Why can't we be friends after loving?

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Susan Deitz

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DEAR SUSAN: I have experiences converting romantic love to friendship and keeping relationships that are intimate but sexless. A lover-turned-friend relationship proves that the love between the two of you is so deep that it doesn't end when the sexual side doesn't work out. Keeping those relationships in your life lessens the pain if a romance sours. They teach you to be as accepting of your lover's flaws as your lover is of yours. From the Single File blogDEAR BLOGGER: You are so right. Friendship is the gold standard of single life. Your voice of experience rings true when it comes to keeping former lovers and adding new people to your constellation of friends. The gift of friendship is a precious thing, to be appreciated and nurtured in whatever form it takes; when two lovers also are best friends, it seems absurd to discard those bonds simply because the sexual side of the relationship ends. So it makes great good sense to spread your warmth over a wide social constellation, to include as many people of goodwill (any age, race, gender) as your life can hold. Of course, it takes the two of you to agree on the new status, which means you must agree to migrate to another intensity level -- certainly not for every past lover. When it works, it's dynamite.

DEAR SUSAN: I wouldn't want to date anyone who has or had plural lovers simultaneously; the situation only invites turmoil. And I cannot fathom anyone in that situation being able to commit to one person. I do agree that one doesn't need to be in love to find pleasure and enjoyment in sex, but you should only be with one person at a time. There is value in sex, and when that is lost, the couple has no bond.

From the Single File blog

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DEAR BLOGGER: Aye, there's the rub -- that pesky bonding phenomenon that keeps on surfacing and demanding recognition! You and I, reader (and most of the world), value the emotional connection forged between lovers too highly to consign it to the trash heap of plural lovers and temporary commitment. For us, sexual joining connects us with something higher than flesh or pleasurable pangs; it has the potential to be spiritual communion, a depth of feeling that can be achieved rarely, possibly once (or twice) in a lifetime. We can't place ourselves in a situation of casual sex, entered into by two people without emotional connection. As an ally and friend of the unmarried, I have a good idea of the consequences of so-called casual sexual encounters. The carnage wrought by that cheap stuff is long-lasting and horrific. Your instincts serve you well.

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