In a time of digital reproduction and near-perfect quality, relating to other humans appears increasingly anachronistic.
My iPhone updates with a new operating system as technology changes. Automatically. My personal operating system was cast at birth and set by the time I was seven.
Our cars tell us when something’s wrong, what it is, and what to do next. No-one even considers tinkering with them any more. Most of the time I can barely tell you what I’m feeling, and definitely not what caused the emotion, nor how to fix it. Every day is different, no one internal reaction the same.
Social media tell us who our friends are, why, and the last fast-food meal they ate. Everyone is neatly categorized and graded. I’m still wondering why my Grade 2 girlfriend, Jane Phillips, wanted to bring me lunch every day. It’s a mystery decades later.
A binary world of yes/no on/off outcomes is great for some parts of life, and not so good for others. Consider a computer-based romance. Such a thing would leave no room for surprise, or delight, or unexpected change, or anger, or the resolution of such a thing. Or direction shift, or kindness, or renewal of long-lost friendships.
Silicon romance lacks the chaos of biological romance. Which means that if we want real romance, we should probably learn to like the chaos, or, at a minimum, figure out how to accept it.
Like is more valuable than love.
Love, however, has more in your face PR, an enormous advertising budget and a long history of mythology.
We know who should win this battle, and who has won. Until now.
Your idea of romance and my idea of romance will be different. Romance is like one’s taste in food; we all like and need it, but my steamed branzino with cilantro and scallion might not mesh with your cheeseburger.
Herein some of the friction of dating. With the best intentions, I try to curry your favour with my brand of romance. It will succeed only partially, because we are all quite specific in our likes. Really specific, actually. And the likelihood of finding someone new who shares precisely the same ideas of what’s romantic and what’s not is small.
We can look at dating through this lens if you like. Dating is the process of gradually aligning our romantic ideals so that they fit together pretty darn well. Finding someone with the potential for this is our goal. As a simple test, it’s not a bad start.
The one dating experience most of us have in common is that we have exes. Ex-girlfriends, ex-boyfriends…unless you hit the jackpot with the first person in whom you ever took an interest, you’re one of us.
The other person needed to take a shine to you, too. Another club of giant membership is the un-reciprocated attraction club. My first teenage interest (Catherine B, if you’re out there, this is you) had precisely zero interest in either me or romance. Homework and her violin were the only loves she had, no matter how many mornings I met her at the school gate. With gifts. Ah, fifteen, how I do not miss you.
Failing to make something stick, and failing to get close enough to apply the glue; this is the true nature of finding couplehood. But human drive being what it is, all of our past history is as nothing when that new person happens along.
New. Interesting. Interested. These are the caffeine equivalents for romance.
Two schools of thought:
A. She should take me as I am. And like it.
B. What can I do to get and keep her interest?
Neither works in isolation. Any coupling will involve both of us modifying our behaviour, some more than others. Imagine two partially inflated balloons fitting into a chest not quite large enough for the two of them. That’s the mental picture to keep in mind. We’ll need to shift, change emphasis and here’s the word….accommodate the other.
Both of us need to do so. For a successful coupling, that is, my assumption if not yours.
In looking at A. and B. above, do you think is says more about the person concerned or his or her romantic interest? If I choose someone whom I want to accept me totally as I am, is that likely to work out well?
And if I choose someone for whom I will change as required, will that work out?