Vail Daily column: The game of love | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily column: The game of love

Benjamin A. Gochberg
Valley Voices

I will guiltily admit that I’m in a perpetual state of surprise when it comes to my romantic relationships. Perhaps it’s my disciplined and conscious faith in the goodness of people that has rendered me this way, but I prefer heartfelt surprise over the “I told you so” embittered reassurance of cynicism.

I want to clarify. I realize that my above comment makes it sound like I just went through a breakup. That’s not the case. The truth is, nothing definitively negative has happened to me in regard to my love relationships during my adult life. Some of you who know me well will chuckle at that previous statement, but I mean it sincerely. I think I’ve probably had experiences that would be considered par for the course. I won’t bore you with details, but I’ve loved and lost as you likely have as well. I guess what surprises me most is that the relationships I have had ended with so little fanfare, like a candle that just burns itself out. I always supposed that the end of a love relationship would render me incapacitated or tear through my spirit like a forest fire. Perhaps the lack of these emotions reveals more about me and my past relationships than I’m comfortable to address in public. Tell you what, let’s table that for a private conversation sometime.

I woke up a few mornings ago to realize that Valentine’s Day was upon us once again. I’ve intentionally outgrown what used to be a pin-prick reminder of my solitude and exchanged it for a general agape of mankind much more befitting a mature adult. The problem with an agape for mankind is that you can’t take mankind to bed — at least not all at once. Not that that’s a personal priority or anything …

For all of us single people, I hope we do not feel so disenfranchised by love that we are not willing to consider the beauty of love itself. The giving and receiving of love, in all of its forms, is in my opinion one of the most important attainments of a life well lived. The trick, I’m finding, is to find a love that is returned with equal commitment, duration and transparency as you intend to give.

To all you couples and on behalf of us single people, please know that we aren’t necessarily lonely. We have friends. We aren’t sitting at home darning — not that there’s anything wrong with darning. We just wouldn’t mind finding more than a friend at some point.

After a few at bats, I think the general tendency is to become more hardened to the risk-taking required when it comes to love. We want to protect ourselves from the wasted time, hurt feelings and the rejection when things don’t work out as we’d hoped.

I’m learning that some people treat love like a high-stakes poker game. You hide your cards. You manipulate the bets and only put as much out there as you have to in order to illicit a return ante. You say what you have to say. You bluff. You protect your long-term interests by looking to gain a higher commitment from the other party before you go all in — and even then, if you played shrewdly, you don’t have to go all in to get them to go all in. You win, and by winning, you lose. I’m convinced it’s a recipe for disaster.

I’d rather turn up my cards right from the start of the hand. Sure, I’m holding an ace or two, but I’ve also got a few cards that don’t fit in the flop from time to time. Folks keep telling me that I should be more careful, that I’m risking giving away my chips. I think at this point I finally understand the risk, and frankly, I’m not too concerned about losing a few hands to people that desperately need to win. I’ll keep moving from table to table until I find the person who turns up her cards as quickly as I turn up mine.

In my profession, and in a few other circles, I’ve heard a saying that pretty much sums up the lesson that I think I’m learning when it comes to love — I’m looking for the person who’s looking for me. Until the two of us end up finding each other though, I’m going to keep asking myself if I’m the type of person who someone is really looking to find. To all of you single folks out there, good hunting. Maybe I’ll catch you at the tables sometime.

Ben Gochberg is a commercial lender and business finance consultant. He plays, lives, works and is trying to do a little good in Eagle County. He can be reached for business inquiries or free consultation at 970-471-3546.

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