What separates a friend from a lover?

what the hell is love anyway? i don’t believe a lot of things about traditional relationships and - this extends to other things as well - whenever i ask people about love they’re always saying “oh you’ll KNOW when it’s love.” and i always end up thinking, will i? because people said the same thing about going to university. they said “oh you’ll just walk onto a campus and KNOW” and i NEVER had that experience and spent a whole bunch of time feeling weirdly defective. and so many things are trying to make us feel weird and defective when it comes to love. books and movies and magazines and sex education in school and our various religions and family pressures and society and every moment, combined. i don’t want to feel weird and defective. and i don’t want to feel pressured into a one-track deal. i’m sure there’s more to it than that. i have a lot of experience with feelings now. i guess we all get that growing up. at different rates. i started thinking about intimacy and romance and relationships in sixth grade but i wasn’t anywhere near ready to actually deal with it until probably...10th? and even then, not really. i had no idea what i was doing. even when i had my first “real” partner, it was fucked up and scary for a long time before it kind of became ok and even then i look back on that whole thing and think a lot less positively about it. and that’s the relationship i had that probably came nearest to someone saying i love you. i think he was going to say it. i actually think he did say it, but sort of casually and like it didn’t mean much. which honestly was probably just him trying not to be awkward. but i never felt like saying it. i had a bit of a crisis about that - i remember googling when you should say i love you to a partner and how to tell if it was love. and that just made me feel even more sad and defective, so i quit it. the only other “serious” (read: committed? i guess) partner i had, i liked SO much more even though we were together for much less time and were much less physical and spent much less time together. he was one of those people that i met - i remember this from the very beginning - and i knew that i had to get to know him. which was not easy because he was, is literally the most awkward human being to ever walk on this earth. and i always think that - if he didn’t have feelings for me - we could have been GREAT friends. like, forever. but. i haven’t talked to him in a year. almost exactly. or i did once - i sent him a message on his birthday but i accidentally sent it a week early so fuck me, right? i just once would like to experience that all encompassing moment of LOVE that is so obvious and vital and raw that it just hits you and you go down for the count. i mean, i honestly think that’s just sex in most cases so i probably won’t ever get it, but. we’ll see. sometimes i think about my ex - the one who i was maybe kind of in love with. he had this problem - he spent so much time making things awkward for himself that he was rarely genuine. which made me really sad. because i really liked him. and he put up some other thing of being uncomfortable and awkward and sarcastic and apologetic and it wasn’t him. and i wasn’t receiving any of the things he was doing as uncomfortable or awkward. i liked it. i liked him. i thought he was cool. he was the biggest dork on the face of the earth and i thought he was cool and i wanted to spend time with him and when he did something embarrassing, i wanted to punch myself in the face, but i still wanted to hang out with him. maybe that’s a beginning of love. i wonder this: what separates a friend from a lover? (there i go again using the word lover. i am not sophisticated enough to have lovers or use the word even, probably). i ask this question a lot, mostly to my close friends - which is kind of funny. is a relationship purely biological? is that the only factor? i have friends now that i have been close with since i was four years old. friends from elementary school, middle school, college...friends that i KNOW i’m going to be friends with forever. and i’m the kind of person that would only date someone if they were a person that i could be friends with because i like relationships, i like commitment, i like long-term things. so what is the thing that makes someone a potential romantic partner instead of just a close friend? because they’re both relationships of sorts. and my platonic friendships have all lasted much longer than my romantic relationships. but i don’t want to get physically intimate with any of my friends. why not? what is that? i wonder if you know or if you’re as confused as i am.

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