They say Friendship and Love have the same quality: they are both feelings, not emotions. They last in time. They are stable. They involve a close spiritual or emotional intimacy. But there is also a difference in quality between these two. In Love there is a different kind of attraction and there is a sexual interest.
We often hear from old long-lasting couples that they both achieved something somehow unexpected: they also became best friends. It’s surprising because there is a term often used by young people: the friendzone. People noticed that, in order to be in a couple with someone, they must never become friends, as some sort of warning that, if you become friends, the lust and the attraction is gone. So people avoid friendship if they have an erotic interest. But the very same friendzone is actively searched for, if the couple is to last.
Often, romantic love involves playing with the imagination of the other one. People pretend to be something they are not, so as to attract the future partner. They show off. They’re trying to impress. They dress differently, they go to the gym, they add make-up. They eventually create a new persona, a desirable persona. From one perspective, they lose their authenticity; they became more or less fake. Sometimes, they change so much that they keep few similarities with the person they used to be before.
Eventually, the couple is formed. If it’s functional, the two partners may even get married. They believe each in their dreams, respectively. They are, more or less, two personas in love. And the game goes on until one day. The day when one of them, for a variety of reasons, gets tired of pretending. The persona collapses and the true person is revealed.
The other partner now has a problem: there is a new, never-to-be-seen-before partner in their life. They fell in love with the others’ persona, with a totally different individual, and now they must face a decision: are they willing to continue their life together with this new individual or give up the relationship?
If the partners developed friendship in the meantime, the shock is not going to be great, as the two gradually discover each other’s real identity. But if they were blinded by the love for the personas, the couple is in danger.
Lasting couples remain together for a huge variety of reasons. For fear of future. For lack of money. For prestige and what the others might think about themselves. In the name of the illusion of themselves that they try to maintain… But there are some rare couples that remain together because they have learned to accept each other despite the ruined illusions: the authentic couples. The good old friends.
Authenticity does not mean total sincerity. Authentic does not mean that I can tell everything to my partner, because some inner aspects might hurt them. Authentic means being the same inside and outside, while filtering the shared information through one’s own personality.
There are couples who can dream the same illusion together, but they do not dream illusions about each other. They are rare. They are never to be seen in a psy office, as they regulate their emotional life easily and by themselves. The majority I see are cheaters. They try to maintain their persona and they can’t. And their partners try to re-intoxicate themselves with the old image they once fell in love with. Unfortunately, time alters everything. And for couples without too much imagination, the decay of the constructed image means also damage and destruction of the carefully-crafted illusion. Transcendence is necessary. Falling in love with the soul of the other one is essential. For the rest who can’t develop love, cosmetic surgery or younger partner shopping often remain easy solutions.