Let’s face it – relationships are unbelievably complicated in and of themselves. Factor in technology, attraction, hookup culture, our need for validation, societal pressure to be anything but single – and relationships become almost impossible to puzzle out. It doesn’t help that the romance movies we’ve grown to know and love have taught us that relationships just happen – that they unfold spontaneously and require little to no work to work out. It also doesn’t help that the relationships we see all around us, whether through an acquaintance’s Facebook photo or on our early morning commute to work, only always manifest themselves as lingering smiles, intertwined fingers, and intense gazes that can so easily hide away the seeds of an impending breakup from the public eye.
Generally, relationships arise from one of two possible situations. If you’re “lucky” (or if you’re the protagonist of a Nicholas Sparks novel), relationships arise out of the blue by virtue of unexpected compatibility, mutual attraction, and a collection of other coincidences. Relationships in this category are often the by-product of two individuals spending a great deal of time in close proximity to each other, typically for reasons unrelated to any desire for a romantic relationship or any intention to generate one. Relationships in this category can therefore take years to materialize. However, they represent the kind that we see in fictional movies and novels, and by this token, they are the kind we most often envision ourselves in with intense yearning.
On the other hand, there exists relationships that arise out of blood, toil, tears, and sweat – those that are not “destined by the stars” and can be frustrating enough to prove that true love is nonexistent. Relationships in this category are viewed as goals – that is, they stem from an intention to build a relationship. Consequently, their prerequisites often includes dozens of first dates, dozens of rejections, dozens of poor first impressions, and every other challenge faced by the average online dater of the 21st century. Needless to say, those who find themselves meandering in this category don’t quite fit the criteria for the protagonist of a Nicholas Sparks novel.
Most if not all of us want to experience a relationship in the former category. We all want to experience the magic of a love that unfolds so naturally that neither parties have to put in a wink of effort. We all want to live the fictional romance that is love at first sight with a handsome, chivalrous gentleman or a breathtakingly graceful woman. We all want to believe that love will come knocking at our doors when the time is right.
In reality, however, love does not simply come knocking at one’s door. If anything, the kind of love that would try to insert herself into your life – what psychologists like to call “passionate love” – is not the kind of love that keeps couples resilient through hardships. Passionate love merely fuels two people’s desire for each other, manifesting itself as abrupt feelings of urgency for the presence and validation of an admired individual. It is the kind of love that comes to mind when we think of Titanic or The Notebook. And while passionate love plays a significant role in drawing two people together, passionate love on its own in inadequate in building the stable, loving, long-term relationships we all want at the end of the day – those that better us as individuals as we trek through the highs and lows of life, and those that sprout from what psychologists call “companionate love”. Unlike passionate love, companionate love is built with conscious effort – that is, the deliberate decision to commit to an individual even when the burning fire of the relationship is smothered.
So what does this all mean for you as someone who is seeking for a stable, loving, long-term relationship? It means that fairy-tale romance and chemistry are not indicative of a relationship’s outcome. Whether your relationship arises out of pure luck because you’re the protagonist of The Notebook, or out of hours of scrolling through online dating profiles, the truth of the matter is that all relationships require an equal contribution of effort from both partners to be stable, loving, and long-term.
In other words, relationships don’t always unfold in the theatrically romantic way we want them to. And whether or not they do is unimportant, because ultimately, what determines the quality of your relationship is the effort you put into selecting a partner whose values align with yours and the effort you put into maturely navigating the inevitable challenges you encounter with your chosen partner. Here at Vintage Matchmaking, we believe that this effort means abiding by your personal values while actively seeking out your better half. It means knowing that, while some first dates are going to be mediocre, many others down the line will be magical. It means coming to terms with your imperfections and doing something about them, be it attending our date coaching sessions or seeking out other unfamiliar experiences that will spin those imperfections into impressive impressions. It means being upfront and honest with your Vintage Matchmaker. And when you decide to invest this level of effort into your Vintage Matchmaking experience, you will surely reap the awards.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nicole Jessica Yuen is a Vancouver-born student with a fascination for human psychology and the importance of its appreciation in long-term relationships. Aside from human relationships, she is also hopelessly romantic about creative non-fiction writing, long walks, chai lattes, and ripe avocados (who isn’t?). You can check out more of her work at The One Project and at aimlesslycontemplating.com.