One thing I’ve observed in life is what makes for satisfying companionship. To connect with others is a fundamental emotional need very rarely met and impossible to do over the internet. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not trying to take anyone’s internet relationships away. For some people, this is all they have and it is much better than nothing. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having internet friends; it is only that they can never fully make up for a lack of friendship in the real world. These are my observations:
Text is not enough. To really connect with someone I have to see them in three dimensions, in motion, responding in real time to my actions. I savor every involuntary scrunching of the eyebrows right at the punchline of my jokes. Through this I gain a better understanding of their thought processes than mere words could ever convey. Of course, this could be done through a video call, but meeting someone in person is better.
Meeting someone in person demonstrates you care enough about them to go out of your way. It is not the time to spend texting everyone else who isn’t there. If those other people need your attention, they should have come. It is unfair to ignore the one who went out of her way for you. Divided attention is not only distracting to the one engaged in the activity, but also to those attempting to communicate to him.
Meeting someone in person builds trust. They at least know that you really do live in the area and are not lying about your looks. They also know that their secrets are only being heard by one person rather than remaining in text form in someone’s computer forever.
True friendship requires your time. When I was in junior high school, I spent three hours a day six days a week with the same guy. It was simply a given that I would run down the hill to his house after school and play. We never had to wonder whether we would be bored or lonely that day. I always assumed that when we grew up we would live in the same house or own/work for the same business. My ideal life was for us to live together in a spaceship and explore the galaxy, but I don’t think that will happen. As adults, our lives are full of necessary chores and employment taking up most of our time, but if you aren’t spending at least six hours a week with someone it calls into question whether you are really friends. An objection I have heard raised to this point is that there might be months or years that you do not see someone, but with good friends you are always able to pick up where you left off. This is true, but it only applies to those you are already good friends with. If you hardly ever see someone, it is impossible to become friends in the first place.
True friendship requires having the same basic outlook on life. You must have the same worldview. This does not mean agreeing on everything. For example, two people can disagree on global warming and each bring evidence to support their side and remain friends. However, if one of them doesn’t even believe in evidence, makes no effort to defend her opinion, and relies solely on intuition, every conversation they ever have on any subject will be incredibly awkward.
True friendship requires that you not be enemies. It sounds obvious, but people often don’t seem to get it. Stealing from or physically injuring me is only one step away from ordering others to do it, which is in turn only one step away from electing candidates that will order others to do it. Those who spew hatred and preach prosecution of those that live differently from them always make me uncomfortable – even if they don’t vote. I understand that people often vote for one candidate only to defeat another even worse one, and I understand that others either aren’t as well informed as I or else I am not as well informed as them, so I am not quick to reject someone just because they vote differently. My problem is with people who have a fundamentally different notion of what constitutes self-defense. If they think it right to steal from me by using violence and I think it right to prevent such theft by using violence, I feel like I have to constantly watch my back around them. I can never relax.
There have been people I almost immediately “click” with and many more that I do not. I need someone who can laugh and not take everything so seriously. I need someone who I can synchronize a work flow with so that he is not always in my way and I in his. I need someone that will not stupidly misunderstand everything I say, including my attempts to correct the misunderstanding. I need someone who will automatically understand the intent behind my words, understanding not only the content but why it is that I bothered to say anything. I need someone who will know what I’m getting at without me having to spell it out. I need someone that will look in the direction I’m pointing instead of in the opposite direction (yes, this has happened). I need someone I can share my secrets and dreams with. I need someone who wants to travel, explore, and learn with me. Maybe I’m asking for too much, but without these things I know from experience that I will be deeply lonely. I have met people like this before, so I know they exist, but it has been years since they were a part of my life. Some of them became really busy in work, or found other friends, or got into drugs. Some of them started families that tied them down. Some of them changed and became enemies. Some won’t talk to me. Others I have lost contact with and have no idea if they are even still alive. I’m still waiting to meet the next true friend.
While everyone has different tastes and emotional needs, and it is not my place to tell others what they should want, there are certain things that I know I will never be satisfied without and this is what I define as true friendship.
While it has been a long time since I’ve had a friend, I’ve never come anywhere near finding romance. The first and most important attribute I look for in a romantic partner is that we either are or can be true friends. Everything that I look for in a friend I also look for in a romantic partner. If I can’t be friends with you, there is no possible way I can be romantic. You are better off with someone else.
Romance isn’t only about what I get out of it, but about what I can give. There is not much that brings me greater joy than to help another person and see someone I love prosper. I am willing to make sacrifices. I get a lot out of giving, but if I can’t even give, I get nothing. If I feel that I have nothing to offer that you don’t already have or if I get the feeling that you only put up with me so you won’t be seen alone in public, I will lose whatever interest I might have initially had. We must be complimentary in some way, making each other complete.
This complimentarity is especially poignant when it comes to creating life and all romance is by its very nature inherently heterosexual. There is little that compares to teaching another person all about the world that they are new to. To share and raise children with someone as a team is incredibly romantic. I understand the desire to wait, but sexual partners not ever open to having kids (biological or adopted) are not engaging in true romance.
Romance requires emotional intimacy and physical intimacy, including sexual intimacy. Humans need intimacy. It is a fundamental emotional need. This requires physical contact. Pheromones do not travel through phone lines. However, intimacy cannot be rushed, or it will create discomfort and prevent true intimacy from ever occurring. One must ease into it gradually.
While everyone has different tastes and emotional needs, and it is not my place to tell others what they should want, there are certain things that I know I will never be satisfied without and this is what I define as true romance.
Of course, anything is better than nothing and I never turn anyone away. I meet people where they are in life and appreciate whatever good I can find in them without dwelling on the bad. I am always giving people more chances; I just wish they would do the same for me.
My name is Dan. I am an author, artist, explorer, and contemplator of subjects large and small.