Thoughts by Richard Bleil
You’re in big trouble. I’m going to tell your significant other about our relationship!
There are a couple of words in our language that I’ve often felt like brings out fear in people: relationship and love.
I’m watching a movie wherein the main character, an author, was speaking with a young woman he barely knows and begins to refer to their “relationship”, to which she had the usual response of panic and pulling back. The funny thing, though, is that he is right.
The word “relationship” often gives rise to connotations of sexual or romantic entanglements, but in reality, its true meaning is very broad. The reality is that you have a relationship with everybody that ever crosses or crossed your path. Whether you know me personally or not, we, you and I, have a relationship. When you walk down the road of a strange busy city, every person you see has a relationship with you.
Let’s be fair, most of these relationships are meaningless. That person visiting campus that saw me in passing has a relationship with me that, frankly, will likely not have an impact, if at all, on either of our lives. But it’s a relationship nonetheless. So, when somebody cringes if I happen to mention our “relationship” I think it’s pretty funny.
In my humble opinion, limiting the meanings of these terms by immediately assuming aspects that are unintended waters down the language. I’ve had relationships with some very important people in my life, relationships that have helped bring me to where I am today. They’ve guided me in my career and been with me in the bad times. Reading that the wrong way and it has implications that are quite inappropriate, but when I type it, what I mean is that I have been blessed with great friends who mean the world to me and have been my guides and guardians throughout my life.
Which gives rise to the second term, love. You can love somebody without being in love with them, but because people immediately assume the one type of love that is inappropriate in so many situations, you can barely utter the word without somebody misunderstanding it. I have to admit, it is possible that this is largely because of the double entendres of the music of my generation. The Beatle’s Abby Road is probably one of my favorite albums of all time, and the second-to-last song which ended a medley on side two called “The End” had the lyrics, in their entirety, “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make”.
None the less, you cannot tell somebody that you love them without it going in one very specific direction. I had a female friend whose mother was suddenly having an emergency operation, and when I found out, I went to the hospital to give my support. I said to you, “I hope you know that I love you…” and before I could go any further, she rolled her eyes and said, “Oh god…” “No,” I stopped her, “not like that; I love you like a daughter.”
It’s unfortunate that, as a society, there is so much sigma associated with that phrase. It’s no wonder why we are so uptight about saying it, but I also believe that our society would be so much better if we could. I’ve never been attracted to a man physically, but I feel comfortable enough to say that I have known men that I do love. But in our society, there is no way to say this without immediately creating stress and misunderstanding.
I suppose there is no point to this particular blog. I know; you’re so glad I waited to tell you until the VERY END, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to really change society. Homophobia, fear of commitment, and unfortunately pressure exerted on women through the use of terms such as these are far too ingrained in who we are as Americans, and one little blog won’t make a significant difference in this.
Maybe the point, like so many of my blogs, is to encourage my readers to think of their own opinions and habits. And no judgment. Heck, I don’t know how you respond to this concept anyway, so it’s just you, but when you think about relationships, do you limit the thoughts to romantic entanglements or the broader concept? If somebody tells you that they love you, does it have to mean marriage in the future or are you comfortable with expressions of platonic love?
For what it’s worth, as my reader, I love you and I’m fortunate to have this relationship with you.