I’ve been playing a song a lot on ITunes recently, a song called “Happy,” by Pharrell Williams. I’ve met someone new, and perhaps what I really should be listening to is Liza Minnelli singing, “Maybe This Time,” but even I have to admit that grown up romance feels far different than those long gone youthful dalliances. The rush, urgency, and yes, even desperation of young love no longer dictate my approach to love. Having a romantic relationship now isn’t the same as when I was in my 20’s.

I realize I need to be careful what narrative I tell myself about the possibility of romance blossoming. If I am jaded and cynical, I believe I’m far less likely to attract a worthwhile person into my life. I also don’t want a toss away, meaningless experience. I want to draw a great guy into my life.

Having said that, it occurred to me that eros still rules me, more than I’d like to admit. Luckily, this new guy is very handsome, but nevertheless there’s still something about the attention of a stranger that inevitably draws me in.

Patrick and I headed into the city to walk around the gay neighborhood, catch an art film, and go to dinner where we could be comfortable, rather than self conscious, about being ourselves. We stopped into a Starbucks, simply to use the bathroom, and suddenly, a stranger glanced up, staring into my eyes, and I could feel the electricity between us humming like a tea kettle. Something about the attention of a total stranger is a turn on. Flirting is a turn on.

In the Greek language, there are four recognized words for love: agape, philia, storge, and eros.

I crave agape most of all, I think, agape meaning a “spiritual love,” a deep abiding affection for someone, something that transcends the merely physical. Agape is selfless, and is truly unconditional love whereas philia refers more to mental love, and includes affectionate regard or friendship. The term philos includes loyalty to friends and family as well as loyalty to your community. Storge is more specific to one’s family, meaning affection like that felt by a parent for her child. And then, of course, there’s eros. Eros drives physical and sexual attraction for another person.

I get the sense that without eros, I would be “faking” my attraction for someone else, but I find myself wondering, What is it about that immediate physical attraction, looking up to capture the attention of someone I will never even meet, that appeals to me? The attention itself is addictive. Luckily, my higher sense of self rules my head, and I have more than one way of feeling and demonstrating attraction for a new person. I am seeking out someone who will make me into an even better person, a more complete expression of who I am and what I’m capable of, someone who encourages my creativity and, on a selfish level, someone who makes me feel attractive.

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