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Choosing Between Love or Compatibility

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The other day, I ran across an old poem of mine called, “That’s Why You Ain’t Got Nobody.” The poem was written 12 or 13 years ago, back before I was married and divorced. My reflection of i ts creation made me chuckle with nostalgia. While in a supermarket one day, I overheard two middle aged African-American women. One lady asked the other, which component of a relationship was more important to her between love, lust, and compatibility. The reply was ‘compatibility,’ with the explanation that couples that are in love often are not compatible; therefore, the relationship fails. And couples that are lust-driven seldom have anything else in common; therefore, the woman concluded that she choose compatibility.

Although, I liked the ‘compatibility’ answer, her friends’ response to that answer was, “That’s why you isn’t got nobody!” I remember thinking that would be a catchy title for a poem.

At the time, I was several months into a going-nowhere relationship with a divorcee who had pledged to wait until love comes along. Of course, she didn’t tell me about her commitment to waiting on her girlish fantasy to come true until I had taken her out a half dozen times. I figured that she would eventually reconsider the unnatural condition she had placed on her libido and when she did, I would be there to welcome her back to reality.

During a rainy night while we sat on the sofa watching a movie, I kissed her. First an innocent kiss, then a more intimate one, and then a passionate one, after which she turned her head away and said rather harshly, “I don’t think you love me." To which I replied, something to the affect of, “Love is relative, I love many things about you.” Suddenly, we were sitting a couple feet apart. A discussion of committed love versus noncommittal intimacy ensued, which I asked if she looked for a man based on love, lust, or compatibility as I remember hearing asked in the supermarket. She replied that we were very compatible but her heart doesn’t skip a beat when I come around and lust was out of the question because of her religious values. She expressed that she felt close to me but was waiting for a certain feeling in her heart to signal that love was there. Then she asked if I felt that I loved her.

Today, I can’t remember the exact exchange but basically I recall telling her that at her age, which was forty something, she was being unfair and encouraging me to lie to her. I expressed that I felt that love should not be based on what a person tells you but on how they treat you, and on honesty, mutual pleasure, and the potential for longevity, which is achieved through compatibility.

Delusions of love get many couples into revolving-door relationships. Just because a person claims to love you or you feel you love that person is not the signal from heaven to leap into a bed. Infatuation is often mistaken for love and always temporary. Compatibility is the quality stapler that keeps relationships well grounded. However, love is fickle, even in many marriages. Compatible couples that are honest and respect each other and loved being together was a reality that would never leave her brokenhearted.

I further expressed that it was highly unlikely that I would ever feel like carving my and her initials in a tree or sit around in my spare time and write love letters the way I did as a teenager when I felt love for a girl. At my age, at that time, late 40s, I told her, a woman who knows CPR is a woman I want to keep. A woman that recognizes that every twitching eye is not a flirtatious wink is a woman that I could fall in love with. I’m beyond sweet talk for the sake of sweet talk. And lust is a game for those out of control and mature people should remain in control.

Finally she said that unless I loved her with a romantic love that could lead to marriage, we would never be intimate, to which I replied, “That’s why you ain’t got nobody.” I left her house for the last time that night, and within the next few days I wrote the poem.

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