This note is dedicated exclusively to the vastly underrated word, “like.” Our use of the word has no relationship or connection with that word as used in face book patois to signify approval of, or agreement with, a particular post; nor is it related, in any way, to the too frequent use of that word, particularly by the younger set, as a constant preface to any statement to indicate emotional distance from the declaration and to preserve the fashionable suggestion of “cool.”
To our point, the word “like” seems, unjustly, to have been given a back seat to the more ethereal and much romanticized word, “love.” We would energetically and earnestly hold that, in the normal course of life, the word like proves to be more enduringly reliable and decisive.
We were sitting on a bus the other day in close proximity to two lovely late teen girls, engaged, apparently, in a most intense conversation. The quality of “intense” was deduced from the observation that, during the interaction, their noses were in dangerous proximity to each other. The salient utterance appeared to be a question posed by one to the other, as follows: “But do you like him, or do you like him like him?” We confess, it did take a few moments for a senior citizen, well outside the au courrant lingo, to comprehend the profundity of this question. As understood, if the response were, “I like him,” the immediate diagnosis of the extent of the relationship would conclusively be that of (mere) friendship; on the other hand, if the response were, “I like him, like him” love would be the communicated admission.
Many people, most especially the cohort of young adults, presumably aspiring to mates and family, would characterize the presence of intense attraction, sexual or otherwise, as love. Most plays, operas, songs, soaps, and literary works extol and transmogrify the concept. Although there seems to be no evidence of a workable translation of the word, it is universally understood to be the essential ingredient requisite to the establishment of an enduring relationship. Accordingly, the search for love, or its idealized conception is intense, concentrated and additionally, controversial.
In the context and setting of the family, the presence of “love” is implicitly assumed, virtually definitional and therefore not questioned, although it may not be the reality. In the setting of the long term relationship, one is seen to love his spouse or partner, as perceived as the societally accepted concomitant of the publicly recognized relationship.
Long established relationships, experiencing stresses, rendering mutual nursing services in instances of unpleasant or noxious illnesses, strains of child rearing and raising, financial stress, possible in-law problems, financial stresses and other such events, often result in a change in the nature of feelings, a more prosaic taking of each other for granted in respective roles and obligations; romanticized love is no longer an observable or felt phenomenon. Exotic and idealized notions of romantic love have morphed into a more practical and mundane dependence and long established familiarity.
We would maintain that the long enduring phenomenon, namely, liking each other, is the dependable adhesive holding relationships together and making for pleasant and desirable interaction. “Liking” is the most vital feature, it is reasonable, comprehensible and also noticeable.
In the case of sibling, or other assumed, familial love, do you really like your brother Freddy? In your relationship, do you honestly like your spouse or partner; do you enjoy his company, would you, in other circumstances, have chosen him for a friend?
We can offer no studies or statistical back up but would nevertheless, confidently hazard the proposition that most couples will stay together in their long term relationship, if they like each other and may well separate if they do not, irrespective of the element of “love.” Siblings and other familial relatives will happily and enthusiastically socialize, for other than mandatory major life events if they like each other.
“Like” outlasts outweighs and outperforms “love” by any rational or experiential measure.