this book is the culmination of our over-twenty-year attempt to
articulate the meaning of a dialogical love relationship between a
man and a woman who are married, but not to each other. We will articulate
the meaning of dialogical love throughout this book by reflecting
on concrete examples, seeking the meaning of this relationship in light
of the thought of scholars, and by dialogue between the authors. For
now, we will merely identify dialogical love as love that grows out of
personal interaction that is initiated by the presence of the other and
responds directly to that presence. It contrasts with “love” in which persons
use each other ...view middle of the document...
Macmurray developed an interpretation
of personal love that called for change in the way we think of
the relationship between men and women. Martin Buber and Alfred
Schutz interpret ways of being between persons that imply new understandings
of the relationship between men and women. C. S. Lewis and
Rollo May treat love as a personal relationship and distinguish love
from friendship. Caroline Simon and Robert Solomon treat intergender
friendship directly and explore its relationship to love. In this book we
will share the thought of philosophers who have enlightened our understanding
of the relationship between men and women and will explore
possibilities they suggest.
We will explore possible nontraditional personal relationships
between men and women and give concrete examples of how some of
these possibilities have found fulfillment. We will ask our readers to
entertain the possibility of developing new relationships with persons of
the opposite sex rather than the traditional ones based on sex and romance.
The primary question this new direction raises is not, “Are they friends
or lovers?” but “Is their relationship personal or impersonal?” Relationships
that focus on fitting the designated ways of society are often
impersonal—even when they are called personal relationships such as
friends or lovers. In personal relationships, as we will show, persons
respond to each other as they are present to each other and in ways that
presence calls forth, rather than by following the dictates of societal
roles. When people attempt to relate to each other personally within the
confines of societal structures, they often find their personal relationships
restricted and truncated by these structures. Even those who initially
do not feel their relationship restricted by traditional structures
2 WHY ANOTHER INTERPRETATION OF LOVE?
often look to their personal relationship as it matures, rather than to
society, to define the meaning of that relationship.
Our goals in trying to articulate the way of being that we have
called dialogical love are twofold. Academically, we want to issue a call
for further exploration of what we designate as dialogical love so that it
can be better understood and more clearly articulated. Personally, we
want to help others venture out and explore new personal relationships
that go beyond traditional structures in their quest for abundant being
and deep personal fulfillment.
We can speak of relationships that foster abundant being and deep
personal fulfillment because we have been in such a relationship for over
twenty years. We have encountered other couples who have experienced
similar relationships, some of whom participated in the interviews used
in this book. Those we interviewed shared the common experience of
developing deep fulfilling relationships that do not fit into the accepted
categories of our society—courtship, marriage, affairs, or “just” friend
relationships. We did not...