It’s amazing how complicated things can get. But deep down I still believe there are basic principles that can guide us if only we will give them the credit they are due. Today we’ll take a look at the simple matter of courtship. Simple in theory anyway. It’s when we’re in the throes of its spell that things seem to take on all manner of complexities. We’ll take a look at how it ‘should’ work, and then at how it often times ends up working out.
Part One; ‘How It Should And Sometimes Works’. This is what’s known as the ideal. The essence of our hopes and dreams. Rare as it may seem, there are times when the ideal takes rest here in the reality of our lives. All customs of courtship aside for the moment, in an ideal situation what you hope to see either for yourself or others is this; first a man and woman meet. Perhaps as strangers first, casual friends, whatever. There is then what we call the ‘mutual attraction’. Key word here is ‘mutual’. That means not only is the man interested in bringing this woman into his life, but the woman is also interested likewise. Mutual. If you remember nothing else from this article, remember the word, ‘Mutual’.
Next, being as how each person is genuinely curious, gentle and welcome offers to spend time together are made. There is no coercion, no manipulation, no ‘selling’ of one’s self.. merely the suggestion and the suggestion heartily accepted. Why? Because again, there is ‘mutual’ interest in both parties involved. Following this, if the attraction is still there after some time despite each learning that the other is every bit as human and flawed as themselves, the desire to begin intertwining the two lives more and more into one becomes inevitable. This continues until love is openly pronounced, but by this time it is well enough known before the words have had a chance to express it.
As a result of this sort of strong and mutual joining of two separate lives into one joint venture, each person begins to care for the other as much or more as they care for themselves. The worries, problems, joys and laughter of the other become as important as their very own. If one is cold or hungry, the other cannot rest until there is warmth or food for the other. If one is sad, the other cannot enjoy laughter until attending to their mate’s source of grief. If one is rejoicing over some good fortune, the other is equally glad for them. These are the general directions two people take with each other when love begins to motivate their hearts in the way they treat each other.
Part Two; ‘The Way Things Often Turn Out’ Let’s skip back to the beginning.. two people meet. Often times love is perceived either as something you can force upon someone or demand out of them. Either way it is a recipe for disaster and heartache.
So two people meet. Perhaps at a grocery store, common function, workplace, whatever. Only this time there is high interest on one person’s part and merely mild to no interest on the part of the other. Naturally offers are made to spend time together by the one which are either declined or shown only minimal interest by the other. This is the point where many people lose all sense of respect for others and their hormones begin to take over. It’s natural, we’re human and we have the initial hopes that forcing the issue will lead to some ultimate good.
And so more persuasive, forceful or manipulative action is taken. Men are despised the world over for the ‘lines’ they throw women in order to get that first date happening. Women have likewise employed their own style of both subtle and overt measures to lure an uninterested man into a relationship. If the disinterested person can hold their ground and insist they simply aren’t interested, damage is kept to a minimum. But many times we cannot read our own hearts so easily, and so we proceed forward hoping for the best.
When love simply “isn’t there” the worst thing that could ever happen is for both people to charge forward anyway. Love is something of a self-fulfilling mystery. We give love and care for someone else, at our own expense many times, but take joy in it because.. we love them. But to force this on someone who isn’t so sure they want it or to expect it from someone not inclined to give it to you in particular is asking for the most precious thing they could ever give under the worst of circumstances.
At this point, if things continue to go badly, one manipulates or coerces the other by way of need, greed, fear or desire into a relationship in which there really is no mutual, all-giving sense of love. Even the person taking so much initiative is not really in love for if he/she were they would respect the other person’s reluctance or uncomfortableness with the situation. But because they are actually more centered on ‘getting’ a source of love for themselves.. they persist against the natural flow of things.
Progressing further, the sad thing I have witnessed these last few months, are situations in which this mismatch begins to cement itself either by way of marriage or unplanned parenthood. Suddenly making a clear break becomes much more complicated. There have been times when a ‘go’ is made of it and love springs from the ashes of what was initially a bad beginning. But more often the stakes simply get higher and the pain deeper.
Right now I know of a nineteen year old woman who once had what seemed like love for an unloving man. Perhaps she thought her love would change him, as many others have thought. But one child and no marriage later she finds herself unloved, treated badly and torn with the decision to carry on her life without him while raising the child which resulted. The good news in her situation is that there is a different man with whom there seems to be a positive, mutual love growing for her to turn to. But even so, she struggles with the decision of whether to cut her losses now or invest more of her life with a man who shows her no love with the bleak hope he ‘may’ ‘someday’ change for the better. (My personal note on the subject is that she’s better off without him whether she turns to the second man or not.)
All this to say that for those still in the early stages of courtship that it is best to let things fall together in a natural sort of way. If it must be forced or manipulated into place.. if it takes convincing someone to love you against their natural disposition, then chances are you will spend the rest of your life convincing them to stay with you. The moment you fail to ‘dance’ or amuse or amaze that other person it will be inevitable their feelings will begin to drift back to what they originally were. In essence, you want to be loved for who you are naturally, not a polished up act meant as a lure.
However, when love seems to grow mutually without the need for force or contrivance you have happened upon something very special indeed. It is like two magnets that increase in attractive force the closer they approach each other.
What does that mean in reality terms? It means you and your mate find more joy in being together than in what you happen to be doing or where you go. It means gifts are valued based on the emotions they represent rather than the dollar amount spent. It means you would rather spend the evening wiping your loved one’s tears than dancing with a multitude of friends. It means you find yourself respected and care for without having to grasp for it. It means someone else’s life has become as important as your own.
If you are currently not dating or in the beginnings of what may seem a promising romance my best advice on the subject would be to remember these few things..
1.) It is better to be alone than to be with someone wishing you were alone.
2.) If you have to force or ‘sell’ the relationship.. chances are high you will always have to do so with that person.
If you find you have invested much of yourself into a relationship that has only brought you abuse, neglect and disrespect from your mate I would encourage you to consider the following..
1.) There are too many other, better, kinder people in this world to waste any more time with an abusive person.
2.) With some people, no amount of love will soften their heart.. they will only make a victim out of you to a greater degree.
The principles of courtship are fairly straightforward. We want love and seek a source of love whom we can lavish our love upon. When that is not the case with someone, it is best to let it go. But when love is mutually there with more care and tenderness than you could have hoped for.. do not feel you have to cage or earn it. Simply reward it with the only fitting recompense, which is to give love in return.
Henry Velez is a writer, traveler and vlogger currently living in the Philippines. He has written extensively on social issues, relationships and travel.