Notes on romantic attachment

“What does it matter how many lovers you have if none of them gives you the universe?”

– Jacques Lacan


A picture or two to remember me by—that’s what they always ask. Framed through the lens, with bluish-grey mountains behind me, or the moon and a sickle of clouds overhead, I listen to their mellifluous nothings: smile, smile for me.

They seldom show me the photograph. I think they want to own the memory. When they go, I am tempted to run after them, if only to grab their camera, examine the still of a bygone moment, and delete it.

Listen: When you leave me, forget me.


Don’t think of me as habit or luxury. Neither do I want to be like air or water to you, nor coffee in the morning and cigarettes throughout the day. I want to be the street you always take on the way home, though there are shorter, more convenient routes. The book you’ve read a hundred times and still bring with you on long train rides. The melody you hum on rainy days. The dry-pressed cordate leaf from a lovely summer years ago that you keep between the pages of your journal.


I’m not one for coquetry. I don’t walk away expecting anyone to call or pull me back by the hand. That is why I vanish: I can’t stand to be taken for granted.


I am a woman and proud. I will talk to whomever I like and sleep with whomever I love. In that sense, I have never loved anyone.


Please don’t use that word; I prefer “discerning.”

What I have learned, you see, is that not everyone will be worth the effort, the time, and the hurt.


When he told me I was beautiful, I had no doubt that he meant it—in the sense of the use-theory of meaning. That is, with that utterance he sought to accomplish something.

But the language-game of flirtation bores me. It runs along predictable lines to whisk its players to the same denouement. If love should come, let it come without design or pretense. I don’t believe in courtship founded on mind games, stratagems, and other such deployments when the goal is conquest, as in war.


Don’t afflict me with imagery calculated to manufacture commercially exploitable emotion yet fails to seize the imagination. A bouquet of roses means: I do not know what else to give you, did not bother to give it a thought.


Though polite, meaningless banalities are necessary to sociality, you need not waste so many words on them. Tell me something interesting instead, something I don’t already know. Tell me something true, tell me something that matters.


The more complex a text is—and by complex I don’t mean merely incomprehensible—the more exciting it is to read. So it is with people.

Make me want to build a tower of pennies for your thoughts.


The pleasure one feels upon hearing one’s name uttered by someone s/he cares about comes of the need for appreciation. To call another by name is to acknowledge their particular existence—I see you, I recognize you, your being here matters. And then there is the particular pronoun—as in, when I say “him,” I mean only him:

“I saw him yesterday.”





Flames are called such because they don’t work in extended time, especially when all you have to burn is kindling: a few hours, furtive glances, a touch or a sigh, and an overactive but limited imagination. Romances that fail to crystallize are best consigned to memory, tinged plummy by fantasy.


I love as a function of being. I love as a function of excess. I love to expand and express my multitudes. I love to make meaning.


Often regularity breeds insipidity, then discontent and restiveness. Can you imagine talking or being with the same person Every. Single. Day?


“See you soon” implies habit or determination; “See you around” implies chance. Which do you use? And do you mean it, the wish to “See you”?

Remember: It is wrong to be reckless with people’s hearts. And it is foolish to be reckless with a writer’s. Just ask Taylor Swift or Adele.


If you like me, let me know. How would you negotiate the space between self and other when the other exists in an internalized form—a dream, a wish, a fantasy? How could there be attraction there?


On declarations of love: Do you have evidence to support your claim?


“Can we stay friends?” means: “I like you too much to spoil our relationship with the corrosive illusion of romance.” This is not a rebuff, but a higher kind of regard.


There’s a provision in the civil code that says, one is not compelled to accept the kindness of another. So, there is legal basis for rejecting affection one knows one can’t return.


Don’t be upset when people leave. Don’t think that they are leaving you. It’s not about abandonment, but flow. We are made to move, and move on.

That said, I do feel sad when I sever relationships. It’s like losing a world I had access to through another person.


Espera, no te aman como te amo.

One thought on “Notes on romantic attachment

  1. Pingback: How to fall in love with an English major* | tenant on the top floor

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