Love v. Friendship

Love v. Friendship

By Eric Baret

Love, as it is usually understood, is an absence of friendship. It's a barter, an exchange, it's business. You give me this, I do that. I don't sleep with the neighbor, you don't sleep with the neighbor; we are faithful. 

Friendship is being available for everything possible. I don't have to know if I am the lover, the husband, the friend, the father, the child. There are a lot of humanly possible roles. At some point, I no longer position myself according to these roles. Everything is flexible. If I meet someone, I have no pre-set role. The role is created in the moment and it disappears in the moment.

We must find creativity in human relations. There isn't just one alternative — to make love or not to make love — there are multiple possibilities for human encounters, be they physical, mental, or psychological. Open up to these multiple layers, staying in the body. It's not just either tenderness or violence. There is a whole continuum of emotions. Out of fear, out of a need to know, we usually only get to experience the extreme points... and we reject everything in the middle.

Human relations are easy, very easy. We just need to love what we encounter. To love is to set free. When there is no psychological conflict, you cannot get upset. Do people get upset with you? You respect that. At a certain point, you can no longer be upset.

There is inevitable suffering, physical suffering: when you are tortured, when you have certain terrible accidents. But psychological suffering — suffering because your wife does this, because your husband does that, because someone has died — is unnecessary. We already have enough inevitable suffering to face; we need to devote our capacity for suffering to those moments. Suffering because we are not loved, at least that we can do without. This does not deny the intensity of human relationships, on the contrary. It is the fantasy of loving that makes human relationships mushy.

You can spend a whole lifetime with someone in deep love. Then, love is not a fantasy, it is a palpable resonance. If loving someone isn't an idea, you don't need to change husbands every ten years. You know very well that with someone else it will be the same; we only encounter our own issues. You can spend a lifetime in a wonderful relationship, you can spend a lifetime deepening this relationship; it is a relationship without demands, a relationship of love, in the sense that we deeply love what is here.

Otherwise, there is always disappointment. We become frustrated, bitter. We show a slightly retracted upper lip, a physiological symptom of bitter people. We get angry easily, we jump when the phone rings, we become cantankerous because we are unconsciously frustrated, because we've demanded something that does not exist. 

Becoming aware of this sets us free from all demands. What is left then? There remains love, an absence of need.