Is It Love Or Is It Just Gratitude?

Posted by K on November 16, 1998 at 09:24:41:

I think I may be in love. In love, that is, with a man who is not my husband. Why I am thinking this rather than knowing this is because I am not all that sure myself. One minute it's "Yeah, I love this man." The next it's "Don't be so stupid. He's just a friend."

This man is someone I met online. We met on a board about the same television show we both like. We started talking to each other via e-mail, growing closer as friends. He told me things about him that not many people know about, and I did the same in return. Sharing that information just strengthened the bond of friendship between us. Then I went to him for advice on the same idiotic recurring problem happening in my marriage.

I have been married for nearly eight years. My husband, when I first met him and during the early years of our marriage was a kind man and treated me as a partner in the truest sense of the word. Now he'd rather spend most of his time with his friends. He will go out and make major decisions without telling me about it first, but he will tell his friends. It's always his friends first. He doesn't listen to me. He doesn't help out. I feel like a second class citizen sometimes. This problem has been going on for a few years now. I'm growing tired of having to be the one to complain about this over and over again. I'm tired of the fights about this. I'm tired of the empty promises of change from my husband. It's to the point now where I'm considering getting a divorce from him. I want a life, too. But I'm afraid of hurting my child.

My friend, on the other hand, fufills this need I have to be heard and taken seriously. He doesn't tell me the things I want to hear. He tells me what I need to hear, whether I like it or not. His concern for me is touching. I've never had a man be so concerned for me before. Not my husband. Not even my father.

I think about my friend constantly. When I'm washing dishes, when I'm surfing the 'Net, when I'm sleeping, when I'm at work. I think about what it would be like to actually feel his arms around me in a real embrace rather than in a cyberhug exchanged through telephone lines and Internet Service Providers. I wonder what it would be like if he kissed me, stroked my hair, held me close to him after we made love. I wonder what it would be like to spend my life with him. That's the romantic in me.

Then the realist speaks up and says "You are confusing love with gratitude here. Don't. You have someone who listens and is a great friend and does things for you without you even mentioning it." But if this is gratitude, then why do I feel so happy when I check my inbox and a message pops up with his name on it? Is it gratitude when I don't hear from him and I wonder if he is just too busy with work to have the time to write or if something happened to him and I start to worry? Is it gratitude when I think of how I would just throw everything away, if I could, to be with him?

I'm thinking of saving my money and going to meet him. My husband doesn't like to do what I like to do anyway. I once asked my husband if he would come along if I went away and met all the people I met from this board. He said no. I could go alone if I wanted. Not even me trying to convince him that I wanted to share this part of what I do with my time or the promise of a weekend away by ourselves would convince him to change his mind. It wouldn't be too hard to get away, I suppose.

I had a dream about my friend the other night. In this dream, I got a phone call from him saying that he had something to tell me, but because it was so important, he was going to tell me in person. I was to drive to Milwaukee (three hours away from where I live) and meet him in a parking lot a few days from now. On that day, I woke up early and drove down to Milwaukee, found the meeting spot and waited. Nobody else came into this parking lot. After waiting nervously, I saw a car pull in, then pull up next to mine. It was my friend. He got out of his car, and I got out of mine. For a few moments, he just looked at me. Then he said, "I love you." I felt tears of happiness springing into my eyes, and then I replied, "I love you, too." He came closer to me, put his arms around me, and then we kissed. The next thing I remember is that we started making plans for the future. He was going to move to Milwaukee, I was going to move to Milwaukee, get a divorce, and we were going to spend the rest of our lives together.

In reality, this will probably never happen. First, neither of us are in the position to just throw everything away. Any divorce would be messy and my child would look upon my friend as The Man Who Took Mommy Away. I would feel too guilty of putting this man through all of my problems. But the romantic in me sometimes says, "Screw that."

Am I really in love? Is this just me confusing one powerful emotion with another? I wish I knew.

[ Dog-O-Matic essay board ]