Provocative opinions aired on the clothes line of life.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Romance Intolerant

I’m always listening to my friends divulge hilarious anecdotes about their trials and tribulations with the opposite sex and the elusive concept that is romance. It’s a tricky business. Human beings are a complex bag of emotions and a fickle one at that. And while their stories range from the cringe worthy to just plain bizarre, they’re always left with the same resounding echo of uncertainty. Just what went wrong?

I’ve been seriously mulling this over for most of my adult dating life and think I might just have solved it. When I was younger, I’m not ashamed to admit that I led a pretty promiscuous existence and knocking on the door of 24, not an awful lot has changed (most people develop a certain level of maturity and restraint with age, but I have yet to acquire so much as a hint of either of those things). But one thing that has changed is my method of approach.

I was always of the opinion that in order to get someone to like you it was imperative to stick to the rules. The most significant being: nonchalance. I’m not saying I mastered it with ease, but for the most part I managed to maintain a decidedly uninterested approach when engaging with potential dates. In that, I would refrain from contact for days on end, often be rude and abrupt and sometimes leave dates early to leave them wanting more. I lived by the idea that appearing interested reeked of desperation and was eager to maintain the mysterious and cool persona, because anything less than that was considered irrational and psychotic - like most girls. And I didn’t want to behave like most girls. Of course this approach got me nowhere. Because in my eagerness to not appear jealous or demanding, I would find myself engaging with people just to appear powerful and superior in not feeling anything for them.

And so when I reflect on those early single years now, I don’t think that I was necessarily unhappy. I certainly wasn’t the type to go out searching for a boyfriend, because the company I enjoy the most is that of my friends (not to mention my own). But the Ice Queen approach certainly wasn’t gratifying and I ended up not knowing a great deal about myself, which is paramount before getting to know someone else.

Now, I know myself only too well. And I’ve realised that the more you hold back the less you know. Putting yourself out there is almost as humiliating as using the turn of phrase itself, but I highly recommend that you do. It’s good to get knocked back once in a while. In the long-term of course, in the short-term rejection feels like a vast obstacle which you’ll never overcome. But you will. Because as far as I’m concerned, when it comes to relationships there are no rules. A one size fits all method just isn’t logical.

But my advice, if you care to hear it (and if you’ve read this far, I’m sure you do) would be to not try too hard. Everyone has an innate talent, don’t force it, just let it occur naturally. I tried far too hard for years to appear emotionless, when I wasn’t. I got nowhere. At the same time though, don’t force yourself to be too emotional if you’re not. It’s about striking a balance. Which isn’t easy and only comes with practice. And how can you practice if you’re not willing to take a risk?

A friend who I’ve suffered traumatic dating experiences with for years, recently said to me,“but you’re so strong and uncaring about the way men behave, I always think of you when I’m trying not to be upset.” And what I’ll say to that is, it’s very easy to come across as though you’re not phased when you don’t have any feelings for someone. When I do have feelings for someone I behave just as crazily and irrationally as the best of them. I once rang someone at 15 minute intervals until they answered. Thankfully that person and I are still friends and have managed to put the awkwardness behind us.

Here’s another cliché: be yourself. How long are you expecting to hold on to someone if they’re not seeing the real you? It has to come out eventually. Not all at once of course. Just make sure your crazy behaviour resonates in a residual and gradual manner. By no means am I instructing you to lump it on them all at once.

Let me give you an example:

I have a friend (who won’t mind my using this anecdote, though I will be posting it to her Facebook later) she’s a very attractive, articulate and intelligent girl. In short she’s a catch. Suffice to say she receives a hefty amount of male attention and was once conversing with a potential date online. This in itself is a perilous endeavor, but she’s very naturally witty (far more so than I am) and was following the guideline of her usual effortlessly charming approach. He was rather keen in his attempts to secure a date with her and taking advantage of this she felt comfortable enough to make a joke, which she considered to be zany and kooky.

She accompanied the joke with an image of an orthopedic shoe.

Yes, you’ve just read that correctly. I can’t remember the particulars of the message, but I remember receiving the conversation via email and couldn’t reply for days, such was the depth of my amusement.
He never replied. So, it doesn’t matter how much of a super human you are in every other area because if your actions appear too contrived, rejection is highly probable.

And I say this with much love intended:

People don’t want to envisage you trawling through image websites for god knows how long, trying to find a picture of a shoe for people who have issues with their feet, to back up a joke which wasn’t even relevant in the first place.

Show your interest, by all means, but still maintain that you have other interests as well. I’ve lovingly named this blunder Orth-Gate and have been and still am a frequent perpetrator. (I wouldn’t say I’m proud of it, but I’ve made my peace with it nonetheless).

And if they reject you, at least you have something funny to entertain people with. These are called experiences. So, go, do, share, reflect. You never know, you might learn something.

Cinderella, eat your heart out.