Thursday, October 4, 2007

asymetrical relationships

A saw a minor celebrity at the gym today. I've seen him there before. He's the lead on a show on FX. I've never spoken with him. And yet every time I see him I have the initial sense of catching unexpected sight of a friend and then I stop myself. "Oh, that's right, we're not friends. He doesn't know me."

I watched an episode of Weeds last night, in which the lead character secretly follows a woman around town. Their lives are connected through a third character but they've never met. At the end of the episode they do meet and we realize that the second woman had already noticed the woman following her. The second woman acuses the first of stalking her. I have a friend who had suffered for years with a mysterious stalker who only recently finally left him alone. When I was in high school I had a devastatingly obsessive and completely secret crush on one of my teachers. He was just out of college himself so we became friends, but our friendly interactions were always very different from my side than from his.

When relationships are dramtically asymetrical it can set up very sensitive and sometimes awkward situations, very good for dramatic treatment. But it occurs to me that every relationship we have must be asymetrical to some degree. We come to every relationship with a host of past life experiences, and different goals, and emotional attachments, and prejudices and needs, that could never fully match those of the other person. As Harvey Fierstein wrote in Torch Song Trilogy, "In every relationship there's one person who loves more. It might as well be me." Instead of seeking relationship parity we should seek to be our best self and bring that person to the other, wherever they are.

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