The reality of happily ever after.
Of all the things we perceive only subjectively, romance tops the list. There is no way romance can be perceived objectively. If it is objective, it is not romance. Whether we are directly involved or reading/viewing other’s narrative, it is always subjective. That is the power of romance. Only few feelings in the always-subjective perception category are healthy. Romance is one. It is healthy. But like all healthy things its nourishment depends on its usage. Romance cannot be perceived objectively but can easily be used so.
When we define a personal relationship as romantic, we attach a special power faucet to it. This faucet entertains an open validation, that is, anyone involved in the particular romance, partner, family, friend, or a viewer/reader/listener can influence the flow. Pivoting on this inclusiveness, one can feel replenished or drained. This is rather a risky control structure. We still take the risk because even in the presence of the external sways and supports, the final control is always ours.
When the adjective form of the noun ‘first’ modifies it, the feeling for romance intensifies. [I have mentioned it before but let me make it clear again that I am talking from an all-encompassing emotional view point.] ‘Firsts’ are assigned exaggerated values. It is not just the feeling that the romantics feel but also an ‘other-view’ that ensue the exaggeration. This other-view might sound objective but it is not. Although we can empathize but cannot feel extrinsic distress, we can easily feel extrinsic romance. The other-view feeling is not objective but it does get objectified. First meeting, first look, first kiss are so exquisite that they instinctively culminate in a customary togetherness — the inception of the happily-ever-after mirage.
There is nothing wrong with the open validations and expectations if we count romance as a part of living and not a spicy subject to pry. The ecstatic ways in which it is experienced or portrayed glides us away from its reality. Now, the combination of words life and reality automatically takes us to a gloomy ride. No matter how practical the harshness of reality sounds, it is mistaken. This misconstrued practicality adds up to the ecstasy. Because to escape the harshness it seems okay to be sedated by ecstasy.
Life is not harsh and romance is not a refuge. We can have all sorts of experiences but concluding life, that is being lived, as harsh can be detrimental. Romance is a significant part of living. If it is believed that living reality is harsh then there is no way romance can change it. Objectifying romance is the worst we can do with it. Romance is a natural, self-owned experience. Yes, it is natural if we don’t attach the rigidly ecstatic values to it. The deceptive ‘firsts’ of romance are part of those values. First experiences are not random. We can create them anytime we want to, even, or more so, with the same partner.
In the stories we show the struggle to come together. This rewarding formula runs on the exploitation of a collective gratification. A mental rut is created by shepherding that gratification to the tipping point of romantic firsts. This gratification has been habituated to a level that it steers the collective unawareness to a disturbing side. The gratification from the ‘firsts’ lacks surrounding awareness. It is obstinately narrow focused. In the shadow of that narrowness lurks the medieval banes of the firsts: objectifying female body, toxic masculinity, the glamourized liaison, ageism, child marriage and the disturbing dignity assigned to virginity.
Romance is the most beautiful of all personal relationships. It does not have the stiff obligations of blood relation or camaraderie. It is supple. It is delicate. Hence most powerful. We need to understand that there is no tipping point in a flowing process. There are no firsts in romance. Every day is a first if we perceive it to be. Every first is a part of the whole if we perceive it to be. Without the objectification of romance and the ancient bias for ‘firsts’ we can create a real happily ever after. The addictive satisfaction from the delusional existence of an idyllic togetherness keeps us hanging. We keep treading on the same mental rut as there is no real destination. From the tipping point of firsts we recede to the beginning. There is no other way ‘happily ever after’ can exist than being lived in. And to live in it we must create it first. A togetherness that is not satisfying but alive.
We must write new stories portraying the evolved romance. The kind that is not objectified but experienced by all genders, in all ages and all numbers not just firsts. Romance is the purest essence of personal relationship. It needs not to be preserved but to be experienced in every time and space. It can be the most effective learning. I hope we start educating romance to facilitate our collective awakening.