I put this post in our “Random Thoughts” category because I put it out there, as kind an observation with a question mark, wondering if the “test” really works.
As many of our blog readers know, I am a huge fan of the English novelist George Eliot. Along with J.R.R. Tolkien and Albert Camus, she ranks as my favorite prose author, with Homer, Wordluf (AKA the Beowulf-poet) and Wordsworth ranking as my favorite poets.
I have often believed that if you really want to date someone, you would show an interest in their passions. For example, before I came out, a German woman was obsessed with me, yet entirely indifferent to the things I loved, refusing to understand why I would prefer to sit at home reading than to go to a crowded club with loud music playing. It seemed she was attracted to the surface and remarkably uncurious about what lay beneath.
Over a decade ago, I met a nice intelligent, attractive, libertarian man in a relationship and we struck up a friendship. When I met him at his office for lunch, I caught sight of a brand new volume of Wordsworth’s poetry. He had bought it because of my love for the great English Romantic. I was flattered. I also recognized that all was not well with his (then-)relationship. In retrospect, I wondered if I should have done something more, given this obvious interest. He would later break up with the boyfriend, but foolishly perhaps, I never pursued the matter.
Only later, much later, did I appreciate how significant his act was, going out of his way to buy a book of poems because I loved the poet.
I doubt I had that experience in mind when I bought Silas Marner, Eliot’s shortest, sweetest and most accessible novel for a close friend (but it may have been lurking in my subconscious). When we first met, we started dating, but realized there wasn’t a romantic spark, so enjoying each other’s company, remained friends. As to the book, he couldn’t, he claimed, get past its first few pages.
At the time, it bothered me a bit that he didn’t even make an effort to read the book, then one day (while driving on the freeway as I recall), my thoughts cleared a bit and I realized it was unfair to fault him for not liking something I loved. He just didn’t like it. And it struck me then that maybe the two things were related, his disinterest in the novel I loved and the absence of romantic spark between us.
Last fall, I bought the book for another young man I was dating. He soon started reading the book and shortly thereafter, e-mailed me excitedly about the first few pages, but his interest soon petered out. He didn’t bring up the book again. We stopped dating in December. Sweet though he was, there just wasn’t a spark.
Some time in the spring, I noted the similarity between the two stories, the latter man’s declining interest in a book the other man couldn’t get into (and the absence of spark in both cases). Was there a correlation between the absence of spark and their failure to push on in the novel?
Now, this is not to say that an interest in George Eliot guarantees compatibility. The first guy I dated while blogging (mentioned in some 2005 posts) was a huge fan of George Eliot, yet while we enjoyed each other’s company, that relationship never took off.
So, is there something to this random (and perhaps rambling) thought?
If someone was truly interested in getting to know me, wouldn’t he want to explore my passions and thus read a book I had purchased for him?
Have some of you had similar experiences? And to those in long-term relationships, did you find, when first you met, your better half to make an effort to understand and appreciate your passions?
And should I give Silas Marner to each guy I meet for a date to see how he responds to the gift? Eager to hear your thoughts. 🙂