How to Pick a Lover

Posts tagged ‘companionship’

The Captive Wife

Age has left me lonely, as lonely as a wife.
—Jadah Vaughn

As often happens in marriages, the presence of a spouse may take away the joys of solitude without replacing them with the joys of companionship. When this happens, both the husband and wife may be distressed and lonely. The husband, however, usually has more resources to cope with the situation. Men in general tend to have more freedom of movement and more control of their time. If a married man is lonely, he can easily go out by himself or out with the boys, and he is not judged harshly for having done so or for having enjoyed himself. Whereas, if a married women is lonely, she cannot as readily take herself out to find companionship even if she has a car and an independent spirit, even if she can find a babysitter, and even if she can afford one.

A single woman who is on her own and who feels at loose ends can call a friend. She can go to a movie or go shopping or take a trip or any of a variety of other plans. A married woman who is on her own, and who feels at loose ends, anticipates that her husband, as part of his commitment to the marital relationship, will provide her with the companionship she desires. However, she often finds that she waits and waits. She waits for him to come home, she waits for him to get ready to go to bed, and in the morning she waits for him to get up and out of the shower. Her time is often organized around the possibility of his making time for her, and she soon gets very tired of waiting. And when she does, she will seek companionship elsewhere: perhaps from her friends or her family or, perhaps, from a lover.

English: Logo for the US television show Despe...

Photo credit: Wikipedia

When you listen to the complaints of wives, they often say, “He never takes me anywhere.” An obvious query in response to this is, “Well, why don’t you ever take yourself anywhere?” Often, however, she does not really have that option.

As the  journalist Lawrence Jaqua asks, “Why is it that in public, a woman without a man looks forlorn, but a man without a woman looks romantic?” Most people view women out on their own differently from men out on their own, especially in small or conservative communities. Women are certainly viewed differently anywhere if they are out on their own late at night. Often, when a woman does go out alone, she receives so much of the wrong kind of attention that the spotlight interferes with her enjoyment. A wife can go by herself to the supermarket on a Saturday afternoon, but if she goes to a sports bar by herself on Saturday afternoon or to a cocktail lounge by herself on Saturday night, she is conspicuous and seems to be making a come-on statement by her very presence. If a woman goes out, she is supposed to be escorted. If a wife goes out, her escort is supposed to be her husband. If he is seldom available, she will indeed be lonely—lonely and housebound.

Such a woman needs a lover.

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Being Single Can Be Lonely

The couples wander two by two,
A giant Noah’s ark, a zoo,
Not one by one or three by four
But two by two, no less, no more.
—Jadah Vaughn, “Cagemates”

The Western world is organized socially around the premise of a husband-wife pair. Traditionally, almost all activities that are done in the evening or on weekends are programmed to be done by a two-person, man-woman team. This arbitrary organization is not typical of all societies and, indeed, is not typical of our own for adolescents or for the elderly. In the adult years, however, the fact that most people are part of a couple is readily translated into the idea that most people should be. While this viewpoint has been changing slowly over the past several decades, it still influences the behavior of many adults.

The need for companionship may be somewhat more important for women than for men in that their activities are more constrained by social norms, which make some things more comfortable when done with a male escort. A man, being free to take the initiative, is less constrained and can often hustle up someone at the last minute to do things with. A woman can as well; but more often than not, it is more difficult, especially when it comes to activities that take place in the evening or extend late into the night.

One Is a Lonely Number

One Is a Lonely Number (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you want to go to the movies, you can always go by yourself and hold your own hand. Or you can go with a friend, and he or she may share your popcorn, but they do not hold your hand and they do not engender in you feelings of romance. Wanting a romantic evening of dinner and a movie may sound like a trivial goal, but in some instances, it may be quite a legitimate motive for taking a lover or even for getting married.

Hostesses have been taught that a proper dinner table should be balanced, meaning that there should be an equal number of men and women. Canadian author Merle Shain observed, “Being single can feel like playing musical chairs, and every time they stop the music, you’re the one who’s out.” Unmarried adults are often left out of social activities not so much from a sense of disapproval as from a residual concern that there will be an unbalanced sex ratio.

Having a lover gives a woman access to a companion who is on tap, so to speak, and who can readily be conscripted to take part in a number of activities such as weddings and bar mitzvahs, in addition to making love. Access to an escort is a problem which a wife does not have to face. Alas, thinking that all your married friends have it made is much the same kind of error of generalization that married women make in thinking that all their single friends have it made. Just remember that the greener grass you yearn for on the other side of the fence may be nothing more than artificial turf.

The Loneliness Factor: The Value of Sharing

A great many mistakes are made in the name of loneliness.
—John Patrick, Love Is a Many Splendor Thing

There are many pleasures in solitude and many activities and pursuits that one can and does enjoy doing alone. However, we are fundamentally social creatures brought up in a social world where companionship and communication are held to be of prime importance. Paradoxically, however, to derive full value from joy, we must have someone to divide it with.

Love Steals Us from Loneliness

Love Steals Us from Loneliness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is pleasant to watch a sunset, but it is more pleasant to watch it with a friend. The same may apply to watching movies or television or the waves at the beach. It is always satisfying to partake of a well-prepared meal, but it is more satisfying to break bread with someone. This is not to say that we necessarily want constant companionship, but only that most of us who are not hermits want some. Companionship may be available from friends, but since the intensity of our involvement with them is less than that of our involvement with lovers, the presence of a lover may be more important—which is why we often feel forsaken when a close friend embarks on a new love relationship.

Sometimes, a woman takes a lover to relieve her loneliness and finds the solace of companionship to be more important than the physical aspects of making love. If you are really in love, you can say, with the Pulitzer Prizewinning author and poet Conrad Aiken: “Music I heard with you was more than music, and the bread I broke with you was more than bread.”

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