DEAR ABBY: You printed a letter from "K," a woman who has been dating a wonderful man for 18 months. She loves him with all her heart, but thought she would rather be his friend than permanent partner. You advised her to break things off, so that both of them may be free to find "true love."
Abby, that helps perpetuate one of the saddest lies of human existence. "Chemistry" and "magic" -- as you call them -- have almost nothing to do with love. Passion and lust, as such, are illusions that hold empty promises and fade quickly. Why do you think there are so many more failed and broken relationships than happy, lifelong ones? Because people believe these lies are indicators of love, and search again and again for them when they fail to fulfill.
Love is eternal and ever-present. Love is also more closely related to friendship than passion. If you polled successful marriages, you would find that the most committed partners claim they were best friends first. Passion is certainly exciting and part of the shared experience between partners, but true intimacy grows from trust and friendship -- not from the fear that lustful illusions bring.
At one time, my wife was like "K." It took seven long years for my patient love to find its way into her heart, but we've been happily and passionately married ever since! True love never walks away from another. I hope "K's" boyfriend hangs in there and shows her what love is really all about. -- BRUCE CULP, VERO BEACH, FLA.
DEAR BRUCE: Although much of what you say about love is true, it's my observation that when a woman says she "would rather be friends," it means that sexual attraction is missing. Please read on:
DEAR ABBY: This is my first letter to you, but because the topic is so important, I felt I must share my thoughts.
I am writing in response to the young woman who has been seeing a man for 18 months, but wants to be only friends with him. While she says she "loves" him, she clearly is not "in love" with him. You were so right to advise her to be honest with the man. I hope she takes what you said to heart and doesn't fall into the trap that I did.
Twenty years ago, I had been seeing the ideal man. We had so much in common. After a few months of dating, I told him I liked him very much, but didn't feel that I was in love with him. He was devastated, and I was racked with guilt. I doubted my own judgment and wondered how I could throw away the "perfect" mate. The result was that I "learned" to love him and we married.
Abby, after 17 years of a very difficult marriage, I am finally on my own -- regretting that I ever gave in to guilt. Please tell your readers, as the saying goes, "In matters of the heart, follow your heart ..." not your need to take care of others. The price is too high. -- LEARNED THE HARD WAY
DEAR LEARNED THE HARD WAY: You said it -- and eloquently.