Myth of the Modern Romance

What kind of self-sacrificing and cruel world is it that we live in that peddles the myth of true love and happily ever after?  Maybe I am just getting cynical.  Perhaps a little self-analytical.  Whatever it is I am increasingly uncomfortable with the romantic myth.

I speak as one who believes in romance, true love, with hearts and flowers and deep emotion.  However, I can’t help but be worried when I see a beautiful, talented, clever, funny woman doubt herself, doubt her worth because the man she loved behaved in a way that hurt her.  His attempts at kindness were in fact just a salve to his own guilt and he has ended up destroying someone who he once loved.  I know, she will get over it.

It made me think of the myth, the star-crossed lovers.  We, the hapless audience, know they are meant for each other, their destiny is clear.  Yet somehow there is some miscommunication, a falling out, an asteroid strike.  The lovers are separated.  Maybe they believe that their love cannot be.  Maybe one behaves in an unspeakable fashion.  Perhaps the other one overreacts to an innocent situation.  Things happen, paths twist and turn, there might be a 2-D, obviously flawed, red-sweater wearing substitute for a while.  And yet, at the end of the day, they manage to get back together and then cue the soaring, romantic violins.

From Jane Austen, via Hollywood, to Jilly Cooper, a thousand Mills&Boon and untold soaps and series we keep being fed this idea that true love will out.  Does this just encourage the hopelessly deranged, fools for love into believing that somehow it will all work out in the end?  Their Romeo is merely playing out a scene in a well-worn script and will return, post-haste before the poison takes effect, and All’s Well That Ends Well?

Instead they end up with poisoned lives, waiting for someone who is just not going to come back, hopelessly going round in circles trying to find out where they failed, what went wrong, how they could be cleverer, thinner, taller, prettier whatever it might take to win back the affections of their intended.  Maybe this will have some positive outcome in the long run.  The new dress/haircut/hobby might help them move forwards and find someone else.  However it seems that it takes months, years even, for the romantic diehards to find the point where they no longer have a Joni Mitchell yearning soundtrack to their every decision, event, moment.

I speak as someone who is part of this pathetic and tragic band.  More or less, and with good humour, I am aware that I am pining for him.  Even as I do it I recognise its futility and pathological insanity.

I’m aware my belief in an infinite capacity to love affects what I do, because while on one level I want to challenge him to explain what went wrong, why there is no future, where I failed*. Alas, I am terrified of losing the friend that I might have.  The qualities that endear him to me, well they still endear him to me.  And, as I have an infinite capacity to love, I can accept that he does not have any romantic inclinations towards me and still enjoy his friendship.  However I am aware of the cataclysmic effects of telling a former beau that you still really very much like them like that.  So when counseled to, “tell him how you feel, you’ve nothing to lose” I am aware that actually, in fact, I have the companionship, and company, of a very special and unusual person to lose and that my life would be the poorer without that.

All of which is nearing rational, except that I have the meta-notion of the romantic story-line underscoring the back-drop of my life.  And I can’t help but think that if only we cleared the air, if only I made him understand, if only I were clever, thinner, stronger, wittier or whatever it would all be okay and we could try again.

At which point I want to tear my hair out because the meta-story is not a true reflection of real life and it will not happen

So please, all peddlers of truth in the guise of fiction, while Jane Austen makes it clear that Lizzie Bennet will get her man, real life does not work like that.  Please stop brainwashing us into believing it does.

Interesting that Will-the-bard didn’t have a terribly positive view of romance…  Maybe I should have been reading Shakespeare rather than Austen…

*yes, I’m well aware that I didn’t actually fail.  Lord alone knows what did actually happen.  I do know that it wasn’t (all) me and it was never a test of worthiness.  Despite how I sometimes feel.

Apologies are due at this point.  Firstly to you, dear reader, for the profusion of italics and secondly to the very-wise-friend who spends a great deal of time trying to convince to pull my socks up and get on with things.  I am actually listening…

Author: ishtaricat

Wierd, wired and wonderful. Bakes bread and cakes, knits hats, goes places and is getting all graphic...

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