regret after we had made it?"

Lewis makes friendship sound sexy (by that I mean attractive and appealing). And it is. Eros, and perhaps all of life, is empty without it.
Jun 20, 2006 at 08:58AM | Unregistered CommenterJared
"I grew up without hearing or using those words much ... Confusing things even more, for me, my friends are my family, and I very much love them in that familiar sense."

amen, brother... thanks for sharing. you read my mind.

also: lewis is awesome.

also also: see why i suggested the banner? ;)
Jun 20, 2006 at 12:28PM | Registered Commentermdog
I love you, Mdog.

I love you, Jared.
Jun 20, 2006 at 02:49PM | Unregistered Commenterpaul
Now I'm feeling all warm and fuzzy. Maybe we'll have to have a group hug tonight. ;-)
Jun 20, 2006 at 03:00PM | Unregistered CommenterJared
and i'm going to miss it! crap. don't forget to hold hands and sing "kumbya". :)
Jun 20, 2006 at 03:13PM | Registered Commentermdog
virtual hugs...

[sniff sniff]

"And friends are friends forever, if the Lord's the Lord of them..."
Jun 20, 2006 at 04:08PM | Unregistered Commenterpaul
aaaaaaand all hope of serious responses are now out of the question... sheesh!
Jun 20, 2006 at 04:26PM | Registered Commentermdog
Paul, m-dog, I read your blogs about friends in Athens and I want to come back.

I moved away 10 months ago, but more recently whenever I come back to visit, I want to stay.

And my reasoning is the same. I want to stay where my friends are. And be near my friends for the long-term.
Jun 20, 2006 at 07:54PM | Unregistered Commenterkt
mdog, we all love you! personnally, i don't really say it to anyone but my mom. after she says it to me. i don't know, it just doesn't seem natural for me. sometimes i tell my friends on special ocassions. definitely not enough. my friend andrea used to say it all the time, but i don't even talk to her anymore.
Jun 20, 2006 at 08:39PM | Unregistered Commenterjoybird
I suppose I fall into the group of willing to reciprocate an "I love you", but I have great difficulty in initiating it. My family didn't say it often. I'd like to be more comfortable with initiating "I love you's" and hugs, etc. Though I admit right now it's not a big priority: I feel like I'm still mostly working on just developing the friendships. But ultimately, of course, I would like friendships in which love was freely expressed--both verbally and in the form of hugs, which are just wonderful things.

On a more practical note: mdog, did you ever find a book centered on friendship? Because I could probably recommend some, though I don't really know what sort of fiction you like to read. But you're right: it's much harder to find books that center on friendship rather than romantic love.
Jun 20, 2006 at 10:55PM | Unregistered CommenterJennifer
kt - let's face it: it's because of me. i'm so awesome. it's okay to admit it.

jen - yes, hugs ARE wonderful things. love. them. and i don't really know what sort of fiction i like to read anymore. at this point i judge all books by their covers because i'm totally out of the fiction loop.
Jun 21, 2006 at 12:16PM | Registered Commentermdog
Mdog: I guess I was thinking more of what genre do you like to read. I wouldn't bother recommending any sci-fi or children's books if you don't particularly like those categories (I do). I'm not sure I really know you well enough to know what you might like/dislike in a story. So I'll just recommend the ones I like. One good fiction book that stands out in my mind as centering on a deep, loving friendship and involving very very little romance is A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. The story is about a man reflecting/remembering the one friendship that completely altered his life.

If you like your books challenging and philosophical, I can recommend no better book than Descent Into Hell by Charles Williams. Don't be fooled by the title: Williams was a friend of C.S. Lewis and in this book he writes about the spiritual development of two individuals: one who finds joy and heaven and one who pushes away everyone, seeking self and hell. The character who finds joy forms a friendship/mentorship with a poet that changes her life. It is the best book I have ever read.

Another good one (in the sci-fi/fantasy genre) is the Phillip Pullman trilogy called His Dark Materials. All of the main character's motivations for her actions are rooted in her deep loyalty to her friends. She will quite literally go to the ends of all the worlds to help them/keep a promise to them. There is some romance, but not until the end and it's only maybe a few chapters out of three books--definitely not the major theme of the book.

Another good book, if you like coming-of-age type books, is A Bridge to Terebithia by Katherine Paterson. It's about a friendship between two neighbors: a boy and a girl and it's one of those books that everyone should read, like Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn (two other books that feature friendship as a theme and no romance). Then of course, there's always the Harry Potter books.

I'm sure there are many more, but that's what I can come up with after one day of thinking about it that I've personally read and liked. I'm noticing a lack of friendships between women in my list (they are all male/male or female/male friendships), so I may have to give this some more thought just to balance things out. If you haven't guessed yet, I LOVE recommending good books to people. Nancy Pearle is my idol. ;)
Jun 21, 2006 at 01:18PM | Unregistered CommenterJennifer
Hey, MDog great post. And I want you to know I appreciate you and your writing. I'm so glad we got a chance to meet in person before I left Ohio.
Jun 26, 2006 at 10:47AM | Unregistered CommenterTB

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