If we’ve talked much in the last year or so, I’ve probably gushed about my favorite musical (which I have, on at least one occasion, also called my favorite anything), The Last Five Years. It’s the story of a couple’s doomed relationship, how they meet, fall in love, and fall out of love over the course of five years. It’s sad and funny and beautiful and if you haven’t seen it, you should. Anyway, I was watching a scene and crying (as I am wont to do) and this song, which I’ve never really paid much attention to struck me tonight. The song, Nobody Needs to Know¹, is sung by the husband, Jamie, and is basically his excuse for cheating on his wife. That’s the story I always heard and I was disgusted by his selfishness, but tonight, hearing the song again, I saw some of myself in it.
All right – the panic recedes
All right – everyone bleeds
All right – I get what I need
And nobody needs to know
Jamie is able to overlook his own infidelity because he sees it as a necessity. His needs aren’t be met by the woman he married and so he thinks it’s OK to go outside those bonds and find fulfillment elsewhere. I sometimes find myself thinking of my desire for romantic partnership as a need. Whether it’s a result of cultural influence or just my own selfishness, I’m not sure, but I think it’s pretty clear that no one needs to be in a romantic relationship. No matter how much expectation is placed on us, no matter how lonely it sometimes gets, no matter how much it seems like we’re the only ones who are alone, there are other ways to satisfy our desires for companionship. The song then finishes with these lines
And since I have to be in love with someone
Since I need to be in love with someone
Maybe I could be in love with someone
Like Jamie, I often think I have to be in love with someone. Not that I go out looking for it (it finds me just fine on it’s own), but when one of these crushes comes along, I find it so hard to avoid imagining a life together. The desire is so strong it begins to look very much like a need.
I recently had a difficult, but important conversation with a friend in which I confessed my most recent dude crush. I knew that any chance of a relationship with this guy was improbable and impractical, no least because I’m still very conflicted regarding same sex relationships, but, as they say, the heart wants what the heart wants. Anyway, I called my friend to ask for her help in talking me out of it and she did her job well, maybe a bit too well. By the end of our conversation, I was thoroughly versed in all the ways this crush was ridiculous and the thought of anything coming of it was gone, but even more than that, I was beginning to resign myself to lifelong singleness.²
I’ve tried very hard to keep hope alive since my desire for a genuine connection/relationship/partnership is extremely strong, but maintaining that hope in the face of so much disappointment is extremely hard at times. In those times, I think it may be better to stop imagining the typical life of two people together. As has been suggested by Wesley Hill and many others, it might be time to think about life in community rather than couplehood. I’ve definitely considered this approach before, but one of the reasons I’ve always been hesitant to pursue this as my sole source of relational fulfillment is that it seems like so much work to try and maintain multiple friendships and make sure that I’m spending adequate time with each of them. I’m already in that situation, but it always seemed so much easier to have one primary person to maintain a relationship with and have the others on the periphery. Of course, we were never told the Christian life would be easy. So, I guess that’s where I’m at currently and once gain, I’m ending a post without a real conclusion or wrap up or anything so…yeah…
¹ I really like the name of this song and how dramatic it seemed to use it as the title for this post despite the fact that it doesn’t really accurately reflect the content. Deal with it : )
² It should be noted that the conversation also had several uplifting and hopeful moments and my friend did a good job of being supportive despite the fact that I kind of make her out to be the bad guy here.