My mother taught me that it is entirely possible to find a soulmate who is not your husband. A meeting of minds and spirits that turns into hours of delightful conversation – the kind that stretches you to intellectual capacity. Oh, the joy of being challenged! I would take this further and say I have three such conversational companions, and now maybe a fourth.
You see, I had a conversation yesterday that spanned some three hours. With someone I’d only said about ten words to before. It took in the philosophical concept of Verisimilitude, TED Talks, taxes, FGM, data, curiosity-led science, procreation, the effect of public schooling on politics, social anxiety, property and the morality of “Does yes still mean yes if she falls asleep?”.
There really is nothing like two intelligent people talking about everything in the world. The pronunciation gets steadily more clipped, the words grow longer and longer. And there are frequent pauses as one gropes for the EXACT word, no compromising.
A male stranger and a female stranger will not usually spend hours exclusively in each other’s company unless sex is going to happen, and if it’s a lingering possibility then there will be no Intellectual One Night Stand – because you will both be thinking about seeming attractive and sane, i.e. not being honest. So it’s actually vital for the Intellectual One Night Stand that there is no chance of a relationship at all: one of the two must be off the table.
But the trouble is, how many partners would be happy for their other half to engage in riveting and stimulating discourse with someone potentially attractive and definitely interesting for hours at a time? Because, of course, talking is how you fall in love. You may lust for someone but it’s not until you realise they are the funniest person you’ve ever met and they know Baudelaire poems by heart that you fall in love.
It’s almost taboo. I’ve never heard anyone discuss the Intellectual One Night Stand. Do people not have them? Are humans so wrapped up in the idea of finding someone to procreate with that it crowds out any other kind of relationship between a man and a woman? Men Phil’s age tell him it’s very odd that he ‘lets’ me go out with my male friends. They barely talk to their own wives, so how can they possibly imagine the magic of deep platonic interest?
So, we have a problem. But actually, my mother doesn’t. My mother spends whole weekends with her soulmate, laughing and talking late into the night. This has come about because my father travels a fair bit, so she plans her visits to coincide – both parties engaged and amused, rather than one sitting at home alone.
I need this stimulation. My chosen mate is very intelligent and knows a great many things I don’t. But he is not an intellectual thinker, because he just does not care about dissecting philosophical arguments or imagined personality disorders. I’m going to say it: only slightly above normally intelligent people talk in this way. An endless circle of cross-examined arguments; an examination of treasured neuroses; a meandering debate that questions everything, even one’s own strongly held beliefs.
You can’t know your own thoughts without first discussing them with another intelligent person, because they will cause you to doubt and therefore re-explore everything you thought you knew – that other people had just taken at face value. I crave this kind of challenge and (this may be due to my studied avoidance tactics) I only find this connection with men.
That’s not to say I couldn’t with a female, as I’m sure there are millions of women I could have intense conversations with – but it’s never happened. The closest I get is with my mam, where there are quite a lot of the conversational features I’ve been gushing about.
It’s funny that I spend so much of my time talking about ‘connecting’ and ‘sharing’ in the social media sense. When that kind of online communication is so incredibly shallow compared to the real thing. I was just scrolling through Facebook marvelling at the videos and articles people thought so great that they had to share – but did they? Rarely. It’s often articles they haven’t actually read or videos that are a bit funny or cute. There may be a short argument or discussion but without non-verbal communication and on-the-spot, impassioned reaction, there is no real connection.
I will never forget the conversation I had yesterday morning, not as long as I live. When was the last time you felt like that? Go after it. Seek it. You haven’t lived until you’ve delayed going home to shower and eat away your hangover for hours because the discussion you’re having is too incredible to end.