Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Unrequited Lover

Take the "friendship" of a man and woman who have no professed attachment to each other, made bittersweet by the hidden love of one for the other-

Rockwell's Losing the Game

... Bluntly, this is bad.

1) Emotional input is not equal. Being romantically (but secretly!) interested in another human being consumes a lot of energy. This can lead to exhaustion, exasperation/feelings of neglect, and confusion on part of the "lovee." (a better word?)

2) Disproportionate attachment, where one friend needs the friend more. A note on word choice- a feeling of deep "need" is generally more characteristic of the connection between lovers than that between friends.

3) This friendship can lead to the "stolen single-ness syndrome." Imagine the message sent by a friend-couple that arrives at a party... most persons will assume they're an actual couple unless they bother asking around. If a girl is busy hanging out with her best guy friend (who she secretly adores), it's possible she'll miss out on the guy who might actually be interested.


  1. The difference you draw in need between friends and lovers is interesting: friendships are Aristotelian, love is Macintyrean (dependent). Would it be better if both were one way or the other? What should we strive for?

  2. Beloved could be a good substitute for "lovee."
    Also, I lovee your stuff Maria and friend, friendship is such a fascinating subject. Might I suggest "Friendship:Interpreting Christian Love" by Liz Carmichael. It's pretty heavy duty but it has good stuff about the historical progression of friendship dating back to Homer.
    Keep up the good work.
    -Liz K(it's going to show up as anonymous but this is quite obviously not)

  3. Matt- good point. I drew that distinction in an attempt to qualify a lover's "need for the other" as almost a hunger. You worry that I exclude dependence from friendship- I didn't mean to. I think friends do share a level of vulnerability and Macintyrean need. I'll definitely have to revisit this.

    Liz- thanks for the obvious suggestion that escaped me- and thanks for the rec!