Submitted by Delaine
I dare say I’ve had an epiphany in the relationship department; a giant revelation around what I ultimately need. And though it may seem an obvious component to you, I’m afraid it’s something I’ve never had before. And I can’t help but grin cause it came via a most unusual source.
Do you remember my Handsome Good Man? He’s the widower I met online over a year ago that I continue to write to to this day. I’ve never met him, never heard his voice, and never will. But through our most unexpected relationship, which is cyber alone, he has helped lift me out of my divorce grief and overcome my anger towards men. Moreover it is a result of our online relationship that this revelation dawned on me: he became my first ever male friend.
When I look back on all my past relationships with men, I can’t say we’ve ever truly been friends. Sounds funny, doesn’t it? I mean, we talked and did things together and acted like friends on the surface. But did I really feel understood and valued and free to be 100% me? Honestly? No. In part that was because I didn’t know myself. But it also came from jumping into bed too early, and desperately WANTING to be in love; I was in love with the idea of love. And as for the men I dated since divorcing, the opposite was true – I desperately wanted NOT to love…so friendship beyond anything superficial was out of the question.
I always thought that the idea of men and women being ‘close friends’ was a farce. Cause in my experience, someone always wanted ‘more.’ Moreover, it only made sense to me that if a man and woman shared a deep, intimate emotional bond, they’d eventually extend it the sexual realm; just part of human nature. Thus, I figured the only REAL friendships I could have were with girlfriends; the desire for ‘more’ wasn’t an option there.
But then my Good Man came along…and gradually a depth of sharing and intimacy manifested unlike anything I’d ever experienced before. We could talk for hours – every night. We’d laugh, talk about nothing, talk about anything, and we’d even bicker. It didn’t matter what my mood was or what issue I was tackling, he was always there to respond – respectfully. Thoughtfully. Authentically.
I admit that as our relationship blossomed, I was worried: Where was this online-thing going? Cause yes, through our sharing, I’d developed feelings for him. My closest girlfriends voiced similar concerns: “Aren’t you kind of wasting your time if you don’t meet him in person? What if you’re falling in love with someone who lives thousands of miles away?”
But what I’ve realized is that the only reason I was able to develop any feelings for this man was BECAUSE of our distance; it made me feel safe. Had I known he might show up at my door the next day, I’d never have opened up to him. No…the universe hadn’t sent him into my life to be a life partner; rather, he’d been sent to teach me – about the powerful importance of friendship in a relationship.
And so now, as I sit back, I can’t help but laugh at myself. Cause for awhile, I was pretty angry – I seemed to have developed feelings for yet ANOTHER unavailable man. But no. Our relationship was never designed to be a cruel joke or tragic love affair. I just had to dig a bit deeper. And alas, I now see that the universe gave me exactly what I needed.