by Dean Wallraff

One-Way Relationships


Dear Jennifer Connelly:

I keep writing to you, and it's OK that you never answer. I know you are very busy being a movie star. But I can tell from the way you are in films that you treasure my letters. We really "click" in many ways. We're soul-mates, much more so than the Hollywood Hunk of the Month you're currently going out with. I would be jealous if our own relationship weren't so much deeper.

One-way relationships with others are essentially relationships with yourself. The other party might receive the missives, but you don't know if they're eagerly awaited or casually discarded.
     There are several kinds of one-way relationships:

  • as a "fan," such as Jennifer's correspondent above;
  • with God – prayers are missives whose receipt can't be confirmed. Could they conceivably be eagerly awaited?
  • with actual friends, acquaintances, lovers, etc., whom one doesn't see clearly enough.

I have a friend who idealizes and idolizes all the women he's romantically involved with, so they serve as receptacles for his passionate feelings about Woman. He can do this without seeing or caring who they are, or what makes them unique. This raises the issue of solipsism – how well do any of us know, how clearly do we see our friends? All relationships contain a certain amount of this one-way quality. Imagining and communicating with a god is the ultimate form of this, because a god is inherently unknowable.
     This here is a one-way relationship with an imagined reader. I know you're out there! At least I'm not trying to create an image of you in my mind, because I expect that lots of different people will eventually read this.
     Most of the time when we're creating the other party in our mind we're imagining a version of ourselves. Even with God. The line in Genesis where it says that God created man in his own image is ironic because it's so clearly the other way around.
     Writing, like prayer, forces introspection. "Learn by writing, as by reading." These one-way relationships can be a good way to think things through. If you somehow communicate with another being, that's a bonus.

Copyright © 2000 - 2008 by Dean Wallraff. All rights reserved.