confessions of an ex-romantic

What do you get when you take a romantic idealist, extraordinary circumstances and a series of disappointments?

Everything that comes in a bouquet dies, no matter how much pruning or watering you do to it.

Everything that comes in a bouquet always dies, no matter what kind of pruning and watering you do to it.

Over the past few years, I have come to the resolution that waiting for someone to be my better half is not only futile but foolish. It is absurd for me to sit around expecting someone to walk into my life and deliver a fresh bouquet of happiness. Everything that comes in a bouquet always dies, no matter what kind of pruning and watering you do to it. And while this may seem like the words of a pessimist or a cynic, these are also the words of someone who can turn this entire situation into something positive.

But before I explain that, let me start from the beginning.

statistics and studies show that the love-based marriages that all Americans are rooting for are not better, and in some cases, they may be worse.

...statistics and studies show that the love-based marriages that all Americans are rooting for are not better, and in some cases, they may be worse.

All of our lives, we are inundated with the idea of love and marriage. From fairy tales, television/movies and literature. Even the medium of the internet is being exploited by sites like eHarmony and match.com, urging people to become members in order to find love. But the concept of marrying for love is a relatively new development in human history. Until recently, marriages were motivated by politics and business. Make no mistake, I’m not making an argument for arranged marriages but statistics and studies show that the love-based marriages that all Americans are rooting for are not better, and in some cases, they may be worse. Nowadays, getting married comes with the given understanding that there’s a 50% chance that it will end in divorce. I don’t know about you but that is a huge risk to take.

Now, at this point, some of you may be going “life is about risks” or “have a little faith” or even “you can always get a divorce.” That’s just not good enough for me. If I am to get married, it will most certainly not be a risk; it will definitely be a sure thing; and divorce will never be an option. Why enter into such a serious commitment knowing that you have doubts or if you have an exit strategy? That is not a marriage; that’s something with which you are passing the time until something else better comes along.

Vanessa and Nate from The CW's Gossip Girl

While in circumstance, I might be more like Vanessa, the free spirit born outside of Upper East Side society, my Nate may never come.

So I bet I am sounding more and more like a cynic. On the contrary, I am a romantic. Like other people, I get that warmth in my chest when I think of growing old with someone but that’s just it: I want to grow old with someone; I don’t want to gamble. As much as I like to think that I’m Serena van der Woodsen, with her preppy yet hippie chic tendencies, I’m not. Serena has Dan who, despite a number of break-ups, always comes back. That is definitely not me. While in circumstance, I might be more like Vanessa, the free spirit born outside of Upper East Side society, my Nate may never come. And every minute I spend waiting for him is a roll of the dice that always comes out snake eyes and I’ve got more than my money to lose.

So this is how it becomes positive: I grow up. I outgrow all of this romantic idealist conditioning that we all experience from infancy and come to terms with the idea that I am my own person and I make myself happy. No other person can give that to me and I should not expect anyone to. I am forced to look at my life and decide for myself what makes me happy: my spiritual journey, my family and friends and understanding who I really am. 

Rather than trying to see that particular societal ideal be reflected in me, I am choosing to break the mirror and instead, I am putting myself together.

Rather than trying to see that particular societal ideal be reflected in me, I am choosing to break the mirror and instead, I am putting myself together.

Now am I being negative or a defeatist? Surely, those faux-romantics may read this and think that it may be too much of a hassle to get involved with me. To this I say, whatever happened to “take a risk” or “have a little faith”? I’m not completely dismissing the possibility of finding someone. I am merely saying that it is not my life’s purpose to do that. Simply put, if it happens, it happens; if it doesn’t, it doesnt. I’m devoting my life to those who are already around me. Rather than trying to see that particular societal ideal be reflected in me, I am choosing to break the mirror and instead, I am putting myself together. And that is definitely not a gamble.

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6 thoughts on “confessions of an ex-romantic

  1. I don’t think you’re a cynic; I think you’re a realist. I agree that most marriages based on love alone are weak; it takes much more than that to sustain a strong relationship: trust, honesty, integrity, and empathy are a few virtues that come to mind. As a snot-nosed, know-it-all teenager I often thought that marriages are very similar to a business or financial contract. My opinion on that hasn’t changed much.

  2. spoken like a true cynic. haha kidding.

    so my apartment will be close to your work. please feel free to come and interrupt my studies. we can crack up about trivialities such as grammar and misspellings.

  3. I think you are right on here with your comments about “idealized” etc… M. Scott Peck wrote about romantic love being sort of nature’s way of tricking us into “falling in love” and making babies (otherwise the whole enterprise-and all the work and sacrifice it actually entails- would probably be way too daunting)… Ken Wilber too speaks about being “caught” in (as you say “idealized”) romantic love…
    (from transcript http://aqalicious.gaia.com/blog/2008/2/turquoise_shadows_transcript_of_a_conversation_with_ken_wilber)
    “But keep in mind the last thing to say about it is, depending on whether you take the perspective of the shadow or yourself – your proximate self – the shadow is by definition attached to the thing that you are detached from. So you’re repressing the shadow, the shadow is attached to what you are repressing. So you can think of it that way too. Every time you change a perspective it looks like it’s almost the opposite of what it is. As I said in No Boundary…if you really want to get a good idea of what your unconscious is feeling or thinking right now, just take any person or any thing or any event and get a good sense about what you think about them, and then assume exactly the opposite of that, and that’s how your shadow feels. So if you think you love your mother, your shadow hates her. If you think you hate somebody, your shadow’s got a secret hard-on for them. And so on and so on and so on, I mean it’s pretty straightforward.

    Arthur: But you could just have one type of feeling towards someone and not the opposite, couldn’t you? Are you saying that if I have a certain feeling towards anyone or anything I also in my greater self have the opposite?

    Ken: Well, in the total self the answer is almost always. If you’re madly in love with your girlfriend, if you don’t have a little bit of orneriness about it, you go, “You know, I love you, you old bat!” you’re going to get in trouble. You’re caught in romantic love, and there’s a shadow out there that’s going to knock you silly sooner or later.

    Anyways,,, i think the solution is to be aware of this dynamic… not get caught in idealization (recognize the ever present shadow opposite to the romantic idealization that so easily occurs)(via biology/via culture etc etc)… Ultimately, as far as love goes i will again come back to something Ken Wilber said somewhere about going first (surrendering to/immersing ourselves in)(meditation/contemplative prayer) to the Infinite Source Love (God/Spirit) and THEN, immersed in that BIG Love giving that love to all… then we are not to make a relative contingent self (our beloved’s in this world)(ie your boyfriend, husband, children, friends etc) be our source of love but instead we are sourcing ourselves in the Source itself and from that BIG Love magnifying it to “others”… the relative world is just too contingent, impermanent etc for it to work the other way around (to seek love first via attachment to relative people/things)…

    If we all do something like this (recognize the shadow and also source ourselves or find our love in LOVE first and then give it to all) then i think relationships should be able to work just fine…

    another point that comes to mind is M. Scott Peck speaking about (I think in “the Road Less Traveled”) love being (after breaking through the illusion or finding disillusionment with romantic love) a CHOICE… Lets say that despite our efforts to contact LOVE as SOURCE that sometimes we still just aren’t feeling it… Then we can CHOOSE love… to do the right thing… the good thing… the loving thing… the responsible thing…
    In correlation with this, Roger Walsh, a very astute psychiatrist (and good friend of ken wilber) speaks of “doing good to feel good”… Maybe we often have the wrong notion that we will want to wait to feel good before we do good (whatever good this might be… ie studying, cleaning, helping others, getting things done, meditation, contemplative prayer, service) but actually doing something is one of the strongest “cards” we can play to change our state (not waiting to feel good to do but doing good to feel good)…

  4. Pingback: ororo munroe, will you marry me? « eeburrah vision

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