Last night at dinner (ok, fine – DRINKS) my friend asked what we considered romantic. Without hesitation, I replied: “Surprises. Being thoughtful. Remembering something minor that is important to the other person.” My friends sat there and looked at me like “wow, you really think all that?” Which made me pause: Do I? And the more I’ve actually sat and thought about it, I think if I were asked this question again I would simply reply “making an effort.”
Yes, sometimes it *is* that simple.
Since I was young, my Mom always advised me to play the traditional ‘girl’ role and "let the guys come to [me]". Not bad advice, and actually, more often than not, how I initially proceed in matters of the heart. And yet my guy friends have continually chastised me for being too passive in a relationship, and not telling the guy what I want or making it clear to them that I’m interested. (Note that this is regarding only the public nature of my relationships; what goes on behind closed doors is off the record.) Basically, they accuse me of expecting the guy to read my mind if I’m less than overtly pursuant. So, heeding their advice, now and again I’ve taken their approach and have been more direct, initiating contact and suggesting plans. Every time I do this, it’s literally PAINFUL and feels contrary to everything I know, but let’s face it: my normal MO hasn’t yet chalked up a stellar significant other, so why not shake things up a bit? And so I do, and in this experiment-cum-life that I lead, I find that it’s been met with mixed responses.
Let’s examine this. I don’t consider myself traditional in most of the ‘common’ uses of the word, but when it comes to relationships – however fledgling – I think I am. I’m not a passive person by any means, nor do I lack the confidence to make the first move if I wanted to. But I’m a firm believer in gaming theory (aka, men are the pursuer/women want to be pursued) and any variation from this theory makes me doubtful, at least in determining the relationship in question’s long term potential. Loosely related to this are the theories of “long term relationships don’t start by meeting at a bar” and “nothing lasting begins with sex on the first date” but we all know exceptions to these – and every – rule, so I tend to concentrate on the genetically proven one instead when making this argument.
Basically, there’s something inherently attractive, after all of these years and spanning all of these species, about the thrill of the chase. Yes, eggs are genetically ‘costly ‘and sperm are ‘cheap’ but there’s something more. Deep down, we’re attracted to something that isn’t easy to attain. It implies worth. The easier something is, the less effort one puts forth in attempting to attain it. Add in centuries of traditional gender roles and we’re left with a society telling women to do one thing (read: be pursuant) yet – more often than not – rewarding them for doing the opposite. Face it – we’re stuck between a progressive rock and an evolutionary hard place.
So where does this leave us? Back to my earlier statement: Romance – to me – is as simple as making an effort. The way I see it is if you like me, you’ll want to spend time with me, plain and simple. Because if I like you, I’ll want to spend time with you. Certainly not every day, but now and again. Probably even often. In brief, I’ll make an effort, and make sure you know I’m interested. I’d hope you’d do the same.
Dating isn’t easy. But it sure isn’t as complicated as we’re all making it.
*With all due respect to Avril Lavigne, as well as everyone who thinks my musical taste has evolved more than this. You’re right, and I apologize. But it fit.