Although one doesn’t like to give the Daily Mail too much credence, plus the essence of this article is that Mills and Boons might actually be killing our loves lives….I feel I might have to make the case for the Daily Mail today. On top of that, some of you may know that I’ve been writing a feature about people who have ‘not found love’ for another national newspaper and its raised some interesting questions about the way we approach our love lives in the 21st century.
We live in unusual times. Most of us look at the relationships that our grandparents and our parents had and we aspire to the same thing, never really taking into account the fact that our circumstances, our very existence on the planet earth, particularly as women is a different proposition these days. Older generations of women had to get married. What was the alternative? Women didn’t have careers. What were you going to do? Stay at home with your parents for the rest of your life. I think not.
I’m not saying there wasn’t romance; nothing says romance quite like the black and white movies of my mother’s generation. I’m just saying that people were motivated by different reasons to pair up and start families. It was harder to separate too. Until the early 1970s it was nigh on impossible to get divorced. Fast forward 30 odd years and people are still getting married and divorced just as quickly. Why? Because they’ve realized that sticking together is not easy and being ‘in love’ is not always enough. It’s a challenge. At which point I feel I must hold my hands up and say what do I know? I’m not married but I do have eyes – and my own experiences to draw on – and this is what I have observed from my parents marriage, my friends marriages and my own relationships over the years. I remember thinking only too clearly as I broke up with my boyfriend of 5 years in my twenties that love was not enough. Losing him was like cutting off my arm but we didn’t have the nuts and bolts, the dynamic, the guts and gumption, whatever it takes to see us through marriage, babies and a lifetime together and I knew it.
I think that finding real love is as much to do with finding someone who is prepared to put up with the shitty times, as well as the good ones and to be frank, not many of us are. Most of us are seeking an ideal that doesn’t exist. Committing to love is a conscious decision, not some random wand that gets waved by the magic love fairy. Mills and Boons, by peddling notions of ‘romance’ probably haven’t helped the cause. Ergo, on this occasion, I think the Daily Mail might be onto something.
What do you think? Do we have unrealistic ideas about ‘finding love’ – and keeping it - these days? Or is it possible to find ‘The One’ person that is the ‘perfect’ fit for us? More to the point, is finding love and the concept of partnership the be all and end all of everything? Can we live happy and fulfilled lives without it or at least enjoy our single time whilst we have it? Some people think so. I’d love to know what you think, mail me on firstname.lastname@example.org
In the meantime, here is a man with a rather large love shaped dilemma. If you thought it was only women who worried about meeting The One, you would be wrong. Welcome Mr Perfection, a man who wants to save himself – and his virginity - for ‘the right’ woman. I point this out in my book but I’ll say it again. This sort of exchange is fraught with difficulties. How can we know for sure who ‘the right’ person is? Do the parameters of rightness not change as we get older? It’s not a fixed thing. But then this, to me, is symptomatic of a society that is obsessed with the idea of finding perfect love and the sooner we let go of that and find something that just works - and makes us feel good, the better.
‘I took an interest in your website and, assuming I didn't miss it, none of the tales seem even remotely similar to my seriously awkward predicament.
I've always felt strongly due to my philosophy that life is all about sharing experiences with the right person and as a result, I wanted to save my virginity for the person I believed to be 'The One'. Years passed through school and 6th form without even a flicker of interest in anyone. I even thought myself to be asexual.
And then along comes Ms X. For 6 months we dated and we genuinely thought we were the ultimate match. But there was a problem. I'd grown a paranoia that I would mess it up and hurt her. So, scared and confused, I broke it off. I had mixed thoughts of regretting it and wondering about whether I'd made the right decision but in the end, I came to the conclusion that as much as I loved her, she wasn't The One. Because if she was, what would I be worrying about?
Enter Ms Y. Instant best friends with matching characteristics, ideals, pasts and likes. Feels like we've known each other forever. It's now obvious to me that this surely is 'The One' and that there wasn't a chance in hell that I'd find anyone I'd rather spend my life with. Only there's a catch. When I tell her about my feelings, she makes it clear that she doesn't want a relationship with anyone full stop. She felt the two choices boiled down to lover ending in disaster or best friend forever. Of course I chose the latter and decide to simply bide my time and act when I'd gained her full trust. After all I'll have an amazing friend in the meantime.
Re-enter Ms X who tells me I'm still The One to her, and much as I'd like to say the same, I can't. I explain the situation, saying that I didn't want to take her for second best, as that's not fair. She says she just wants to be with me and make me happy, which in fairness I know she would, but with the nagging feeling hanging over my mind that I'd given it away to the wrong person. I'd regret that for sure. Also I can't help but think about the situation where Ms Y becomes available again. That would be messy.
Dilemma: save virginity for The One, who may in fact be unavailable forever, or give someone that truly loves me what she wants. I can't decide whether or not it's worth it to save it anymore.'