Love is not Loving

Rufus F.

Rufus is an American curmudgeon in Canada. He has a PhD in History, sings in a garage rock band, and does many things. He is the author of the forthcoming book "The Paris Bureau" from Dio Press (early 2021).

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40 Responses

  1. Glyph says:

    Prosit, l’chaim, and here’s mud in yer eye!

    Everyone should get to be in (reciprocated) love at least once.Report

  2. Chris says:

    Sounds a lot like love to me. It’s like I was saying (or rather, stealing from Levinas) elsewhere, if you think of love as an opening up of yourself — to life, to a person, to whatever the object of your love is — then sitting around until 4 in the morning (but that’s Canadian time, right? What’s that in real time? 😉 ) talking is pretty much a perfect manifestation.

    Sorry you had to go through what you did. Glad you’ve come out the other end better for it, though.Report

    • Rufus F. in reply to Chris says:

      It was definitely rough, although I did survive and learned a lot from it. I also have more sympathy for my ex-wife now going through an experience that feels a bit like stepping into the path of an oncoming Italiana.Report

  3. NewDealer says:

    I concur with these and it goes into a lot of the stuff as expressed in my agony and ecstasy of long distance relationship pieces.

    My girlfriend and I are working on these issues a lot and we have both built up pretty solid lives in two very different parts of the country and need to figure things out.Report

  4. Will Truman says:

    So, is this thing Monella and I are experiencing love, or lust, or infatuation? I ask myself this daily and I keep coming back to the same answer: who gives a damn?

    I don’t know what it says about me that I am utterly incapable of coming to that answer.Report

    • NewDealer in reply to Will Truman says:

      I’m the same way as you I think.

      Then again the expression Mr or Ms. Right Now has never worked for me.

      I am sort of marvel in some of my more bro-dudish friends who can seemingly do the whole bar and hook-up scene without a care. One friend from school moved back home because of perma-temp status and to pay down credit card debt/save money. He can still totally go into the city, hook up with a random woman and go home with her. I think I would feel a deep sense of shame to even date if I lived at home.

      Call me old-fashioned but I think I need to be supporting myself financially to date and this includes paying rent.

      There is a part of me which wishes I just had a little bit of the bro-dude in me for confidence boosts.Report

      • Rufus F. in reply to NewDealer says:

        Oh, no, it’s definitely different from that. If anything, we’re like two very close friends who care a great deal about the well-being of one another. I don’t mean “who gives a damn?” in the sense of not caring about her feelings or mine. What I mean is it’s very easy to be fixated on the future and the expectations one has for the other to the point of not enjoying the present moment. But, there’s a point where what you really need to know is just that the person makes you happy and you make them happy.Report

      • Will Truman in reply to NewDealer says:

        The hook-up thing (which I understand this is not) I can actually understand. It’s precisely what you (@rufus) are talking about where I find myself at a loss.

        It’s not going to say that I’ve ever had a romantic relationship that I knew (or suspected pretty strongly) wasn’t going anywhere, but I really have an intense need to try to sort it all out. To be able to place it in the love, lust, or something else category.

        I typically gravitate towards an up or down as quickly as I can (an “up” not being marriage, but an affirmative desire to keep going). If it’s not up, then it’s down, and everything collapses in pretty short order.

        In your shoes, I would be freaking out.Report

      • zic in reply to NewDealer says:


        You know, hook-up culture would be a good topic for this symposium.

        I don’t think that I understand it; though I see my younger sprout engaging in it, too, and came of age when free love (and free sex) were pretty accepted and lived in a hippie-infested community.Report

      • Rufus F. in reply to NewDealer says:

        I think I’m not freaking out mainly because I got so much of that during the marriage. For my ex in particular, everything became an issue of “what does this say about your feelings towards me?” It gets draining and having realized that these things can also end fairly unexpectedly, I think I’m much more accepting of joy without knowing. I keep thinking of this song lately:

      • Will Truman in reply to NewDealer says:

        A couple stories… one of which hooks in to hook-up culture which @zic asks about but for which (as this story will demonstrate) I’m a pretty poor spokesperson for. That’ll be the second one.

        Story #1: Playing Oblivious

        The first one involves the closest to a romantic relationship I had for someone that I cared for. She was a wonderful girl. She was pretty and kind. I just found myself at an emotional loss and almost a bit of dread when it came to partnering up with her. Which she pretty plainly wanted. Since it’s typically guys who ask the girls out and she was cut from more traditionalist cloth, I was given the ability to kind of dodge and weave and play oblivious. I kind of left her to believe that I was completely oblivious to her interest while my mind was working 100 miles a minute trying to sort out the inherent contradiction of this lovely girl I was so fond of but indifferent towards entering a relationship with. The more I liked her, the higher the threshold of certainty that was required to go a step further. We both ended up moving to Deseret and I attended her wedding (to a nicer and better looking guy than myself).

        Story #2: Hooking Up?

        I’ve never hooked up, formally speaking. Every case of someone I had sex with involved either a relationship or the dangling hope/plan for one on one side or the other. The same actually applies to less-than-sex, though I have a near-miss there. I was, it turned out, just incapable.

        I met a girl at an anime convention who wasn’t very interested in anime and was mostly there because of some friends that went. Anyhow, we got to talking at the hotel bar and kind of hit it off. Things progressed from there to some making out. If I’d had a hotel room, I am relatively certain she would have been interested in that, too.

        Long story short, when I woke up the next day I realized that I had lost her number. And I couldn’t remember her name. It took a lot of investigation to track her down and when I did… she was horrified. She had a boyfriend. She wasn’t looking for a relationship at all. She was looking for some guy to periodically have a good time with, or something like that. The boyfriend thing, which she had definitely not mentioned, was a problem for me. I think she had never intended for me to get close enough to find out. (I wish I could say that I knew less about the mechanics of “the boyfriend I didn’t tell you about” than I do.)

        I will confess, a part of me is flattered to have been viewed in this context. I sort of figure that the hook-up culture is mostly for people who don’t have to worry about getting an actual relationship when they want one. Those attractive enough for it to not be an issue, I mean. Which isn’t me. Knowing myself as I do, I suspect this is a good thing as for all of the previously mentioned reasons, it would be something I’d be terribly ill-suited for. I’m the kind of guy who goes through convention attendance rolls looking for somebody whose name I can’t quite remember.Report

      • zic in reply to NewDealer says:

        @will-truman Thank you.

        I think I’m wondering of the degrees of friendship in hook-up culture. Most of the girls I see my younger hook up with (awkward grammar there) are friends; he’s known them for years, and they encourage one-another on in their other relationships.

        I had this, a friend, we enjoyed being together tremendously, but knew there was no long-lasting hope, and we put no bonds or bounds on one another. When I met my husband, he was one of the first people I told; and he met his wife at just about the same time. It would not surprise me if it was the same day. And we’ve both been happily married since. I’ve spoken to him once in the last 30 years — when his mother died.

        And if my world fell apart tomorrow; I would not hesitate to call and ask for help. Nor would I be surprised to receive such a call. My husband and I would be there, he and his wife would be there.

        That’s a profound comfort. And I wonder if it’s a part of hook-up culture, or if what we’re really talking about is one-night (or weekend or whatever) stands; no intent for anything but shits and giggles.Report

      • Maribou in reply to NewDealer says:

        @zic from what I see-at-a-distance with my workplace’s students, both of these things (and a bunch of more-in-the-middle things) get lumped in together under “hook up culture”. (I have also experienced both ends, and the middle, of that spectrum, and yet don’t think they’re the same at all.)Report

    • NewDealer in reply to Will Truman says:


      The evidence seems to show that the amount of hook-up culture that exists is greatly exaggerated.

      The evidence also suggests that reports about rampant hook-up culture make people feel bad for not being part of it even though the reports wildly overestimate the amount of hooking-up that actually happens in a concern troll-moralistic kind of way.

      Ah the wonderful paradoxes of psychology.Report

      • zic in reply to NewDealer says:

        So in other words, it’s just the way young people have ever gotten together, in it’s various shades, but they’re less sneaky and perhaps more responsible about it.


      • NewDealer in reply to NewDealer says:


        I think I was more saying that the amount of random sex happening among young people is greatly exaggerated.

        I went to college from 1998-2002. During my senior year of high school, SPIN magazine published an article about all the wild and crazy sex and hooking-up that was happening on my campus. Basically it made it seem like everyone was going to the on-campus dance club every night in the Student Union building and going home with a different party.

        That was not so much the case. Now I have seen people do the so-called “Walk of Shame”* and there might have been a subset of people who went and hooked-up many nights of the week but a lot of other people just had normal boyfriends and/or girlfriend relationships. Though I was kind of out of it in college and probably missed a lot of hook up stuff.

        *I am not a fan of the term but that was what we called it when you woke up in a hook-up’s room at 7 in the morning and needed to walk back to your dorm in party clothes. Since I was and still am an early riser/morning person, I got to see a lot of people do the walk of shame.Report

      • Will Truman in reply to NewDealer says:

        I truly believe that the media (entertainment especially, but also news) has had a deleterious effect on our national mental health by providing unrealistic and warped perceptions by what constitutes typical sexual behavior and what healthy sexual expectations are.Report

      • Maribou in reply to NewDealer says:

        @will-truman And they do it in both directions at once. Whatever amount of sex you are having IS THE WRONG AMOUNT; whatever you like IS THE WRONG THING TO LIKE, is the overall implication.Report

      • Will Truman in reply to NewDealer says:

        If you’re not like having sex all the time, you’re kind of a loser. If you’re having a lot of sex, people have a sort of right to expect to have sex with you.Report

      • zic in reply to NewDealer says:

        @maribou wins the thread.

        /loud applauseReport

      • zic in reply to NewDealer says:

        @rufus-f you’re obviously in that sweet spot of just the right amount. The Goldilocks spot, sitting right on the axis between positive and negative of the Too much/Too little graph. It’s a dirty, thankless job, but somebody’s got to do it.Report

      • Glyph in reply to NewDealer says:

        @will-truman @maribou – So it’s like driving then.

        Anybody who drives slower than you is an idiot.

        Anybody who drives faster is a maniac.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to NewDealer says:

        I am shocked, shocked that Tom Wolfe is making stuff up. (He’s the guy who wrote about a character that wanted to move his family from arid El Cerrito to green, leafy Danville. For all that he claims to be the one writer who cares about realism, he can’t read either a weather report or a map.)Report

  5. Jaybird says:

    So, is this thing Monella and I are experiencing love, or lust, or infatuation? I ask myself this daily and I keep coming back to the same answer: who gives a damn?

    Dude. This is how nature makes you have babies.Report

  6. zic says:

    So, is this thing Monella and I are experiencing love, or lust, or infatuation? I ask myself this daily and I keep coming back to the same answer: who gives a damn?

    It’s a progression. Different chords and different harmonies and different beats, all, can get you to a love song, too.Report

  7. Chris says:

    For reasons that are entirely related to my own past, this post is making me wonder why no one’s written about unrequited love in this symposium.

    The reason it makes me wonder is specifically because of the talking until the wee hours. The first woman I ever really loved was a woman I went to college with. We’ll call her Bobbie (because that was her name, and where she’s from, there are 2 bazillion Bobbies). One summer, while we were both home from school, she in Minnesooooota and I in Tennessee, we talked on the phone almost every night until I could hear the birds singing, which meant it was getting light out and my parents would be up soon (and asking me what the hell I was doing on the phone at that hour). I was pretty much head over heals for her: she was gorgeous, she was smart as a whip, she was funny and she laughed at my jokes. She, on the other hand, had a crush on another guy, a guy I really disliked (even more so when I found out that she had a crush on him). She talked about him a lot in our conversations, and each time she did it was like someone was sticking a white-hot poker in my gut. I could not, for the life of me, figure out why she had a crush on some dude (they actually had a sort of on-again-off-again thing), but was talking to me for 7 hours at a time.

    Then I went back to school, and so did she, and I met another woman, whom we’ll call Deb (because that was her name), and whom I liked, but definitely didn’t love (she was fun, but not much else), and we started dating. Out of equal parts self-defense and loyalty to the one I was with, I pretty much stopped talking to Bobbie altogether. A few months later things between Deb and I had petered out, when I ran into Bobbie at a show (at the venue where I’d first met her, at a show). We started talking, and she told me that she’d fallen in love with me over the summer and had been really hurt when I started dating someone else. At first I was really excited, but then I could tell both by the way I was feeling and by the way she was talking that whatever window of opportunity there had been for us in the summer was gone.

    I suppose the lesson of this story is either than young people are stupid or that my communication skills are awful, or perhaps that love is a fickle thing that, if it is not caught early and nurtured often, withers away, or maybe there’s no lesson at all.Report

  8. zic says:

    @chris I wrote about unrequitted love in a comment on North’s post, which was a comment rescue.

    Unrequitted Love, that lonely goddess, wears many dresses. She’s fickle some days and faithful beyond understanding on others. Her mystery is the path not taken, the opportunity not seized, the bond never connected.

    Mine wore the dress of childhood, endured for years, and ended with some wisdom.

    Yours sounds a whole lot more fun.Report