What in the world is happening to the arc of my romantic growth? I seem to have gone from “All You Need Is Love” to “Don’t Stand So Close to Me.”
What kind of romantic flowchart is that for a supposedly evolving single adult male’s love life? And I do consider myself a romantic. This was reinforced by all the love songs, movies, TV commercials, my parents’ loving relationship, and by many dry spells wishing I had a loving relationship.
Of course, when you’re alone, you look around and it appears as though everyone else in the world is in love, except you. All the other animals on the ark are in pairs -- except you, the sole pig -- Porky, party of one.
So when, after years of no dates, bad dates or simply wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am dates, I meet someone who has life partner potential, I hold on tighter than Donald Trump to a bad hairstyle.
I love you, I say. I want to be with you all the time, I say. Let’s get married, I say. I say a lot of things.
At first, it’s just like in the movies. There’s love and sex and caring and sharing and laughter and plans for the future. Picture soundtrack music by Norah Jones and Rod Stewart and Megadeth. OK, we get a little crazy one night.
There are fields of daisies and we’re running across them, in slow motion, toward one another, with arms outstretched. It couldn’t be mushier or cornier, but we don’t care.
Other singles are envying us. “Be strong,” we tell them. “We were you once.”
Flash forward. A few years. A couple of kids. A few conflicts. “I want you” has been replaced by “Are you still here?” “Do you realize we’ve been having sex for six straight hours?” has been replaced by “Do you realize we haven’t had sex for six straight weeks?” And “I just love all your little quirks” has been replaced by “That sound you make when you sneeze makes my skin crawl.” Being together day after day sadly loses its luster.
Flash forward. Counseling. More counseling. Divorce. Mediation. Married couple becomes two single Porkies again. Dating. Periods of no dates, bad dates, wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am dates.
Finally, I meet someone who has life partner potential. Wait a minute. This is starting to sound familiar. I try to remember the TV show or movie that’s reminding me of what’s happening -- until it occurs to me that it’s a rerun from my own life.
Will I be stuck in this Dante’s Romantic Inferno forever? Will this be my personal hell? My Vietnam? My Iraq?
Because of our work, children, pet and activity schedules, my new girlfriend and I can see each other only a few times a week. But each time we do, it’s like we’re meeting for that first time. We’ve had all week to miss each other and accumulate experiences and feelings to share. We’re not together every day. We’re definitely not living together. And we’re both fine with that. Really. We each value both our time together and our independent time apart.
I remember many of those fairy tales we read as kids ended with: “And they lived together, happily ever after.” I suppose for some people that still holds true. But for myself and many others, it’s: “And they lived apart, happily ever after.”
Mark Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.