Thursday, 13 February 2014

The Lost Art of the Heart

Hello, beautiful people! Today is the 13th of February, and we're coming up on that most loved and lauded holiday, Valentine's Day - also known as Singles Awareness Day to some of us; so, I want to celebrate the occasion with something lovely. Last Valentine's Day, I did a post about romance movies, films which you can watch and enjoy with your significant other. This year, I want to do another helpful post.
But since last time, I was single and I was giving advice to couples. Well, this time I'm in a couple - here's looking at you, Beloved - so I figured I could give some advice to single people. They're so often left out on this day, so I'm going to give some advice, to the people that need it the most.

I recognize that there are some people that feel fine being single, or at least they're very good at pretending they're fine; pretending that they don't cry themselves to sleep every night when really they're slowly rotting away on the inside, screaming slowly and silently for true love to find them while outside they exist as the husk of a human being, a puppet that pulls its own strings like a möbius marionette, acting like a human being despite the missing pieces, outwardly displaying the affectations of happiness, while inside they're truly contemplating the benefits of buying a dozen cats and neglecting personal hygiene and . . . sorry, I lost my train of thought.
Anyway, I'm saying that today is all for you lonely singles, looking for love yet can't seem to find that special someone. And even if you're not single, I think this information is useful to everyone, because my advice ties directly into a word that has fallen into disuse in this modern era, and I feel like its loss is a detriment to the world of dating. The Word of the Day is: 'WOO'.

Woo /wū/ v.t. 1. To seek the favour, affection, or love of, especially with a view to marry; court; pursue; chase. 2. Cultivate; to seek to win: To woo fame. 3. To invite (consequences, whether good or bad) by one's own action; court: To woo one's own destruction. 4. To seek to persuade (a person, group, etc.), as to do something; solicit; importune; petition; sue; address; entreat; butter up. ♦v.i. 5. To try to win another's love, usually a woman; court: He was reminded of his youth when he went wooing. 6. To solicit favour or approval; entreat: Further attempts to woo proved useless.

The actual word I wanted for today was "COURT", but I might want to talk about law or the legal system one day, so I'd want to save that particular word for that occasion. However, the ways in which I use the word court are the same way that people use the word woo, so I hope you're not bothered if I use the two interchangeably.

Anyway, back on topic - So, how can I help out you singles? Well, dating is hard. Do you even know where to meet people?
That's not rhetorical, I mean that as a legitimate question (answer in the comment section, if you've got a good answer). Because I don't know anywhere good. Everywhere that is culturally acceptable as a place for single people to meet one another, is a venue that serves alcohol, and I don't think that's conducive to finding your true love. If you want to meet someone, inebriation and sensory deprivation is, at best, a hindrance. I've been known to say: You won't find your a spouse in a nightclub.
But, once you do meet someone, what do you do? Because from what I've seen, people just find a stranger and enter into a commitment after you fall for for this stranger, based on looks; then get to know them and you spend a few months of your life with them & if they're incompatible, you break up, get heartbroken, waste a month or so feeling sorry for yourself and then try again in this vicious cycle of:
Find Stranger > Date Stranger > Test Compatibility > Break-up > Heartbreak > . . . rinse, lather and repeat until you find true love. Some people like this method, since after a while, it does work, you just have to try long enough until you either settle for someone, get sick of it and stick with someone you despise or get horribly depressed.
This may seem like a laugh; "Isn't Dating Weird?" is akin to "What is the deal with airline food?", but this is serious business, and it's not unheard of for all that heartbreak and stress leads to depression, it's part of the reason I fell victim to depression. I couldn't much take all these games of the heart, it was exhausting. So, we've found our problem, what's the solution?

Well, allow me to introduce you to a new concept, or should I say old concept: Courting.
What I hate about dating, is that it's dancing on the edge of a knife. There's already enough pressure, since you're looking for someone you want to spend the rest of your life with, and it's ripe with risk, yet I keep seeing people become "girlfriend/boyfriend" before they even know one another. They don't get to know one another first because they're worried about falling into the Friend Zone, or just because that's how society tells us to date.
But how is that clever? Only ever dating people after you've made a commitment to them. Then there are so many games that people play and there's so much risk involved (and potential heartbreak).
Well, wooing them kind of cuts through all of this bullshit. Basically, you find someone that you're attracted to, I don't care who - male, female, cisgendered, otherwise and what have you - this works across the board, because there's no trick to it. My only suggestion is, this works best with mature people, especially if you've dated or felt love before, because then the two of you will understand why this method is preferable.
So, anyway, instead of saying "I fancy you, will you go out with me?", basically, if you know they're single and you find them attractive [and sexually compatible, like hetero-, homo-, what have you], you just let them know that you're single & that you find them attractive. I, personally, find that the best method is to flat-out tell them "I'd like to court you" or "You're a really beautiful/clever [person], and I'd like to know you better" but the ball's in your court, and this works best if you're being true to yourself and to them.

Okay, I should probably mention, this won't be easy. I've only had one proper girlfriend, and she turned out to be perfect, so I haven't had the opportunity to test out the many subtleties of courting; but, basically, you should tell this person that you're attracted to: "I fancy you and I'd like to get to know you (perhaps you can get to know me) without commitment; so that we can find out if a relationship would be a good idea. Would you mind?"
You don't have to phrase it like that, if you don't want to, but the key point is: Make your intentions clear. There's this thing people talk about, the Friend Zone, and that is basically when you fall for someone and they don't fall for you and so many people are scared of falling into that trap. But what do you expect, if they don't even know that you're keen on them? Subtlety is great when it comes to assassination and farting in a lift, but not romance.
Also, if you're like me (since I get quite nervous around beautiful women) you might find it stressful to approach someone that you fancy and solicit their company with the pressures of potential partnership over the horizon, and this solves a lot of that. This is just like you're testing the waters before diving in, it's smarter and safer. So, if you're keen on someone, let them know, and if you tell them you'd like to court and they don't find you attractive, well that's job done. Move on. Don't get caught up and turn into a stalker; I tried that, and it doesn't work.

But if they're cool with it, you can then start wooing the lovely lady, or gentleman as the case may be. Basically, the courting period is like flirting, but more informative. You figure out all the important questions that you'd otherwise have to find out after the fact:
Do/Have you take(n) drugs? Are you vegetarian? Do you want kids? Are you the member of a cult or religion? (Be honest now) Are you a serial killer? Have you ever been affiliated with the persecutions associated with Nazi Germany or its allies? What kind of music do you like? What are your plans for the future?
You know, the usual stuff. But at the same time, it's not all business, because you still get to flirt, to tell her she's sweet and beautiful, or tell him that he's strong and tall or whatever. I consider wooing like a form of proto-dating, you're doing this stuff together, but there's an understanding that you know this might not work out. However, once you've spent a long enough time around one another and asked all the relevant questions, you should be able to figure out if you're right for one another. Because either you'll be arguing a lot and making a mess of things, or you'll be getting along swimmingly and you'll find yourselves agreeing and having fun together most of the time.
It's hard to explain, because details will vary from person to person and it's probably a lot harder than I'm making it out, I'm not saying this will solve the dating problem for everyone, but it certainly did for me.

When I first met my Beloved, we were only friends who'd met to talk about writing fiction; we were just buddies really, although I knew she was really intelligent (something I look for in a partner). Then, when we each learned what the other looked like, we were attracted; however, we were worried because we were both unsure about starting a relationship, so we courted instead.
I got to tell her she was beautiful, and when you're lonely, you sometimes forget how good it is to tell someone you fancy what you genuinely think of them. She would tell me I was clever and we'd also laugh together and have a lot of fun, with honesty and passionate discussions about film and literature. All the while, we were learning more about one another. As time went on, we just kind of fell in love with one another, naturally [this was over a period of about two months]. It wasn't a forced coupling of two people who had just met, the more we slowly learned more about one another and had fun together, the more I fell in love with her, and she with me.
Finally, I told her (in these words, more or less): "This courting period was fun and all, but I genuinely feel my heart-throbbing in my chest whenever we speak; I know that I want more and I'm hoping you do too. I love you, [Beloved]."
After a little while that felt like a whole lifetime, she said that she had feelings for me too. And the girl I call Beloved has been my girlfriend ever since.

I'm not going to lie, this "courting" thing isn't perfect (nothing is). There's still a bit of posturing and games, because you're allowed to be sweet on one another, and you're sort of advertising your own abilities within a relationship, but you can't be too forward and you should be doing what you can so that you don't get hurt, there are still social conventions involved (because they're not your girlfriend or boyfriend, yet). Also, it might not work out, as I said, this worked for me on the first time, really, so I don't know what's the best method for dealing with that; but so long as you're honest with one another, then I imagine that this will come as a natural separation, rather than a break-up.
This is the solution to the problem of "dating is too complicated" not a solution to the problem of "I'm lonely and single", I can't guarantee this will work for everyone. But I wanted to share it with everyone, because . . . well, it's almost Valentine's Day.
Perhaps you'll spend this Valentine's Day as a single person, but you needn't next year! After all, it's "Single's Awareness Day". So be aware of those other single people around you, and if you find someone else that's lonely on Valentine's Day, and you find them attractive, why don't you approach them? Strike up a conversation, talk about how you're single and feel lonely on Valentine's Day, and maybe you could even try wooing them, and suggest trying out this cool "courting" idea. Because you never know . . . you might just find a Beloved of your own.

I'm the Absurd Word Nerd, I love you all - I hope you have a great day tomorrow and until next time, I'm going to spend Valentine's Day with my girlfriend, because I love her more than anything in the world. ~~

2 comments:

  1. Wooing is most definitely not the same as modern dating, not with speed date sessions and sudden hookups as a young adult. It seems to be a delicate art that relies on mutual respect for the other, and a desire to not play head games like "hard to get". Buddy Valastro of Cake Boss met his wife in such a way, and they agreed to not play like that

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    1. The problem is that too many people think "we'll start dating, and we'll figure the rest out later," which works in theory, but in practice if the stuff they figure out makes them incompatible, then they find it to be a lot harder to break up a relationship.
      As for these games, "hard to get", "wait a week before calling" & "treat them mean, keep them keen", I've never understood it. Are they looking for a romantic date or a playdate? Because if you're genuinely lonely, then these games just make life harder. Love isn't a game, don't play with it.

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