I went on to spend even more time over the next weeks thinking methodically on the subject of Love, looking at additional aspects to the problem as I saw it – love faded too fast- and drawing a mental plan of how I would avoid it. What I would do as far as girls were concerned, and what I could not do. It was an urgent task. Until I finished constructing an extensive and fitting theoretical framework to guide my actions, and behavior I could not become entangled with romance.
By the time I was done an unusual approach that would guide me for years to come had emerged.
I dispensed with the traditional titles for dating.
Earlier I said that I would avoid definite, spoken declarations of love which would probably make it difficult for me to find a girlfriend. Now I decided that I did not want a girlfriend and- even if I could find one that would tolerate a boyfriend who would not say he loved her- I would not be a boyfriend. I believed the entire dating system to be mostly broken and ineffectual because it typically produced brief, spurious and superficial affection. Therefore, I would do away with it. And in doing so I would also discard the titles to avoid needless confusion. ‘Girlfriend’ and ‘Boyfriend’ were not appropriate words for the relationships I would form.
I’ve been asked if I have a girlfriend more times than I can remember.
“Do you have a girlfriend? ” No/I don’t know. “Why? ” It’s complicated. “What do you mean? You should do a,b,c… or can you not do a,b,c…”
But all that time, I was playing by different rules.
I formed fluid relationships
When I met a new girl, I’d keep an open mind. Here’s a counter example. Boy meets girl he’s attracted to and instantly decides to try and make her his girlfriend. He mightn’t know even her name at this point, not to talk of her personality yet his mission is fixed. Depending on his style, he might flatter her, pursue her affection doggedly, request dates…and at some point, she might relent. Neither of them might truly understand the other’s nature at this point.
If I met a girl, I would simply talk to her and see how our conversations went. This took a while to perfect in practice, but after a few experiences, I eventually learned to not harbor romantic expectations for effective strangers. I have to say that this was a rather useful habit over time. Many times, a couple casual chats are sufficient to reveal that two people have no reason whatsoever to be romantically involved, or are not likely to succeed as even ‘ordinary’ friends. At times, it takes weeks of conversing and some times, even the first talk is enough.
When you try to date a girl, she agrees, then things then fall apart, it can be tough or even impossible to return things to the original state. I can hardly count the number of genuine friendships I have that might not exist if I rushed headfirst into pushing for romance at all costs.
It goes without saying, I do not ‘define relationships’. At least once, shortly after I met a girl, I was asked to “define our relationship” and I declined. When she insisted, I replied that I did not set limits on or targets, of what I could become.
Friendship was crucial
In the popular Indian love drama I am fond of, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai , Rahul tells Tina that “Love is Friendship”. If she will not be his friend, he can not love her. I was in complete agreement with that concept. I thought a sustainable love should be built on an enduring friendship.
And I will say this now: friendship takes a lot of effort and patience. It is far easier to get a girlfriend than make a true female friend. As girls and guys alike are subtly encouraged to ‘fall in love at first sight if it feels right’, you will find many people willing to love strangers…for awhile. Until irreconcilable differences that lurked below the surface show up.
I would make friendship the cornerstone of my plan. I’d take time to know a girl I liked, if she wanted that. So, I’d make reasonable effort while keeping in mind that friendship is a choice and can not be imposed. Because I had no driving underlying motive -there was nothing that I compulsorily wanted to happen -I could walk away blissfully from apathy or disinterest. I could afford to be honest and sincere. No ‘toasting’ necessary.
In Nigerian parlance, ‘toasting’ is a synonym for audacious, absurd, mind numbing flattery. I love you more than my mother -who bore me. You are the most beautiful girl in the world -even though I haven’t seen more than a thousand. My life would be meaningless without you – despite God, my family, and my dreams plus barely knowing you. If only for this, never having to toast, I am grateful that I focused on friendship. Besides I was powerfully attracted to girls that enjoyed ‘critical thinking’ -not that I knew the phrase back then- as a hobby. I was quick to identify and analyse physical attraction but it could not generally command my lasting attention. In other words, a girl that demanded obvious flattery, was not a girl I wanted to be with. Compliments are something else entirely, of course. That’s different.
I could express contrary opinions freely and have stimulating debates with a girl I liked. I could also tease and playfully taunt relentlessly on occasion…alright. Every other time. And as time went on, whether we could or should be more than friends would be cleared up.
P Square’s More Than A Friend was my one-time anthem.
One thing seemed certain, friends have less motivation to conceal parts of their nature from their friends. Ask a girl out, and unconsciously or deliberately she might feel the need to hide a little. Maybe anger, rapid irritation, or a disturbing habit. The same thing applies for guys too. Whenever I and a friend became something else entirely, we knew ourselves inside out, and what we were was something magical, something strong, something resilient.
If we had issues we could not resolve, we’d fade fluidly back to friends again. No one would have to breakup with anyone. No one would feel bitterness at being dumped. We would both know ‘it’ wasn’t working. And often, later, we’d go beyond strict friendship again. Admittedly, this was emotionally demanding.
Till today, I think that one of the main benefits of my alternative method was that it almost never – if ever – produced hate and bitterness like a typical bad romance can create. I cannot recall a single girl I came to know this way that would explicitly refuse to talk to me or that I would not help if she requested it or that would not assist me if I had need to call on her. I cannot remember many that are no longer my friends.
I hoped to find the common or complimentary attributes and mutual understanding that I sought with a female friend someday, once and for all. This was my love theory inspired by Bollywood fantasies.
As you have read it, you might have seen weaknesses in this plan. Weaknesses that I did not really see for years. Weaknesses that could go on to cost me more than I bargained for. The Love Theory was to help me find love. But what if it found it for me, then killed it ?
In the next post, you’ll see what actually unfolded.