by Steven Forrest
Order the radically revised and expanded edition of the synastry classic: Skymates: Love, Sex and Evolutionary Astrology, Volume One.
When is the following declaration the saddest, bitterest thing you've ever heard? "I will always be your friend."
Sweet words, most of the time. Real friendship is precious. But most of us have felt that terrible sting--the word "friend" when it comes out of the mouth of someone with whom we are in love in a romantic, mating way. Being downgraded to "friend" means rejection. Something upon which we have staked a big piece of our lives is taken away. We know it and our lover knows it too.
True friendship is a rare and wonderful thing; I don't mean to belittle it. We share interests; we celebrate each other's victories and commiserate in failure and pain. We share values and assumptions. Unspoken understandings abound. Like good jazz players, we even interrupt each other at exactly the right, comfortable moments. You can feel that kind of friendship instantly. You meet someone at a party and there's an instantaneous sense of being on the same page. Everything a friend does is all right.
Compare that kind of easy-going friendship to the turbulence and emotional complexity of a sane, grown-up sexual relationship. They're not opposites, but they certainly feel different. We get to our teens and we know the distinction like we know the difference between kissing grandma and kissing in the back seat.
We don't want erotic contact with everyone we "like;" we usually don't desire our friends-and if those fires get kindled, we sense we're about to muddy the water in a serious way. On the other hand, when our lover says, "I will always be your friend," we know what's really being said: I don't want to sleep with you anymore. I don't want to gaze into your eyes. I want you close but not that close. Goodbye.