Romance This

Swept off her feet

The standard way to begin a post about romance is to quote a dictionary definition or some authority on the subject. That’s fine but pointless. It’s pointless because only one half of the population has any kind of grasp on romance, and that’s the half with a vagina. For those of us not so equipped, we can most charitably be described as delayed development romantics. Romantic retards, really.

Romance, to males, is that way of acting that creates a positive disposition towards us in the female we desire. The level of positive disposition will vary, naturally, from mild interest to unfettered lust. We hope for the latter, but accept the former. Whatever reaction we engender, it’s all an amorphous universe of trial and error with no clear rules and even murkier techniques.

Which leads me to an attempt to describe just how much of a mystery romance is to guys. We know there is such a thing as romantic behavior, which we think involves roses and candles. Somewhere in the mix is the notion of sweeping women off their feet, however one accomplishes that. Maybe romance is like an English period novel, full of meaningful glances. Perhaps we should aim for an Audrey Hepburn film-like experience on, for instance, a Vespa through Rome. By chance might it be all be about break-ups and reconciliations?

Arggh. It’s all so difficult, so tricky to pin down.

Here’s a thought: Guys, ask the question. As (at least) a dating conversation-starter, subtly inquire of your lady friend how she defines romance. Take careful note of the answer, and file it away for later. Let me know how that works.


Standard anti-marriage rhetoric often goes along the lines of “…well, it’s just a piece of paper.” As my co-podcaster, Kregg, says, if it’s just a piece of paper, then why not go get one?

We might need a different way of looking and thinking about marriage. One way to do this is to keep the dynamics of your girlfriend/boyfriend relationship. Being boyfriend and girlfriend is, if you remember, a terrific way of living. There’s enthusiasm, delight, discovery, optimism and fizziness in one’s trousers – all in all a good place to live.

Imagine a marriage that feels like you did when you knew you’d found someone special, when you first started being “girlfriend and boyfriend”. THAT feeling is a real high. Marriage can be that particular high. Just add commitment and formality.

Think of it this way: If we stop portraying marriage as an end of the fun and more as bottled lightning, look at how your thinking about it shifts.

And a shift is all it will take. Forget the media’s awful representations of marriage as either stale dullness or conflict-ridden desperation. Let’s imagine getting hitched as turning single pages into a book; converting running water into seltzer; tomatoes and cilantro into salsa….okay, I hope you get the drift.

Marriage is an opportunity to make and keep a product greater than the sum of its parts. All that from seeing it as an upward turn on a relationship continuum…not as a sinking ship merely to be survived.


Ah, rejection, the coupling world’s (most?) feared dating outcome. Rightly so, in my opinion, because when someone else discerns that I am not up to the job of co-coupler, there’s no message gap: I am unworthy, unlikely ever to find lerv. Sob.


But my reaction to rejection is determined by me, not the rejector. We all know that rejection is integral to life. The people we choose not to be with infinitely outnumber those we do, so the sooner we find some way to accommodate this, the better off we’ll all be.

Organ transplant recipients need drugs to prevent their bodies rejecting the foreigner within. In a sense, taking someone into your life requires the same kind of treatment, the difference being that instead of drugs we find intellectual and cultural ways around our differences. The fewer the sticking points – or the easier they are to bridge – the less likely is rejection.

What I’m trying to say is that rejection (or its absence) is good in two ways. Rejection gives us information that I am definitely not a match; non-rejection tells me that the other person doesn’t have to use big behavioral changes (drugs) to keep me around. That’s all worthwhile knowledge.

In our mind’s eye, the ideal coupler is someone with whom we can share time happily without modifying anything about ourselves. That’s a foolish notion, but we’re kinda sorta on the right path here…a good fit is just that – someone who has the right coupling DNA for our own.

So reject away. But be careful to know that we reject everyone in some way.

Talking About Sex: Podcast #16

Men talk about sex in the same way they talk about their fears, which is to say not at all. Here, with some sweeping generalizations, I redress that. But I am afraid to tell you how.