The little story opens with a boy who has such a crush on a girl he follows her everywhere. She can’t go anywhere without him tagging along like a hopeful stray pup.
Finally, after weeks of this, she stops, turns, and asks, “Why do you keep following me like this?”
His answer is artless and to the point: “Because you’re the prettiest thing I’ve ever seen, and I think I’m falling in love with you.”
“Really?” she responded. “But you haven’t seen my friend, yet. She’s a lot prettier than me, and she’s standing right behind you.”
The boy frowned and looked over his shoulder. Puzzled and a little indignant, he said, “There’s nobody there.”
“I know. But if you are really falling in love with me, you wouldn’t have looked.”
Yes, that’s kind of catty. If the roles were reversed, the girl would certainly look, too.
“Love” gets overused, even abused, until one can be excused for not being sure what’s meant. We all have private mental ideas and ideals attached to our own definitions of what Love looks like, how we’re sure we’ll experience it.
Along comes a boy or a girl we like. Really like. Suddenly LOVE is dropped into our hearts and minds. Like one of those TV Plinko games, “Love” goes ‘ploink’, ‘ploink’, ‘ploink’ing it’s way down, bouncing off all our idealized notions, and lodging in the bottom of our hearts.
Yup. Love. Married. Mortgaged. Mommy and Daddy. The works.
The problem is, that boy or girl is another uniquely-imperfect human being. Flawed. Dinged, scraped, abraded, rubbed raw. Maybe even cracked or outright broken. Suddenly it hits: that person isn’t talking, acting, playing or responding according to our expectations. They’re not on script!
I’m sure by now you know the most likely reactions. It’s why there’s so much separation and divorce in our world. There’s another that is slower and more subtle, yet just as lethal and just as detrimental to an established home: one spouse arbitrarily deciding to withdraw inside a kind of mental forcefield that leaves the other out–yet without telling them.
That spouse seems to live absorbed within their earlier defined ideals of Love, in a kind of dreamy, imaginary togetherness bubble that never plays out in real life. Result: the other partner finds him- or herself constantly left out without knowing why. The longer this continues, the weaker that relationship becomes.
Few if any outsiders ever know this is happening. It’s even possible the bubble-wrapped partner isn’t aware of their mental withdrawal, either. Unless some catalyst triggers a confession, an entire lifetime could be spent by the one never once having been truly loved, nor the other ever having given themself wholly to the other.
When using ‘Love’, it’s advisable to ask: “What do you mean when you say, ‘love’? Can you unpack that and help me understand what that is for you?” Listen. Pay attention. It could be the difference between spending life with someone who unconditionally does love you, or with a congenial stand-in who eventually figures out they’re always going to somehow come up short, no matter how long or diligently they try.
So. Would you have looked? Probably. We’re all notoriously curious, aren’t we? Boys and girls both are still figuring out what love is and isn’t. They tend to be cow-eyed follow one another around. Why, I know of one boy who even followed a girl along some railroad tracks . . .
Crazy what some people do for what they think of Love, isn’t it?
Don’t make assumptions when dealing with another’s heart.
Cute games are for children.
© D. Dean Boone, March 2018