He’s So Romantic

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.

Our Common Link

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.

To Be Me, or Not To Be Me

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?

Continuum

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.