I read a lot of books – I don’t limit myself to any genre either. Recently, I’ve been going through a lot of the classics. And the more I read these books and become infatuated with the characters and their relationships and courtships, the more I feel doomed. My future boyfriend, whoever that may be, is set up for inevitable failure. Because he will never compare to Levin in Anna Karenina, or Jay in The Great Gatsby, or Florentino in Love in the Time of Cholera, or Noah in The Notebook (I never actually read Nicholas Sparks but you get the point). And before all these ladies start going crazy, I consider myself a feminist. I’m absolutely not saying that I need a man to make me happy, or to take care of me. A man will never call the shots in my life, and will never manipulate my thinking or my desires. I’m independent, I’m resourceful, and my existence will never belong to a significant other. Yet just because I want equal rights among the sexes doesn’t mean I still don’t crave true, full-blown romance. And I would be very reciprocal during this relationship as well. I will be equally head-over-heels and romantic and thoughtful and observant and unpredictable. But I expect it to be there.
There’s just something about old-fashioned romance that I crave. I really am convinced I may have been born into the wrong time period. Although I would have a very difficult time living in an era when women were seen as dependent, hysterical wimps, I still long for how these old-time characters throw themselves into a whirlwind romance, much of the time without knowing each other fully. These men obsess over their true loves day or night; they lose sleep, they forget to eat, they cannot focus on daily tasks because their love utterly consumes them. Not to mention they write long, beautiful letters confessing their captivation every moment they get. The things I would do to just receive one love letter rather than a text saying something juvenile and passive like “You’re a cool person.”
I desire someone as observant as these men are too. They’re in blissful agony over the simplest movement, the brush of a stray curl, a fleeting glance. Men in these novels seem to swoon after being smiled at by the one they love, and manage to fall in love even harder. And another thing about these men is that they are completely aware of their intense and consuming feelings, yet they’re never ashamed. They’re not embarrassed to care about a woman more than anything else in the world. During that time, they weren’t considered “whipped.” It was just how it was.
Nowadays, I feel like everything goes unseen, unobserved. I want a simple gaze of mine to stop someone’s heart. I want someone to find it impossible to sleep at night because they’re counting the hours to see me again. I want their heart to be so full with love it feels as though it may burst. I want the touch of my fingers on their forearm to fill them with uncontrollable ecstasy. I want them to gaze at me the way Gatsby always gazed at Daisy.
Gatsby labored tediously until he gained a fortune, lived in a mansion ideally situated so he could watch her house, threw ridiculously extravagant parties, with only one person in mind: Daisy. He didn’t let anything get in his way until he got to her, until she knew how he felt. He could care less about other women; in fact, in Gatsby’s world, there were only two types of women: Daisy, and everyone else. He was so in love he was actually convinced he could relive his past with her. He was surrounded by the most amazing parties and people in the world, yet he only cared about what she thought, how she perceived it all. I want that. I want to be incomparable in my man’s eyes. I can’t imagine a guy now putting in half that effort to win back someone they lost years ago. Love in the Time of Cholera? Florentino confessed his love to Fermina when they were teenagers. After she ended up marrying someone else, he waited 60 years until her husband died so he could confess his love again. I’m not saying I necessarily want someone to wait around for me for that long, but in the end for them, it was worth it. He never married because he reserved his heart for her. He wanted no one else, because no one else could possibly compare. Any book you read by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the romance is tangible, beautiful, and enviable. The way that these men become so transfixed and caught up with these women makes me sigh with dissatisfaction.
It may not be so much my ache for old-fashioned love, but my repulsion at the type of love that exists today. Yes, people still have beautiful relationships and undying passion for one another, but the way that we pursue, and fall in love, and the way that we struggle to stay in love is unattractive to me. There’s something about these incredibly romantic relationships that seem permanently out of my reach, as if they were left behind in the past forever. Now I’m stuck finding men slurring in bars or sending dick pics on Tinder. And of course there is today’s game of who can care less — whoever shows the least interest is the winner of the courtship. We have to “forget” to reply to texts for hours so we don’t appear to be too available. We have to act uninterested whether or not they’ll be out where we are, even if we’re dying to see them. I would much rather be up front with my feelings and make my intentions very clear. I’m advised by girls not to look too desperate, too interested, or else it might turn them off. But if a guy is really turned off by me voicing my hope to see them out that night rather than acting completely indifferent, than that guy is just not for me. I don’t have time for some bullshit game of beating around the bush.
How can I ever expect to find someone who is on my level in the least bit? I really don’t expect grand gestures regularly. I don’t expect dramatic declarations of love. I don’t expect to be respectfully courted for years. I’m not high maintenance and I’m not needy or demanding. Even Ted from How I Met Your Mother could make me gag sometimes. But I expect to be loved the way that the men love these women do in these novels. I want them to be consumed, entrapped, intoxicated, from the unwavering, infallible love that they feel, and not be afraid to show it.
Which is exactly why I’m doomed for romance.