I wanted to talk to you about girls.
But I can’t because you would react like I touched a lit match to your skin. If I kept talking, you’d react like I was holding your head under water.
So I thought I’d write to you about it a little. This way we can both pretend I never said a word.
Girls, women. Females.
Our relationship to them as men, as heterosexual men anyway, is so deep that it has no distance from who we are. Our relationship with women is a kind of hub for the rest of our lives. We look at them and we see what we hope for and dream of. Sometimes it’s only lust, a fiery urge: sometimes it’s romance, an irreplaceable heart connection to a one of a kind person. Sometimes it’s kind of about who you want to be in this life. Sometimes it’s clear water insight and sometimes it’s a fever dream.
Sexuality and attraction are like nitrogen in the air, they are basic, and forever. You won’t know life from here on without it. There is a longing in the soul to know and be close and there is a longing in almost all bodies to join their essence with a beautiful otherness to make new life, that is like you, and like her and yet new. Making babies is where our single note joins with another and makes a chord. The desire and the love is that chord. I’m unlikely to run out of metaphors talking about love and sex because it is the inspiration for variation and creation. Sex is voting with love for new life.
I don’t mean sex is only about reproduction. Numerically, sex is rarely about reproduction but at the same time, almost all sex is about the possibility of reproduction. It’s always possible and it’s often a silent discussion like “Us? Maybe? Ever? Soon?” Even though there are times that people are oblivious to those thoughts inside themselves, there is something fundamental and magnetic and deeper than ordinary relationship issues pulling us toward making new people.
But rather than drag on about the universal magic in the air, let me tell you some useful things.
There’s a principle we might as well get out on the table right away. Whatever you do, there are people who you will never fit with …and who will never fit with you. You can be dead certain that someone is right for you and they’ll be dead certain they aren’t. You can’t fix fundamental chemistry, willpower and good intentions will not substitute. When you are rejected it will feel like they just didn’t give it a fair chance but then someone will be attracted to you and you will know right down to your DNA that it isn’t meant to be and that no amount of chance giving will make any difference. Chemistry is mysterious but utterly real. Chemistry often speaks at an UNCONSCIOUS level. It can be frustrating and even heartbreaking but I’d advise you not to war against it but to strive to learn from it. If someone rejects you, either right away or after being in a relationship for a while, my advice is to accept that judgment. Even if you wish they felt differently, the battle to convince another person that you are worthy is corrosive to your self-respect and simultaneous off-putting to the person you are trying to convince. If you possibly can, just let it be. A person who must be convinced to appreciate you is not a good partner.
It’s possible to be cruel by half-heartedly staying with someone who leaves you a bit flat because your “cold fish” love is all they can get from you. It’s also cruel to yourself because you never get to feel the “smashed open fire-hydrant ” of generosity and passion that love at least CAN be. No peak experience stays dizzying forever but that doesn’t mean it is fake, or unimportant. Peak experiences are here to deepen our relationship to life and often, to carry us over difficulties that would ordinarily defeat us. Impracticality in love isn’t only found in rash exuberance, it’s also in choices that are too pessimistic or miserly. That sort of choice pretends to be the safe pathway, but it is not safe, just joyless, and fearful.
When you start out with girls there’s a lot of electricity and magic to every positive encounter. There’s a kind of dizzy confusing ecstasy to getting to know a young lady and feeling that she likes you. And frequently crushing doubts and uncertainty. It’s an out of control elevator and I envy you and also don’t envy you at all. It’s wonderawful.
Trust that you can handle ups and downs, don’t run from risk. Part of what we seem to be here for is to have experiences. They don’t all make sense or lead to where we hoped, in fact mostly they do not. But these experiences are the journey and they are the road to developing as a person. As much as I pray for your happiness and well being every day, staying out of harm’s way emotionally is not happiness or a path that leads there. I pray you will be happy and have great success, I don’t pray that you remain untested and unscathed by life. I pray that you have the necessary highs and lows to create a huge space inside you from which to appreciate all the wonders. I wish you a tall life and a deep one and a wide one.
Who is the right girl? Your life will tell you. When we are attracted it is often for different reasons. This girl makes you feel like a snorting bull, this one makes you feel adoring, this one is funny and comradely. Your life has its reasons for any swelling of the heart and other organs. You don’t have to understand everything that is happening and that’s good because you WON’T. It can be very confusing at times knowing how or even WHAT you feel.
Something basic about attraction though is that we bring out something new in our personalities with every new person we get close to. Notice whether you like the person you become around her. This is one of the truest tests of “good or bad” in this confusing area. If you feel unhappy with the person you are becoming around someone it probably isn’t really their fault, it’s probably the weirdness of chemistry again which can warp our very natures into strange shapes. You should listen seriously to what your soul has to say in moments of reflection. It’s especially important if that person you aren’t happy about becoming is the one they seem to like.
I wish you perspective and wisdom here too, looking back I realize how happy some of those very “comradely” relationships have made me. Even if you feel passion, maybe ESPECIALLY if you feel passion, you must find someone you can be silly with. Laughter is a kind of ecstatic balm for the stresses and strains of a long-term relationship. A shared sense of humor is profoundly intimate and healing. Real friendship doesn’t exclude true love, it’s often the purest well-spring of it. It means you already love that girl no matter what she offers or withholds from you. It’s delighting in a person in the purest sense.
Beware acting in any ungenuine way to win affection. Be charming, by all means, be funny and brilliant and impress her. Be good, be your best, but don’t be anything you aren’t and don’t pretend to feel things you don’t feel. You will always have a blessing and helpful core of truth backing you up if you show aspects of your genuine self. Imagine the disappointment you would feel if you lured the woman you long to be close to with a fake version of yourself, only to realize that REAL you could never be close to her that way and that your truth would emerge as if it was a lie.
“Be yourself, everyone else is taken. ” Not Abraham Lincoln, 1861