When you lose a significant other, you also lose a pseudo-language

I really like Tom Ashbrook’s show “On Point” on NPR. I usually don’t get a chance to listen to his entire show, but today I did.

The topic was “American Love Stories”.

Author John Bowe and some of his friends traveled the country asking people about how romantic love works (or doesn’t work) for them.

They compiled their anecdotes and findings into the book “US: Americans Talk about Love”.

One thing Bowe learned from his project is that many lovers share a sort of “mystery code,” or code that others don’t understand.

For example, one man he spoke with said he and his girlfriend would stay up 30 hours in a row, working on a drawing, listening to music, and high on crystal meth.

They would imagine that the singer of the song they were listening to was right next to them, and they were on a stage.

They would start to “see” methane and oxygen and use their minds to create balls of magnetism. The man would direct them around the room, and the girlfriend would follow them. They played other “cool” games like that, too.

Anyway, Bowe’s point was that this code is truly special for a twosome. And that when a couple breaks up that code disappears with it.

That is a big reason why some breakups are so hard. It’s like not only have you lost a significant other, but you’ve also lost a language and understanding you’ll never have again.

No one will understand what you’re talking about when you bring up elements of your lost code. They’re just so hard to explain to someone who wasn’t there.

That’s why the man Bowe spoke of has suffered so much since his breakup seven years ago. He’s longing for the past while living in his mother’s basement on disability.

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