| I and Thou
Falling in love has been compared with intoxication, possession with spirits, illness or divine inspiration. The experience of falling in love is a complex of feelings, perceptions and cognitions designed to bring to two people together in a tight, exclusive bond that supports reproduction. Falling in love requires bodymind “chemistry” to work.
The essential feature of falling in love is a fascination with another person coupled with a drive to be with them and to protect them. Men idealize their loved one and suspend business as usual in favor of serving the needs of their potential spouses. Falling in love has variations that continue to fascinate sophisticated observers of the human drama.
My poetic and iconoclastic friend, Joe Kowalski would be disappointed if he did not “fall in love” frequently in his forays into the world. A transient moment of contact with an attractive woman standing in a crowded subway car was a budding romance. For Kowalski, a brief encounter would inspire a romantic fantasy, a poem or a short story. Kowalski was on a quest to find his true love whom he referred to as Ariadne after the Greek legend of Theseus. Ariadne held the spool of thread that was to lead Theseus out of the labyrinth, avoiding death at the hands of the Minotaur who lurked within.
Adriane’s thread has deep significance for sensitive and romantic men who believe that they will be rescued from their loneliness and despair by a beautiful and loving woman who knows the way.
Joe was a tall, handsome man, elegant and articulate. He attracted women easily but Ariadne was hard to find.
Women have a reciprocal desire to find the knight in shining armor, astride his white horse, who will rescue them from oppression and danger. This desire for the soulmate can be unrelenting and painful for both men and women. The search can be lifelong. The standards are high and the candidates are few and far between.
Joe Kowalski declared in a long poem, abbreviated here:
I looked for you
Francine Prose wrote: "Affairs of the heart, passionate connections that don't involve sex, are as common and as various as any other kind of love. Affairs can be short-lived, the length of a plane ride, a school semester, or a conference; some endure for decades. Some affairs go unacknowledged and pass for intense friendships. Others are declared, discussed, agonized over; still others are recreational, a mild form of amusement. Some are more serious, and when they end may cause a piercing sense of loss and grief. Or they may last and lead to "real" affairs and eventually to marriage, as mine did."
Few humans escape the longing for a soul mate and the painful loneliness when one is not found or found and then lost. The desire for a perfect mate is at the top of every human’s wish list. What is remarkable about most humans is that they never give up, even after several unhappy, even destructive or tragic relationships. Most are willing to try again. This is not a matter of choice but the expression of a deeply imbedded drive to mate.
Love transcends local conditions and may be an inappropriate beginning for long-term partnership in a given social setting. Some couples fall in love and discover after they are living together or married that they are incompatible and cannot sustain the bond that brought them together. When the love intoxication subsides, they awaken to the banal realties of relationship with aptitudes, attitudes, needs and habits that may not match.