I HAD a very strange experience a few years ago which has made me think about the nature of love. I’d been advertising for a room-mate for my spare room to get me over a financial hump.
I interviewed scores of people; I would spend up to an hour going through every detail. It was exhausting.
Then one day a young man arrived. He was a student from abroad. Within a few seconds, we knew. No questions, no answers, no nothing. We just looked at each other with a sense of profound familiarity. As the days went by I realised I loved him. Not in a romantic way, rather as if he was my brother or a son. He felt the same way and we spent many months talking, walking, laughing, up through the night watching films. When he left we both sobbed and sobbed, and we write to each other every few weeks.
When I think of him I can’t work out why I loved him from second one. He was a total stranger and yet I felt closer to him than to many people in my life. It wasn’t the love that comes from common interests. I loved him before I liked him. It was the same with my ex-husband. I knew that second I met him that we would get married. I chose my husband quicker than it takes me to choose a flavour of ice-cream. And he remains a soulmate, to this day.
Why do we love some of our friends/ lovers in a familial heartfelt way, and simply admire, respect or enjoy others? We all have friends who we feel are blood; our hearts are as open to them as a sister or brother from the moment of meeting. Others we really love to “be with”, we laugh and talk all night, and have great intimacy but there is no profound soul connection.
I asked various acquaintances and friends their views. Someone suggested to me it was in the body language, someone else said some people are just lovable or loving — others are likable or inspirational. Another said it was past-life memory. “We recognise our soulmates.” Someone said it was possibly that some people reminded us of a mum, dad or loved ones.
One of my closest friends once told me she thought I was “a complete nutter”. She was teaching a two-hour course. I walked up to her at the end and said without wavering: “We’re going to be best friends for life.” She was aghast at my declaration. Twenty years later we are still the dearest friends. And I’m still a nutter — one who is deeply curious about who and why we choose to love.