Friday, December 16, 2005

Loving a friend

Recently I joked that boys and girls can never be only friends. After the huge backlash primarily from girls who insisted that boys and girls could definitely be only friends, I decided to give this issue a lot of thought. However, instead of answers, all I have are more questions. The primary question is – “How can one differentiate from the love one has for a friend and romantic love?”
The Oxford Dictionary defines “love” as deep affection or fondness or a beloved one. We all know that there is bound to be love and affection in every friendship. However, the degree of affection varies from friend to friend. After all, one doesn’t share the same degree of intimacy with every friend. So, it all boils down to the intensity of affection that one has for a friend, and it is almost impossible to draw a line between friendly love and romantic love, as it is all subject to personal interpretation.

Here, let’s just examine the development of a friendship. I believe that a boy will develop a friendship with a girl in two cases:

1. He is attracted to the girl (physical attributes/charming personality etc.) and wants to be friends with her in the hope of taking the relationship to the next ‘logical’ level.

2. He may not be attracted to the girl initially. However, with passage of time and regular interaction, starts to not only find her nature, personality etc very appealing, but also grows emotionally dependent on her.

Boys will generally tend to interpret (or misinterpret) his emotional attachment and growing affection for a friend as “love” as he views it as an acceptable logical conclusion to a friendship as promoted by the movies J. However, a girl will always ignore all subtle hints made by the boy and consider it to be just a gradual deepening of the friendship.

So, why do the boys keep their newfound “love” a secret?
Basically, a boy is quite risk-averse and wouldn’t want to lose what he already has. Additionally, complications such as – the girl being romantically involved with someone else, girl having confided to the boy of her love for someone else, etc force the boy to keep quiet. But, the sad part is that, once a boy decides that he is in love, he tends to go overboard and falls deeper and deeper in love.

There will soon come a point when the boy stops making subtle hints and soon, the girl cannot deny that her friend has feelings for her. But, girls will still avoid confronting the issue. Why? Basically, a girl is quite risk-averse and wouldn’t want to lose what she already has." :)

But, if the boy makes the mistake of actually verbalizing his (interpretation/misinterpretation of deep affection) love for his friend, then the situation changes drastically. If the girl also had underlying feelings for him, they both live happily ever after. But, in most of the cases, the girl would probably say “I never looked at you as more than a friend. When did this happen?”

The boy could respond in two ways:

1. “I have always loved you.” This response will come from the type 1 of friendship, where the boy initiated the friendship with the intention to take it to this “logical conclusion”. So, I believe this boy would be in a better position to move on.

2. “I have no idea. I guess it happened over time.” This response will come from type 2 of friendship. Type 2 of friendship is either a truly intense friendship packed with emotional bonding or it could be the real deal – the true love that everyone dreams about. In either case, moving on is extremely difficult for the boy. If there was misinterpretation involved in the second case, a beautiful friendship just got destroyed by an error in judgment (misinterpretation).

But if it was true love, then it’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all…. even if did involve falling in love with a friend......

Anup R


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