A long time ago, when I was first developing a relationship with Jim, I came up with the “rule of 3” for analyzing what we were building. Having a bit of experience, having failed in previous relationships, and being in my mid twenties, I thought I was oh, so smart. It was a way to check my out of control feelings at the door, and make sure that I was moving to Corvallis for the right reasons. At that age, I had a very hard time admitting that I would compromise any part of my life for a guy, so it was a way to justify my actions. The rule of 3 worked. We fell in love. We built a marriage and a family. The rule of 3 held true. I find myself building a relationship again. I am again applying the rule of 3. My feelings are again out of control. At age 53, I know I am not smart, and I can only hope to scratch the surface of wise. And, I have so much more to lose. Love after 50 is scarier.
The original rule of 3. In order for a long term partnership to develop, the person has to: 1) be a good, if not best, friend 2) be a good roommate 3) be a compatible lover. Sounds simple, like those XKCD formulas for love. Perhaps if I apply yet more rules of 3 to those 3 rules.
A good friend has to:
1) Know how to play: I don’t mean competitive sports or the latest card game here. I’m referring to the ability to turn any situation into an opportunity to smile or laugh. This can be sliding down icy roads on our boots, turning somersaults in the water, skipping instead of walking, dancing instead of just sulking until asked. Play….life is too short to take everything too seriously.
2) Know how to cry: This doesn’t mean feeling like the world is a horrible place. It is about recognizing that life is not always a joy ride. It is bittersweet. Sometimes really sad things happen, and it really is OK to cry. Someone who only feels the joy in life is only living half a life.
3) Know how to talk: This is not the person who dominates every conversation and is always the life of the party with their witty sayings. This is the person who will curl up with me on my bed, and tell me what is in their heart. They will listen to me, and care about what I have to say….even before it makes sense to either of us.
A good roommate:
1) Has to be happy with what they have. Home can be the back of a pick up truck, a tent in the wilderness, a paid for house in Moscow, or the land where your animals roam. Sharing good food, working together to make a place better, knowing when to relax and enjoy what is right in front of us is imperative. Home is where our hearts are, and knowing that just like the rocks and the trees, we deserve a place on this planet, makes every place home.
2) Willingly share in the work. I want a person that understands that division of labor is not all bad. I like to cook, and I don’t mind doing laundry. I really suck at splitting wood, and I am not tall enough to reach high cupboards without a step stool. I can pack for a camping or river trip in less than 2 hours, but I hate to do all the shopping. But, working alongside another outside, as the sun goes down on another beautiful day, that is close to heaven. Labor that is shared, without even needing to ask, bonds in a way that few other things can.
3) Share similar habits. At this age, the automatic and habitual aspects of living don’t change much. I could never live with a total slob, nor could I tolerate someone who needs to scrub the kitchen floor daily. While I want to know where things in my home are, I don’t need to have my spices and CD’s alphabetized. I get up early. Having the dishes done and the coffee ready to go are not mandatory, but they do make for a better night’s sleep. Sharing morning coffee is so very sweet.
A compatible lover has to (now this is tougher, and WAY more personal):
1) Be passionate. This is not just the gushy stare into each other’s eyes for hours kind of thing. I love with my whole heart, and I love many things about this journey we call life. I love my friends and family. I love my work. I love rainbows, waterfalls and the sunlight coming through fluffy snow. I love the sound of a river while I am sleeping, and music around a campfire. I want a person who shares that passion for life, a person that wakes up in the morning and wonders about and revels in the what the day brings.
2) Be attractive to me. This is very personal, and I’m pretty sure no formula can be applied. I look back on my life and realize that everyone I have loved has been comfortable in their own skin. I think the human body is amazing, and enjoying what it can do is important. Hair color, length, or even amount is not important, nor is eye color, skin color, or number of injuries. I move to stay sane, and for the joy that movement brings to me. Being fit is not just an aspect of physique, it is a lifestyle statement, and a love of oneself. I am attracted to folks who rejoice in what their bodies are capable of.
3) We have to “fit”. I am a touchy person, and I like to snuggle. My head has to rest in that spot between a neck and a shoulder, and a hand has to fit into mine. Coming into an embrace has to feel exciting and restful all at the same time. I am feisty, but I am not very big. I need a combination of strength and tenderness to hold onto in these later years.
I am again building a relationship. I had just about given up hope that it was possible. I thought I would have to compromise some part of my life, or go it solo. I am applying rules of 3 to my rule of 3. I know that love is not a formula, but after a couple of months, I continue to be amazed rather than disappointed. I am happy and my feelings are out of control. His name is Greg. Say hello when you see us out and about.