Friday, November 14, 2014

Born in the Wrong Time: A Romantic’s Struggle through Dating in the 21st Century

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like I was born at the wrong time. Don’t get me wrong, I am so grateful for everything we have nowadays, like equal rights, TV shows, and indoor plumbing, but there are some aspects of the "old life"(the 19th century specifically) that I adore and am rather envious of. Not only did they have wonderful style (I NEED a reason to own and wear a hooded cloak!), but language was so beautiful then; people don't talk like that anymore, and it's a shame. But the one thing I probably envy the most is their romance.

Things were just so…different back then. I’d venture to say that romance nowadays isn’t just sick with the flu, it’s on life support. Sure, there were downsides in romance during that era as well, and as a feminist, I am more than happy that women now aren’t married off as property like they used to be or that people in general are not held to severe societal rankings that prevented under class marriages. But other than that, romance was alive, and in full bloom.

There's a wonderful quote I read by the amazing Emma Watson, where she said “I'm a feminist, but I think that romance has been taken away a bit for my generation. I think what people connect with in novels is this idea of an overpowering, encompassing love - and it being more important and special than anything and everything else.” I couldn’t agree more! I know many people that think these notions of romance are “silly” and “outdated”... I’m oftentimes told to “grow up” and “accept the way things are”, but I can’t! In fact, I refuse! Because the way things are right now is awful.

Romance in the 21st century, if you can even call it that, is so lackluster. Call me old fashioned all you want, but where’s the romantic spirit, the sentiment, the emotion? Where’s the charm? The whimsical poetic enchantment that once defined dating and relationships and love? And no, I’m not talking about impractical, unrealistic, foolhardy fairy tale notions either. But real ROMANCE. Not extravagant or glamorous or corny, but real.

In conversations, this is usually the part I hate when people scoff at me like I’m a child (I’m 26, thank you very much), and reply in mockery with something like “Ohhhh, you have to be wined and dined first?”, like somehow wanting romance makes me snobby or conceited or high maintenance. And somehow it comes back to the idea that if you’re a “feminist”, you can’t also want chivalry and romance. Well, I am and I do. And I can’t help but think I’m not the only one. When did relationships and love turn into a game? Isn’t anyone else just sick and tired of playing? 

There's such an emphasis on the physical aspects of relationships these days, that there doesn’t seem to be any room left for romance. Chemistry is an important part of any relationship, no doubt, but so are the emotional parts. And maybe to resuscitate the life back into romance, we need to demand a change. We need a more balanced approach to dating that involves less of the physical “hook up” and more emotional sustenance. After all, aren't we looking for love? 

It seems like taboo to say such a thing as a single female in her mid-twenties. In my head I've got this vision of being surrounded by fellow female pirates and they're screaming words like mutiny and traitor at me while shoving the tip of a sword into my back as I walk the plank. (Is that weird? I think the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack is on my study mix...) Well, I've gone and said what we're supposed to keep secret. *I'm sorry.* But it had to be done. 
As a self-proclaimed Janeite (a person/people who have a “self-consciously idolatrous enthusiasm for 'Jane' [Austen] and every detail relative to her”), there’s one thing I love most of all- the type of unchanging, unfaltering love that overcomes any obstacle in its path. The kind of love that’s like water, which at its most powerful, shapes and defines great canyons, but at its softest, cultivates the growth of delicate blossoms. Love that’s passionate and tender, merciless and gentle, coarse and refined- beautifully complex and rough around the edges and not perfect by any means but honest and true, even in its flaws. You know, real 'Queen Victoria and Prince Albert' kind of love.

It just seems like us hopeless romantics are on a sinking ship, trying to throw pails of water over the sides but never making any progress. I know our lives are not Jane Austen or Elizabeth Gaskell novels (if only!) but that doesn't mean we don't deserve romance! We just have to band together and demand a change. Like J.K. Rowling wrote, "it takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends," or you know, prospective love interests…