Monday, April 14, 2008

Lovers Are For Old People?

I was engaged in a discussion the other day and the question found itself in the midst of the conversation. What is a lover?

That feeling hit me. You know when you meet someone face to face, a person you've spoken to and got to know quite well over the phone or perhaps by email. Then you meet and, if you're like me, you think to yourself

"Fucking hell, she looks nothing like I'd imagined"

Yet you hadn't built up any kind of conscious mental image in your head before the meeting. You hadn't thought that she would have blonde hair and a bum like two cats in a bag. You hadn't thought that he'd be the spitting image of Ranil Wickremesinghe only with a beard and bad acne. No, you thought that you had no preconceived notions, but on meeting the meetee, you were shocked and surprised anyway.

The feeling hit me because the definition of a lover is something I've never pondered on before, it's always existed in the back of my mind, whenever I've read the word I've understood it and carried on with life. But, all of a sudden I was sitting there and scratching my chin, wondering exactly what a lover is.

Of course it's not a word used much in everyday conversation now anyway. I can't think of many people who I can imagine saying the word. There are a few oldish Aunts who I can picture telling another oldish Aunt about two of their younger contacts who

"Used to be lovers you know"

But that's about it. It's an old fashioned word mostly bandied about in films and in print.

To me it implies a sexual relationship that was more than a one night stand. Although it's not wrong to describe two people who once had a one night stand as "ex lovers", it's also not quite right.

It also doesn't seem to apply to a married couple, even though a married couple are usually lovers too, which could open up another discussion altogether. I can't picture a husband introducing his wife to someone and labelling her as his lover. The French use of the word, or rather the British image of the French use, throws up images of a French fellow, married to some average looking middle aged woman and having a glamorous and sexy girlfriend on the side. She'd live in a plush apartment overlooking the Seine and the chap would be her only partner.

A relationship with sex, of an ongoing sort.

Black and white people in old films would have been labelled as lovers too, as would the actors who played the people. Marilyn Monroe and JKF were lovers, Antony and Cleopatra were lovers and even Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan were lovers. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were lovers for sure, but had they both been alive and married to each other now I don't think many would label them as lovers.

Whenever I hear the words "to take a lover" my mind conjurs up slightly romantic and sexy visions of a glamorous older woman deciding to "take a lover" rather like picking out a new pair of shoes or a postcard from a rack. As a younger and far more virile man it was perfectly normal for me to think along those lines but now I'm the age of the older women and still coming to terms with my loss. I'm told that many men go through this sort of phase in their life and deal with it by buying a Harley Davidson or joining a band or something. You wouldn't catch me doing that kind of thing!

But to "take a lover" gives me that older woman image. The woman would pick out some sort of stud, then use and abuse him on a regular basis. There'd be no mental connection, just ongoing physical stuff, very possibly with her paying him money or "keeping" him. It's hard to see why many young men would be attracted to this sort of thing isn't it.

What do you think? Is the word "lover" an old fashioned one that no one uses anymore? Would you describe your girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/wife as your lover? Or is it only the French who have lovers?



Maya said...

The word 'lover' holds more or less the same meaning for me as it does for you. It is a relationship involving sex but outside of the union of marraige. I don't think it is an old fashioned word. In fact i think it has je ne sais quoi...a sense of maybe glamour but also the possibility controversy. But at its core, its a couple who are beyond the holding hand stage and invoved in sexual relations.

Dinidu de Alwis said...

The word "lover" for me instantly bring images of the French!

But if you ask me to define it, I would explain someone who loves someone else.

Anonymous said...

Well a good question indeed. But thinking on the same lines ..There seems different terms in different cultures isn't it..while in a (let me be politically correct here) melanin blessed community , she would be 'my bitch' in good old SL in might be "his Keep".

Here in Hk many Mainlanders (chinese) have their female aquintences in Hk. I wander what they call them ....... lo Wah may be

Indyana said...

RD...the topics you come up with!?But, well, it isn't an old fashioned word is it?Maybe I dont know enough abt this...but the word conjures up images of two people that are testing(?) the grounds before a full commitment is made.I guess a great deal of passion is part of it, and romanticism.Marriage may or may not be the next stage.Some people do maintain this level of "lover"ness through marriage as well, which is amazing!

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Maya - Yes, I fully agree, but then you agreed with me, so I should!

Dinidu - But do you mean that lovers could be people who have a platonic relationship?

Anon - Good point, I hadn't even begun to think about cultural differences in terminology, maybe a brand new post.

Indyana - Your view is very different to mine, an interesting concept.

Anonymous said...

So RD do you wish you had a lover? Or is the position already taken?

Dili said...

Lovers make love, and we have your previous post to explain what THAT means :)

I just keep thinking of a pair in a relationship thats more about the lovin (physical and spiritual) than anything else. More than friends and less than a couple. I mean 'friends' don't do the physical love and 'relationship' & 'marriage' means you have a helluva lot more on your mind than plain and simple 'lovin', which is quite unfortunate. :P

Anonymous said...

if lovers make love, presumably darlings make...?!

T said...

when i hear lovers i think sex and/or an illicit affair. i don't hear it used regularly though, maybe it IS just for old people! we call it hookups nowadays :)

Dinidu de Alwis said...

That's what I said, if I'm defining "lovers" then it would be someone who loves. Like animal lovers and green lovers.

But the word "lovers" bring pictures of midnight escapade kind of things...