“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said,
in a rather scornful tone, “it means just
what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”
—Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Relationships with men involve a complex assortment of possibilities. As a little girl, you start out with boys as playmates and friends; and if you are lucky, you continue to have men as playmates and friends all your life. Toward adolescence, you acquire boyfriends who are something other than friends who happen to be boys. Your grandmother called them beaux. From among these boyfriends, you eventually come to have a steady boyfriend (as opposed to the unsteady kind). A steady may turn into someone who wants to marry you, and if you agree, you get a fiancé and then a husband.
Think of your romantic attachments with men. Is there any room in this progression for a lover or for lovers? What has the word “lover” come to mean to you? Love means many things to many people—being a lover does as well. For purposes of our discussion, I want to offer a succinct definition of the word lover. A lover is a person of the opposite sex with whom one has an intense relationship, based on romantic affection or sexuality or both, which has no purpose other than the expression of that romantic affection and/or sexuality. A lover is like a friend, except that friendship is usually less intense and is usually asexual. A lover is like a husband, except that the husband-wife relationship has many purposes other than the fostering and expression of love and lovemaking.
Next week: Friends and Lovers