I'll be 22 in the spring. Don't worry, this is NOT a post about me complaining about my relationship status. Related thoughts, though, just can't help occurring when you're a twenty-something-year-old female with female friends. Topics like marriage (ahhhhhhhhhh) just seem to inevitably crop up. The scary thing is, some of my friends want to get married around 25. Allowing a year for the engagement, that gives us less than three years to meet someone, get to know them, realize you want to spend forever with them, AND convince them/find out that they feel the same way about you.
I get tired just thinking about it.
The truth is, I have so little experience in the romance department that I have no freaking clue what I'm doing or what to do. This past week I've made some pretty big self-discoveries regarding what kind of guys I fall for, what I'm looking for relationship-wise, the difference between a casual crush of mine and a serious one, and so on. But I still feel like I'm, I dunno, Lewis & Clark or someone like them, plunging down an utterly unknown river, swollen with spring runoff, with only a flimsy low-grade plastic paddle in my hand to fend off alligators and loose logs.
Usually when I need help I often look towards books first, but lately that's just been frustrating, because books always seem to, well, romanticize romance. Somehow, some way, things work out, usually with this big, swoony scene at the end where the guy confesses his love to the girl or the girl admits to the guy that he was right about her, and they kiss and everyone's happy, the end. And how about all those books that have enviously smooth "getting to know you" romantic progressions, eh? The first encounter goes well, the love interest continues to approach the MC, there is no doubt in either of their minds that they like each other. When in real life (or my life, at least) it usually goes: initial encounter goes well, subsequent encounters are much more ambiguous (does he/she like me as just a friend, or as more than one? or do I not even cross his/her mind at all?), until eventually you are suffocated by a plague of uncertainty and confusion.
Where is the doubt in YA romances? Where is the ambiguity of interactions? Why is there a sad lack of examples that could give me any sort of insight into the way "real" romances progress, at least in my opinion?
I know, I know, I know that in telling a story--whether it be entirely fictional or your own real-life tale--one tends to emphasize the good points and deemphasize the bad. And as a reader we are also relatively passive observers with the benefit of an outsider's perspective to the very things that so confuse us when we're actually participating in them. You know how in movies there might be this big misunderstanding scene where neither character says what they truly mean to one another, only they don't know that, so they both think that what the other is saying is how they're really feeling, and then they turn away and the camera shows them making a miserable face at how much it just killed them to lie to the other person like that? Yeah. We're the audience, so we get the benefit of this camera view and get to see the true feelings that the other character doesn't see.
I want to be that "me" audience member for my own life. Maybe then I'd be able to figure some things out.
Or maybe I simply watch too many of those kinds of movies.
It's also becoming clearer and clearer to me that I don't want to waste time with relationships that I don't think have a chance of lasting. It may sound harsh, or too cynical, but I believe that I can tell pretty early on in my acquaintance with someone whether or not I feel like a hypothetical relationship between the two of us has a possibility of lasting. That's one of the big things I realized last week: that I may be attracted to a number of people, but that doesn't mean I necessarily want to date them. I'd rather be contentedly single than be in a casual relationship for the sake of, I dunno, having something to do on the weekends or whatnot. I'm not actively looking for The One, nor am I unhappy that I'm not with him yet. I approach things very pragmatically, but believe deep down that eventually, sooner or later, but most likely later, and maybe even a lot later, I will find him. I've watched too many Disney movies and read too many romances to not believe in the idea that maybe, just maybe, I will find someone who likes all of me, who can challenge me intellectually, and who can inspire me to try to make each day the best I've ever lived.
It seems that so many authors and bloggers I know are either happily married or otherwise in wonderful relationships that seemed to have had fairy-tale beginnings, or courtships, or whatever. Can I ask you if that was really how it went, though? Did you have moments of doubt and uncertainty as to whether or not your partner was the right person for you? How did you know that he/she was The One? Who initiated the relationship? Did your own love story unfold like a standard YA romance, or did it have its tough moments, stuff that never gets told in the stories? Are the romances you write into your stories reflective of your real-life experiences, or are they more wish fulfillment? Where, I guess, does the inspiration for those fictional romances come from?
I wanted to save these questions for closer to Valentine's Day, maybe even make a feature out of it (who knows? I could still do it?) but they have been weighing me down for quite some time now so I thought I'd just put it out here.
Peace, love, and happiness, as always.