When it comes to romance, I’m bitter. I’ve seen my fair share of loving relationships, mind you, it’s just I have yet to truly experience the kind of romance I have seen other people have. Most romance is a performance, but do not misunderstand me for a total curmudgeon, I am in love with love, I have a passion for historical romance and heroic love stories, only problem is — they do not seem to exist in the real world. I liken romance to a mating ritual men and women perform to convince the other that they are worthy of love, but it’s really just a plea for sex, not for a relationship. Girls grow up believing we will have fairy tale romance, the kind where real men all act like heroic princes and treat us to a happily ever after. But when we become women and fall for the charms of romance, we find out men only act like princes and the happily ever after turns into a one-night-only play. The “for real” romance some women have is rare. It’s like a special event, like a Sweet Sixteen surprise birthday Holy ceremony Wedding anniversary event celebrated between only two people, happening only at random and sometimes displayed in public to show everyone that the union between the partners, without any formal occasion, is awesome. That I can understand. But the whole act of romance intimidates me.
I want to believe in it, but I can’t. It just never happened to me. The boyfriends I had were not into it, and when they thought they were romantic, they really were not. It seemed like the only person who knew how to be romantic was me. I had dreams of romance that never came true and the only way I would ever get them was to ask for them. Yet, what was the point when the guys who supposedly cared for me already had me? They no longer had to try to win me over. When I was romantic, I felt the fool.
When a man once asked to marry me, I thought it would be a grand event, but it took place in a mosquito-infested, muddy little patch near a pond next to a highway where our make-out sessions were rudely interrupted every few seconds by semi-trucks roaring by. Just before he proposed, one trucker hollered, “Fuck ‘er!” It made us laugh, yet gave me a sour knot in my stomach. We walked deeper into the woods, meanwhile getting more eaten alive by mosquitoes, and I wanted to get back to the park where we started from, where there were nice places to relax and reflect. I did not mind that we were in the woods, I just wanted to get away from the bugs and mud. I got clumsy, nearly slipped, and when he caught me that’s when the question came, and that’s when I sank to the ground. Was that romance? Did it happen without my notice? Even though my answer was ‘yes’ it still did not feel like it ‘fit’ into the category of the kind of romance I was longing for. I wanted something… more.
Almost a decade later, when we were no longer on the road to marriage and far from the days when we dated, I would witness him treat women far differently, using techniques and advice I gave him. It was like watching my dreams being given away. I did not want him back. Our life goals were different and we discovered we were not compatible, still it left my heart sore, and I wondered if I had given up all my chances at romance because I had literally given away my ex. It was true. Even at his sister’s wedding, when I caught the bride’s bouquet and some girl tore it out of my hands with greedy rage, and after people asked her to give it back to me, I saw how clearly it was more important for her to win that symbol, so I gave it to her. “You should not have done that,” my ex’s sister hissed, “that means bad luck!” It was a superstitious warning: I would never get married.
But all of that happened when I was only 20 years old, and the next 21 years men would teach me a lot about relationships, and I would teach them how best to treat other women. I thought I turned from fool to a wise priestess.
I am a Witch, so naturally everyone requests love spells and love potions, both men and women always have love on their minds, they want to know how best to win the love of their life, and I have made close to a lifetime’s worth of advising the lovelorn. Have I always been successful? Only for those most willing, sincere, open, selfless, and who put aside any notion of manipulating another person they know into loving them back. I do not know any love magic that has worked for myself, however, and any love predictions given me have never come true. I believe this is because I have hit an emotional block when it comes to love. Or perhaps… perhaps I am *gasp!* cursed! No, I take that back. I’m kidding! Yet people can curse themselves with bad luck by not believing in the possibility that they can encourage romance into their lives.
Maybe I am one of those women who denies herself the possibility of romance.
I am most used to bringing romance into other people’s lives. I like to play cupid! Valentine’s Day I have personally renamed Valentina’s Day because people sometimes assume I was named Valentina because I was born on St. Valentine’s Day. Instead of hating times when people celebrate romance and love, I decide to give in and take it up as my special day. If I am alone, so be it, I will create romance for my own self. Even on days when it is not Valentine’s Day, I will buy myself roses and fill my home with the sweet ambiance one would reserve when they expect a visit from their lover.
I have a lot of friends who are men. Because they are not attracted to me, they feel comfortable asking me questions about women, and I’m all too willing to talk about our romantic differences, seeking out more information about the opposite sex myself, hoping to discover how I became so defective at romance. Most questions focus specifically on why more women do not appreciate romance and what is it they are doing wrong when it comes to attracting women. I do not think I am the right woman to answer that question and yet I need to answer that question because I take romantic overtures as a threat!
I have one very horrible reason why I have trouble dating… I was sexually assaulted on a blind date, a casual acquaintance who was very charming and romantic, the perfect guy that my friends thought was right for me. This is the first time I am revealing why I fear dating. I do not like it when a man I do not know, or even one I know only a little about, comes on to me and/or asks me on a date. I panic. I turn down the offer. No matter how cute the guy. I would rather bungee jump than go on a date with someone I do not know. I do not invite any man I have just met into my home. I do not go home with a man I have just met. That’s how they take advantage of you. They charm you out of your better senses. It scares me out of believing that romance can lead to love. The only way I can date anyone is to first get to know them and that may take a month or two. Most guys are impatient. They take that as a sign I am not interested. But that is my personal story. Other women have it less hard.
The questions men ask intrigue me because I wonder why they are having a hard time when it seems like they have it much easier, they have busier social lives than I do, and approach other people so openly, without a care. Several of them casually date, whereas the ritual of dating is a horror story for me, and I envy the friends I have who go out and hook up. I do not know what it is like to date anymore. I don’t have a normal social life. Men who somehow manage to break through to me have not been keen to becoming my boyfriends. I could just as easily ask them why it is men do not appreciate my efforts to please them. A woman should not do all the wooing, yet I won’t get anywhere when there is no real dating, right?
I put some thought into this, into why women do not appreciate romantic overtures from men. First of all, women are smart and sense when they are being had. No woman worth her smarts wants to waste her time on a relationship that will go no where. If she knows ahead of time that the man making a romantic effort is a flash in the pan, she won’t bother to invest her emotions and time in him. She does not mean to insult a guy, she’s just looking out for her own heart. Most women are not into temporary relationships, yet more men are. Men can more easily have a consequence-free affair, but women have more to worry about because they can get pregnant. A fling is rarely regarded as romantic, too. Women who are into one night stands, like men who are into the same thing, don’t want an emotional attachment, so romance is something reserved for a love involvement. Purely sexual relationships are like eating a good meal, romance complicates things.
Secondly, romance is often considered insincere. We don’t forget that it’s used as a superficial ploy by some men to lure normally inhibited women out of their panties. If I woman is more reserved, she’s that way for a reason, be it for religion, health, or simply because she’s holding out for a long-term relationship. A man handing out candy and hearts and whispering sweet nothings could very well be just playing, and if he’s someone she does not know at all or not well, no amount of romance is going to win her trust, especially if she’s been burned. Sometimes it is part of the game for a woman to play hard to get to keep his interest, not to torture him, but to make sure he knows that she is not the type who is easily seduced. She wants to show him that she is faithful and worth the wait. His charms do not go completely unappreciated, the appreciation is temporarily suspended.
Besides the obvious fact that it could be she just is not interested, the third reason is a man putting on a romantic act is trying too hard. When it’s seen as desperate, you are going to turn off the person who you are begging to impress. I should know, I do this sort of thing without realizing it sometimes when I am making friends and trying to get attention from my friends. I believe romantic men whose efforts go unappreciated are as lonely as me. When we sit back and grumble about why we go unappreciated, we create bitterness and that only builds this dark cloud that will rain on our future attempts to attract love into our lives.
Perhaps women and men do not know what romance really is because we are given the wrong blue print at childhood. We read the fairy tales and were inspired by the heroes who won over evil (and won the girl) and wanted to be beautiful damsels who magically turned into princesses by just one kiss from a stranger. We want to rescue and be rescued, or screw that and just rescue each other from the dragons of despair and deceit. We go on quests and do all kinds of stupid stunts to gain each other’s affection and raise our swords and scream “PICK ME!” We tell each other what we think is the pathway to our hearts, but I feel like it all leads to disappointment, we cannot live up to our heroes, because they are ideas, they are not meant to live up to reality. Romance is not reality. We have to create something else to replace our old notions of romance…
Romance is not the way to the heart. Say good-bye to it. It just does not work. Reality is better than romance. Be for real. Write a new love story. Redefine romance! The reality of togetherness is far stronger than romance. Give me dedication and devotion over the fine trappings and temporary glamour of romance. I want to wake up in the morning and go to bed without someone pestering me with constant pretty reminders of love — those are for those who do not worship love. I do not believe romance is the glue of togetherness. But woo me all the time, nonetheless! Togetherness does not come out of romance. Togetherness happens when there are no questions or doubts, when it just is there and there is no denying it, only the having it, when hearts agree and stick together under any circumstance, existing long past any predictions of not making it. Is that my true definition of romance? The very thing I am missing that no one has given me? Even without it, I make a shrine to it, I hug it, and will never give it up. No matter how many times I’m given excuses. No matter how many times I’m told no one can provide it. And no matter how many times men tell me I’m wrong to long for it, I see it in the eyes and arms of lovers who last, and even if I do not ever find my togetherness, at least I prayed it everyday.