Come, all my well-read Italian (and non) friends. Divina commedia, Inferno, Canto V, verso 103. You all know the verse. Love, that exempts no one beloved from loving (Longfellow translation, 1867). I shall not descend into analysing Dante. Many clever people have done so rather well before me, and who am I to have anything meaningful to add at all? But besides the evil infatuation that overwhelms Francesca and Paolo and leads to their death, what exactly is the love that forces the one who’s truly loved to return the affection? Is it something almost transcendent; the absolute love, a passion so pure and irresistible, as Dante sees it, that even attempting to fight it would be foolish? Or is it an emotion much more human, say, simple gratitude? How often do people fall in love not with the person itself, but with the affection shown? How easy is it to feel so flattered by the love the other one expresses, that we convince ourselves that we, too, are in love? Until we’re not. I think we’ve all been there, one side or the other, some of us both.
I am not talking about unrequited love. That’s just bad luck, although in many ways we’re better off knowing that we are not loved in return, rather than believing we are. I am not saying that there is any foul game on purpose. I believe most people don’t even realise that whatever they feel is not love. They deceive themselves (and the other one) that they return the feeling, out of simple disbelief (“there is finally someone who fancies me”), out of fear (“God knows how much time will pass before this happens again”), out of lust (everyone, or most people, enjoys getting laid), out of false conviction that it’s always better to be with someone rather than not. It’s not. It’s not better for either side. I have been told, non so long ago, that as soon as I come to understand that our break up was the only possible way (at the time I had no bloody clue how that would be possible, given he did not bother to explain a single thing), we could be friends. I guess this is it. As in, I think I do understand. And I aknowledge you were right, kind even, although I most certainly did not see it that way at the time. As for the friendship, that does not really depend on me. I may have done one-way love in the past. Hasn’t everybody? But I don’t really know (or care) how to do a one-way friendship.