When I first meet someone, a new friend, partner, work colleague, whatever, I ponder ‘do I like them?’. I assess their characteristics: Are they a nice person? Do they make me laugh? Do I enjoy their company? Do we have things in common? And so on.
But when they have been part of my life for a while, like a few years or decades, I stop thinking about it. By then I assume I must just love them – love them enough to keep them in my life rather than just let them drift away.
So I’ve been thinking… If you’ve loved someone for years, or you are family, does love replace like? And is that OK? Whether that’s your partner, your sibling or your best friend, do you ever stop to think ‘do I still like them?’ or even perhaps, ‘do they still like me?’!
When we love someone do we take for granted the things that we once noticed as good characteristics? I think that just possibly, as time goes on, we are more prone to notice and acknowledge their faults and the things that niggle us. I’m pretty sure that if a made a tally chart of the times me and my husband comment on each others’ flaws, vs the times we point out each others brilliance, the flaws list would be just a touch longer. I doubt we’d need a recount to be sure.
This week me and my Unbalanced Man went on a date. Just us. It’s a rare thing. Usually the need to get a babysitter means we’ve been driven by a specific reason – an invitation to a party or night out with others. Very rarely do we make a conscious decision to spend sociable time out of the house with each other. Only each other.
And let’s be totally honest, on a normal night – mid week or weekend – when we reach that special time where it’s just the two of us, we don’t set the table, light a candle, pour a glass of wine and debate the deep and meaningful topics of life. Don’t be ridiculous. We plop a plate on a tray table (you know those ones with the bean bag thing underneath), choose something to watch on TV and act like we’re on Gogglebox.
Other than comments about our chosen TV programme, the sum our our conversation post kid bedtime is not much more than three questions and answers:
1. Q: How was your day?
2. Q: What shall we watch?
A: Whatever, you choose.
3. Q: Are you making a brew or what?
A: Sigh… Yep
So do we actually still like each-other? I know I love him, I know I appreciate lots of the things he does and I know that we’re a good partnership. But, that’s all a bit grown up and a bit practical.
Then…. date night. Suddenly I become acutely aware that our conversation will probably need to run past the usual 20 or so words (Yes, I did just count them).
I found myself getting giddy on the train into town, telling stories from my day and talking about plans for the weekend and I actually paused and thought, ‘slow down crazy girl, we’ve got all night to talk. Don’t say everything now or we might run out of things to say later.’
Is that bad? I was actually sort of nervous. I know that’s ridiculous, but in a weird way it was also exciting because it turns out that we did have plenty to talk about. And before you get suspicious, it wasn’t all about planning the practical stuff we need to do next week, or the typical parent cliche of talking about our kid all night. We just talked. Not about anything in particular, just about stuff. And that’s when I remembered how much I LIKE him. Truth be told, I’ve never even stopped liking him, I just forgot to think about it for a while. Perhaps that’s a good, comfortable, natural progression, or perhaps it’s a little sad.
We came out of the restaurant to find a bar with a live band playing and immediately knew that was what we both wanted to do. Because we have things in common! There it was. Just like being on a first date, I was assessing him all over again and I LIKED him. We find it easy to talk, to make each other laugh, to be nice to each-other.
Even better…… later, I got lucky!
We might even go on another date soon.