Life gives no guarantees, no carbon-fibre-clad promises, no surety of anything apart from the proverbial death and taxes. As much as we desire a path that avoids the very worst disasters, shit, as they say, happens.

Romance and coupling fall squarely in the sloppy mid-zone of stuff that can fall one way, or the other, or no particular way at all. Our intimate relationships with people can make for a great life, or be the ruin of us or oscillate between vague happiness and undecided dissatisfaction – of all human pursuits it might be the most uneven.

I think the misunderstanding comes about from taking Hollywood’s version of coupling as some kind of standard. I’m a cynic about this, because movie and tv producers’ motivation is firstly commercial, and latterly political. If they can make money by appealing to our desire for glossy happy endings (for us) or horror relationship stories (for bad people), they will exploit that to the max.

If we want happy endings (whatever that means, but generally conflict-free, fully engaged, prosperous, united and happy relationships) that’s what they’ll show us. There will be minor hiccups, but they will resolve with minimal effort.

What, then, are we to do when in real life we can’t even get beyond meeting people who might vaguely mesh with us? What if the hi-def screen process increasingly represents a vision of life with another that is a parody of our own lives in which low-energy dating that goes nowhere is our norm? Will this state of muddy affairs ever resolve?

A start might be some brutal self-examination. Would I date me? Am I an attractive prospect? Is my state of mind one of clarity and honesty when dealing with people? Am I wounded in ways that require more healing? Sometimes the best answer is that dating should be a much lower priority, if only because another failure will take us down another notch. Self-repair is a wonder of nature, but it takes time and energy. Success comes to the successful, a truism of the very worst and very best kind.

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