Wednesday, November 27th, 2019

I stopped pursuing romantic relationships over a year ago. I appreciate what romantic love can bring to people’s lives. I see the rewards of sharing your experience with someone else. Beyond the affection and platitudes, romance seems to bring purpose and fulfillment into people’s lives. I choose to say the word romance because my life is full of love. The ancient Greeks had 7 different words for distinctive brands of love, none of which are exclusively romantic, all of which I believe to possess somewhere in my life. I have always been surrounded by supportive friends and family, that is something that I am incredibly grateful for.

Additionally, I have had a few romantic relationships that were loving and supportive but ultimately fizzled out into tattered memories. I know that this is something that is currently missing from my life, but it would be dishonest for me to say that I’m really concerned about it. Being in love is not the same as falling in love, falling in love is not the same as being loved, and being loved is not the same as loving others. All forms of love are not mutually exclusive, true love is an amalgamation of these distinctive states of love.

While true love escapes most people, there are a select few that seem to find it. It really comes down to a matter of sheer chance and luck. Finding a symbiotic relationship in the ecosystem of romance is a daunting task. I’m under the impression that these relationships are best formed organically. Maybe I don’t have the chops to seduce someone with a Tinder profile, swiping through the proverbial meat market of emotionally available adults. Something about the process of online dating seems so manufactured and superficial that I have little interest in pursuing it. Playing the dating game would statistically improve the chances of meeting new people but in an artificial way. I’m not knocking anyone who uses these platforms, I applaud your confidence and initiative. I am just acknowledging that the kind of person I would want to invest my love in would ideally also see through the veneer of the algorithmic matchmaker.

Logic would dictate that I should engage in more social activities. Giving myself a chance to get out and meet new people. While I agree that this would be an ideal way to gain visibility, I dread the awkward encounters and conversations that are inevitable. Approaching acquaintances with romantic intentions seems desperate. Yet, this is how most romantic relationships begin. Maybe I’m incapable of conforming to the new dating standards. Even if I choose to follow that route, I likely won’t adapt quickly to the unpredictable nature of new relationships. The inevitable rejection and confusion would also disrupt my fragile confidence. I tend to overthink things; relationships are not an exception.

Here is a dilemma for you philosophers out there. If I must love myself to be capable of loving others, then doing things that depreciate my love for myself would also inhibit my ability to love others. If awkward rejection and relationships that end without closure detract from my ability to love myself, then I will perpetually be incapable of loving others, which will further deplete my love for myself. Ouroboros, the snake that eats its own tail. I’m on a downward spiral to single town.

This is where I find myself today. Rattled with regret and some confusion about past relationships, trying to improve myself, rebuilding self-esteem and confidence, and overanalyzing every step along the way. If the adage is true, I must love myself before I can love anyone else, then I must accept that I may already have enough love for myself. After all, loving yourself does not necessarily mean loving everything about yourself. With that in mind, I have to ask myself, “is it really worth the effort”? I guess that is yet to be determined, I could very well wind up falling in love and changing my trajectory in life. I could be soaring through the clouds or drudging through the mud, but at least I would have someone to share that experience with.

Despite my fractured understanding of romance, I still appreciate the love that others have and share. I imagine it like seeing an alien museum exhibit; flowing red curtains retract to show a young couple laughing and reaching into a box of fries at a McDonald’s booth. The speaker in front of the roped-off exhibit crackles and comes to life with a low-fidelity recording that says something like this:

“The courting rituals of humans are a complex dance between sentient beings. Mating rituals include the sharing of food, communal grooming, and social posturing. Humans are capable of falling in love with one another as a result of common interests, mutually beneficial personalities, or shared traumatic experiences. In this display, the male and female humans grew their bond through sharing fried tubers. Neither of the humans on display understands what is in store for their future, they simply take pleasure in each other’s company without questioning sustainability or intentions. They do not know what lies ahead for them; they simply understand that they are on this journey together. For them, that is enough.”

The spotlight dims, leaving the human wax sculptures silhouetting the artificial backdrop. The droopy red curtains roll shut, and the moving walkway carries me to the domesticated animal exhibit. 

If only this concept weren’t so alien to me.

-Nobody

6 thoughts on “Rethinking Romance

  1. Good writing! God loves us when we are unloveable in every way. I think seeing yourself and others in light of His view changes love into an action and a choice. Also, can you fall in love with someone with a couple of kids? We need cousins.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The basis of love is appreciation. I know it can be hard to appreciate what you have when you feel depressed. Depression isn’t an aspect of character that you have to accept, but a treatable illness. I was misdiagnosed with depression for decades when I was actually bipolar. Anti-depressants didn’t work for me but, following the correct diagnosis, a mood-stabiliser did. I cannot get the time back – or the relationships – that I wasted by refusing to see a psychiatrist. I notice you haven’t written anything since this post. That’s a pity. Please rejoin us. You’re a great writer.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Take my advice with a pinch of salt, but my gut is telling me that romance and love is something that unfolds naturally. At this stage in my life, I honestly believe this. I think it just sort of happens, when you meet that special someone that makes you feel something inside, and they just so happen to like you back. I tried online dating – total waste of time. There’s no point in going on date after date with people you don’t have chemistry with. Far better, in my opinion, to let romance unfold naturally in the social circles you frequent. But that’s just my two cents.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Although I agree with you entirely about online dating, being nearly 30 does change the dating demographics. Most people near my age have children or past marriages. It’s hard not to feel overlooked. I agree that organic relationships are ideal, they are just harder to come by. Thank you for sharing your advice, it is definitely how I feel things should go. I just haven’t had that experience much in my adult life.

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      1. Hmm, I see, I see. Well, I’m also of the opinion that romance and love, while tempting, only actually brings a temporary happiness. Actually, everything on this planet brings a temporary happiness. I feel content on my own, but that’s probably because I’m religious and believe in God, who provides an immeasurable peace. Either way, I wish you the best and I hope that all things turn out well for you.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I was brought up with a Christian background. I believe that it helped shape my empathy and sense of justice. I’m not religiously affiliated any more but I have immense respect for people’s spirituality and beliefs.

        This is an off-topic question, are you at all interested in becoming pen pals? I would love to be writing to people all over the world. I think that it would be entertaining and enlightening. Let me know what you think.

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