On romanticism

Recently, I got into a disagreement with a correspondent because they didn't like the idea that a relationship is like a business transaction, and I stated that that was the honest truth. I still stand by that statement.

Now, the reader could be forgiven for wondering how a romantic cupid like me could get away stating with such supposed heresy. The idea of having to negotiate everything in a relationship, as though you're negotiating your working conditions, appears so unromantic on the surface, so much so that many couples dodge such topics as pre-nuptial agreements (when, in my opinion, they shouldn't). So, what sort of cupid advocates that kind of exchange?!

Well, this one does.

I call myself a cupid because seeing people in a happy relationship makes me happy. The operative word here is happy. To me, it's not enough that a couple appear superficially to be happy; I'm too much of an idealist for that. A relationship is a happy one, in my view, when both parties are getting what they need from it.

See, I hate fairy tales. Perhaps that had something to do with the my upbringing, that I was never exposed to any of them; my mother was a very matter-of-fact person, never really about doing any make-believe things. For example, Christmas was for giving gifts, not having a fluffy figure descend upon non-existent chimneys (chimneys in apartments? surely you jest) to magically deliver your reward "for being good". In my upbringing, there were other "rewards" for being good, such as not getting yelled at. :-P

Anyway, back to fairy tales. The Ferret tells me that fairy tales are evil because they instil into little children this idea of happy-ever-after relationships that magically appear, and these stories never talk about the maintenance and upkeep that go into making and keeping a beautiful relationship that way. It's the biggest crock of bullshit ever.

The Ferret and I have a happy relationship, not because we're "lucky", but because we know from watching other relationships what mistakes and traps we must avoid (and a purpose of this blog is to discuss these), and we work hard to do the right things (ditto). One of the things we do do (which is no doo-doo :-P) is regularly discuss what we need, and work out ways we can fulfil each other's needs.

Really, I think the reason many non-negotiated relationships fail is because many of them are on totally different pages about what each party wants and expects of their partner. Nobody is psychic in a relationship! (The Ferret is psychic, but that's a different story.) If there's something you need in a relationship, especially things that you can't budge on, make sure it's sorted out before you commit. Seriously.

There's nothing romantic about all the these gorgeous five children you've dreamt about for the last 20 years, only to find that you're in love with someone who hates kids and would leave if you actually seriously brought up the topic of kids.

Just don't go there. Please, for the love of cupid.

Important things have to be discussed. Even if you both agree on the number of kids to have, I'm sure there are lots of other things to disagree on, such as what to name them, how to raise them and discipline them, what aspirations you have for them (lawyer? hacker? hooker?), just to name a small handful of items.

And that's just about children. What about what styles you prefer in bed, and how frequently? Which way to you put the toilet seat after use? How compatible are your spending habits? What about the Big Forbidden Topics, politics and religion?

Anyway, I've rambled on enough for now, but I just want to leave a parting thought: romance seldom comes by magic, or luck, or whatever. Most of the time, it takes hard work. Identifying and honestly discussing your needs, and having your partner do the same, is a large component of that hard work. (Being able to listen to honest feedback with sincerity is arguably just as big.)

The reward here is that, once you do complete these discussions, and realise that the person you're with does fulfil your needs, and vice versa, then, you're well on your way to having that successful, life-changing romance. That would make this cupid very, very happy.

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