“Absence makes the heart grow fonder”

You’re probably familiar with this saying, and perhaps you’ve heard people both affirming and disagreeing with it.

Someone whose own personal experiences seem to contradict this saying might flat out claim that absence does not make the heart grow fonder. Another person with different life experiences might vehemently disagree.

But what if social absence does both things—or—both things happen in cases of social absence?

Perceptions form a lot of people’s experiences, and someone who disagrees with this saying might have incorrectly assumed that there was fondness either to begin or end with before the marked absence. The word “fonder” implies that there was a fondness already present at one or another time. So how can you grow fonder of someone if you were never truly fond of the person to begin with?

It would seem that fondness can easily be confused with something like fondness, or more like fondness, but that isn’t really fondness. For example, if we don’t examine the situation closely enough, the mild interest of one acquaintance in another due to a particular quality or characteristic that the other finds interesting; a feeling of comradeship due to one’s playing in the same sports team for a period of time; or a brief attraction between members of the opposite sex might be confused or misinterpreted for a genuine, heartfelt liking or fondness.

In another case where someone disagrees with this saying, the particular seemingly contradictory past event that he/she draws on might have involved a relationship, friendship, partnership or similar where fondness used to be present, but one that ended on negative terms. In such a case, there might be feelings of resentment cultivating a certain dislike for the other person and preventing any return to or growth of fondness. Also, there might not be any resentment, but the former fondness might have disappeared, due to such a negative development, and never returned.

It would seem more likely that the saying was originally meant for a more specific scenario where a strong relationship, either between marriage partners, family members or friends, sort of paused or ended on relatively positive terms for one or another reason.

Such a scenario might have been referring to a situation where a spouse, close friend or dear family member went away, either for an extended period of time or on a permanent basis; or the physical passing of a loved one.

If one of these were the original context of the saying, you might ask yourself: In which context/s do most people use this saying today? Or you might be asking: In what situation might the saying seem contradicted?

If absence plays a part in fondness growing stronger between people, it could also involve the opposite effect.

In a marriage, for example, it might seem more difficult to prevent that last one in a scenario where one spouse has temporarily gone away for an extended period of time. But if it were to happen, it would involve personal decisions on the part of the one so affected.

A notable case, in this regard, would be one involving unfaithfulness. Such things do happen in the world, but they don’t just happen. They involve willing participants who allow the situation to develop one decision at a time.

Another such case might not involve adultery, but a situation where the distant spouse has chosen, on a number of different occasions, for whatever reason, to not think about his/her spouse back at home.

Whether or not such a decrease in fondness were to occur through unfaithfulness, or otherwise mentioned, how much less likely would it be to go down one of those roads for someone who truly loves the other person?

In conclusion, following a marked absence, a fondness between two people can either grow stronger, weaker or stay the same (I suppose) depending on the specifics involved. When it comes to interpersonal relationships, decision-making is a very important aspect thereof. People are continuously making decisions, whether they be to act or not to act—in thought, deed or word. Such actions can be influenced by many different factors, but love—true love—is a powerful influence, one that, if present, would decrease the chance/s of one person ceasing to love another.