My friend Beth is moving. This is absolutely a good thing for her and her family. However, her move sparked a conversation between friends at a midweek hangout session, which in turn sparked a sociological thought in me about dating, relationships and love.
Beth has a young son, E, who our friend is very close to. As everyone said their goodbyes, E asked his surrogate aunt, “Will you miss me?”
My friend responded, tears in her eyes, “Oh my gosh, yes! I’ll miss you every single day.”
And I couldn’t help but think that this was, frankly, a lie. Yes, my friend will miss E. But every single day? Will it be all day? One moment daily? Forever and ever? Or, will it be what we expect from this sort of missing: it will not become the fabric of her life, but rather quietly diminish until there is not missing or longing. What is it that resides when the missing is gone? Perhaps contentment ?
Adults make promises like this to kids all the time, and I am beginning to wonder if this isn’t the basis of lies we tell our lovers. Cynical? Sure. But it feels more than just a tad true.
Remember that heartbreaking scene in The Lion King when adult Simba yells at the stars, “You said you’d always be there for me…but you’re not.” Simba is hurt to the core of his being because his father, Mufasa, told him as a cub that he’d always protect him, be with him, guide him. Mufasa made a promise he, as an adult, knew he could not keep. Simba, being a child, believed him – and got a face full of reality when (spoiler alert) Mufasa is murdered.
When we are in love someone, we make the same sorts of vows. “I’ll love you forever,” or “I’ll be here when you’re ready.” They’re words of comfort, words to lull a partner into feeling secure, trusting and loved. But once again, we’re looking at a deceit (that naturally, we don’t want to see). However, unless broken promises were given to you as a child, your adult nature may believe these sentiments whole-heartedly.
Scorned lovers and bewildered children are alike in many ways: obsessed with the question, “why?” They blame another for where they are at. They act out of fear. (Those fear based actions are the worst).
Maybe none of this has to do with childhood and maturation but instead is about trust. As I type this, I realize I sound wildly skeptic and untrusting. But the truth is, when I hear promises and words without ways out, I believe them – and if I were to say them, I’d mean them. And yes, like everyone, those words have hurt me in the past.
So how do we as people reconcile what we feel in a moment to be true and what will turn out to be true in the future? Do we live in the moment? Live in the later? Is the issue the fact that we don’t actually know ourselves and thus can’t speak clearly to the future? And as recipients, are we to believe wholeheartedly and openly? Or is our best bet to bring a healthy dose of skepticism in?