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Romantics in real life
Why it sucks being one
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Trigger warning - don’t read this if you’re a prude. LOL.
From romantic novels to Disney stories and the-good-guy-always-gets-the-girl movies, ideas and myths of what love is and how it comes about live in our subconscious and no doubt influence our adult choices. Everyone wants their soulmate, butterflies, "the one," the love story.
It should go something like this. You bump into someone on the train, in the park, at the coffee shop, at a wedding, on a trip, at the airport… Something stirs within. You get a hint of something special. A gaze, a connection, a conversation… Suddenly, your heart skips a beat or two. You grow weak in the knees and feel that fuzzy, queasy feeling in your belly. You know this person is special. You can't get them out of your mind. OMG, you're falling in love with a stranger. With a stranger you know nothing about, but you think you want whatever they've got. You probably don’t know that psychologists tell us we are attracted to what’s familiar. So, this stranger has the potential to deliver the same kind of suffering you’re used to. But I digress…
They'll end your loneliness. Give you purpose. Brighten your days. You'll hold hands on sunset walks because sunsets are important for romantics. You expect passion and toe-curling orgasms! But also cozy nights in front of fireplaces because fireplaces are also important for true romance. So are paths through green fields, flower bouquets, breakfasts in bed, champagne toast, chocolate-covered strawberries, and anything with hearts on it. He will be your savior, smart, strong, and brave. She will be your angel, pure but also hot and wild.
Meeting each other can happen anytime, even if you are already with someone else, married, and with kids. Because true love knows no boundaries and conquers everything. True love is your beacon in the foggy, stormy, monotonous seas of life.
Sometimes, romantic love is tragic but worth it, they say. People take it so seriously no one's having any fun. Long sighs, emotional battles, strife, struggle, orbiting each other for a glance, promising eternal love, then someone dies. Or both of them, like Romeo and Juliette.
Basically, if it's not worth writing about it, it's not really romantic love! Hence all the songs, poems, novels, plays, and a few operas. Where would we be without true love, the romantic kind?
Probably at home with a spreadsheet analyzing compatibility based on specific criteria… It's an option. Don't laugh. People have done it and found success. Probably more success than anyone would like to admit. So much so that online dating sites like eHarmony and Match.com go the extra mile, asking people all sorts of questions to establish a profile and more successfully match them to others. But it only works if you honestly answer the questions and only talk to people who actually match you with a high compatibility score. But who's got the time to answer so many questions… and what if the best match is three states away? Plus, men lie about their height (adding on average 3 inches to their height) and income (adding on average 25% to it), while women lie about their weight (subtracting on average 15 lb) and their age (making themselves younger by about 5 years.)
You just can't trust what you see online, with all the beauty filters, smart camera angles, and all.
Still, millions of people look for romance daily, whether they admit it or not. Because everyone knows what a "not dead" relationship looks like vs. an "alive" one. They've seen the relationships of their parents, friends, co-workers, and strangers. Sexless, mundane cohabitation of two people asking each other what they want to eat until one of them leaves or dies. Too many couples forget how to have fun with each other.
They forget they started out staring into each other's eyes and eating chocolate-covered strawberries thinking they had found their soulmate. But you can't really blame them. Influenced by the ideas of romanticism, or more accurately "bombarded" and "brainwashed" by them, they mate unprepared for what happens after they move in together.
Who's doing which house chores? How much time alone does each require? How to deal with financials? Is it OK to leave dirty socks on the floor? Is the dog allowed on the bed? Who does the grocery shopping? The cooking? Which family to visit on holidays? Which relatives to avoid? To entertain or not to entertain? The list of considerations never ends, but it never gets discussed ahead of time because it's not romantic to do so, I guess.
In real life, romantics face three big compatibility challenges – values, vision, and lifestyle. Fox news or CNN. Career, education, adventure or family, kids, and school projects. Couch and TV or the gym and dancing.
And that's when things get interesting because everything is a negotiation.
But as a romantic, you assume your soulmate knows what you want. You expect them to do their part in making you happy because they love you unconditionally, and you are so special. That includes removing your wet towel from the bathroom floor and lowering the toilet seat without complaint. Romantics don't have room for pedantic concerns and logistics. Those are incompatible with the idealized version of the person they fell in love with. Romantics expect their partners to know how perfectly to make life perfect for one another. They expect an automatic and effortless balance of cozy comfort, friendship, and security with novelty, excitement, and passion. Never mind that these things reside on the exact opposite side of the continuum.
But life is cruel. Sooner or later, romantics feel annoyed with their partner, slam the door, stonewall, or start to ignore them all together until that which made them feel alive slowly dies, and all they have left is a roommate who helps pay the bills. Then they remember a high school sweetheart or crush on a co-worker or the barista in the neighborhood café. Surely, they think, their "real" soulmate is still out there. This annoying person who chews with their mouth open, falls asleep on the couch with crumbs of potato chips on their chest, smells funny, and speaks with a voice resembling nails scratching a chalkboard was a trickster who misrepresented themselves in the beginning. Or, more romantically, one outgrew the other…
Imagine how different life would have been if, instead of shooting up romanticism, you learned good interpersonal skills. Like, how to talk to the adults in your life you think are total idiots. How to express your needs respectfully and kindly even though you feel entitled and justified. Like, how to be there when needed even though that's the last thing you want to do.
Imagine what you would be looking for in a mate if you grew up knowing that relationships require very little not to die and a whole lot to flourish. You'd probably develop a good sense of humor and emotional resilience and look for the same in your partner.
If you are really smart, you'd ditch the romantics' notion of love and fall for eroticism instead. You'll know that you could have sex every day and feel nothing. But if you want to feel alive, you need eroticism, for it is the poetic context in which you and your partner exist. It's what weaves sex and your interactions into a satisfying togetherness story. Eroticism in a relationship is the quality of imagination each brings along, curiosity, playfulness, humor, grace, self-acceptance, novelty, mystery, and risk-taking. It's what makes you desire each other and life together day in and day out, years down the road. And this takes work and practice.
But, when people say, "relationships are hard work," that's not what they mean. They mean serious stuff like communication, sharing responsibilities, generosity towards one another, overlooking the bad parts and focusing on the good parts, etc. Sure, those are important but trust me when I tell you that you'll soon feel exhausted and quit. This kind of "work" on your relationship alone doesn't sound or feel fun. No fun, no bueno. But if you focus on eroticism, the rest will happen naturally. People resolve each other's differences and negotiate the logistics a lot easier when they are in a good mood and don't take themselves and their relationship too seriously.
Think about how much fun anyone has in a strip club. Not much at all. The women are there to take the guys' money. They think the Johns are dumbass and gross. The guys are there to stare at something nicer than what they have at home (potentially) but know the attention they get is strictly transactional… just like at home. Strip clubs are not fun, festive places where people joyfully frolic around. They smell of alcohol, sweat, guilt, and contempt. And it all happens in the dark with someone looking over your shoulder, waiting for an opportunity to toss you out the door.
On the other hand, a burlesque show is an eroticism at its finest – food for your imagination. With great music, bright lights, and happy dancing on stage, exotic and extravagant costumes falling off the dancers in layers with skill and charm, mischievous interactions, everyone performing embodies a playful, self-accepting character. As a result, the audience feels entertained, enticed, and excited even though they never see a butt crack up close and personal. If you look closely, most of the people in the audience are couples. Many come with friends. Many go home and carry the mood right into the rest of their lives.
You want your relationship to feel like an endless burlesque show, not a strip club. Bonus points if you make it a circus by acting like a clown performing great balancing acts with the ease of someone well-practiced and trained.
The payoff is more fun, more closeness, and more satisfaction in a relationship you can't get enough of.
Now, that's definitely an effort worth putting in.
How does your relationship feel?
Mine feels amazing! My dog Lulu loves me 😊LOL.
Thanks for reading.
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