Saturday, April 09, 2011

Love the one you're with?

When authors talk about themes in romances, one that often comes up is: You can't choose who you love. Much of the conflict in a novel can come from the fact that the hero or heroine (or both) doesn't want to love the other, but they can't help it.

But sometimes the opposite is true. Just as we can't stop ourselves from falling in love with someone, I don't believe we can force love or attraction that we don't feel either.

When I was sixteen, I went on a date with a guy I worked with. He was nice and interesting, a couple years older than me--always exciting--and I was flattered that he'd ask me out. I hadn't been harboring a crush or anything, but, hey, you never know, right?

He only had a motorcycle, so for this double date, he surprised me by renting a Ford Taurus--complete with CD player!--to ferry the four of us around for the night. It was fun. We ate at a fancy Italian restaurant, and my aging mind forgets if we went to a movie or what.

But at the end of the night when he dropped me off, I didn't feel any differently than I had at the beginning. I enjoyed his company, but I wasn't interested in a romantic relationship.

The next time I went to work, I heard that he was upset because he spent all of that money and didn't even get a good night kiss. Dubious logic to be sure. It's not like I was a paid escort. And I hadn't expected a big-money evening.

We could have ridden in his friend's car. Or mine.

I'm sure he was trying to impress me, but the bottom line is that I couldn't force myself to be attracted to him. No matter what he did.

Have you ever experienced an attraction you didn't want? Or not been able to summon feelings for a person you thought you should want?


Gwen Hernandez said...

Just had to share that when I clicked Publish, I got an ad that said something like "say these words to make him like you". Hmmm... ;-)

M.V.Freeman said...

Interesting post, and I agree with it. When I was younger, I dated a few people and each time I liked them, but couldn't get beyound the fact I just enjoyed their company. I didn't want anything more. I thought something was wrong with me.

Then I met my husband and was surprised by my feelings. I didn't want to like him, let alone love him. But, before I knew it-I fell for him hook line and sinker.

I am still surprised by it, because I thought it only happened in Romance books--which is why I like to write it. You never know what Love will do. :)

Callie James said...

I've been in both scenarios. I married young and divorced young, and had about a decade of dating years until I met my husband (thank God he came along to save me from that).

What's interesting to me is how people coerce us to try to like people we don't or vice versa.

Here's an example. I took dance lessons every Saturday for a year (still can't dance--don't ask), and on one of those Saturdays, the instructor paired me up with a great looking guy. Problem was, he was rude. So later he asked me if I wanted a drink. I said no. He brought me one anyway. What? Then asked me to dance. I said no. And no, he didn't haul me out to the dance floor anyway. But two of my friends kept pressing me to dance with him as he sat next to me for an hour, then stared at me across a crowded dance floor for the following three (I think he was attracted to the rejection, to be honest. He was not without constant female company, so no "aawww's" please). One friend wanted me to dance with him because he looked good, never mind his ugly personality. The second because he brought me a drink I told him I didn't want (I didn't drink it, by the way). Seriously? I'm supposed to give up five minutes of my life because of a beer? Really?

Sometimes I think people get confused with what might be polite and ignore that internal voice that tells you to steer clear. Remember when you were forced to hug certain relatives that gave you the heebies? Same thing. I have a psychologist friend who insists it usually starts that early, when we're forced to ignore that internal voice that tells us who to trust and love.

Anyhow, short lesson on psychology. More than you wanted to know, I'm sure.

M.V.Freeman said...

I agree with your psychologist friend...I have to fight to remember that internal reaction.

One of the things I admire about you is that you know yourself, and that is priceless.

Lexi said...

I always had a different problem. I never seemed to like the ones who liked me! I date this guy once from another state. He was good looking, smart, had an awesome job, outdoorsy. Super nice guy. He liked me more than I liked him. Sigh.

Gwen Hernandez said...

Mary: I love your story. My husband surprised me too. Not because I didn't want to love him, just because I didn't expect it to be him. Now I can't imagine why not! ;-)

Gwen Hernandez said...

Great points, Callie. I remember when my kids were little I had to remind myself to let them trust their instincts and not force "loving behavior" on them.

I was better at teaching them to choose their friends with care and not to ever feel like they had to play with/hang out with someone that didn't treat them well. A lesson I wish I'd learned much earlier in life.

Gwen Hernandez said...

Lexi: That's exactly what happened with this guy. I so get it. In high school and college, the boys I liked didn't like me, and the ones who liked me didn't catch my attention at all.

I can relate to Callie's relief from being out of the dating scene. I'm hoping to steer clear of that for the rest of my life!

Carla Swafford said...

It's been so loooong ago I can barely remember, but there were a couple guys and vice-versa. It's sad but usually for the best they/we find out in the beginning instead of forcing it.

Then you get into stalking material.

Gwen Hernandez said...

Agreed, Carla. Better to find out early. =)

Allen said...

In answer to your question, yes. I'll have to elaborate in a novel. Thanks for the writing prompt!

Chris Bailey said...

Oh, and that wasn't Allen.

Gwen Hernandez said...

Great idea, Allen! I'd love to hear how it turns out.

Gwen Hernandez said...

Oops, ha ha, Chris. Guess I should read through them all before I start responding. ;-)