The other day, I had a general conversation about romantic relationships. I described a hypothetical situation, and somebody answered ‘you just described a movie!’ She didn’t mean that I was describing any specific movie – she meant that I was describing the way romance works out in movies. I didn’t consciously mean to do that, but upon reflection, I realize she is right.
Last week, I talked about how places transition from fantasy to reality. This does not just apply to geographic places – it can apply to any part of the human experience. Even though I am well into my 20s, I have extremely little practical experience with romance. I have made some observations of people in romantic relationships around me, and I’ve read/watched some relevant non-fiction, but the vast majority of what I know about romance comes from fiction – novels, plays, comics, movies, TV. Thus, romance is still the Mysterious Land across the Metaphorical Ocean.
I really do love good romance in fiction. People have much more choice in who is their romantic partner than, say, who is their parent, yet in most fiction I’ve encountered, characters have much more trouble getting romance to work than, say, getting friendship to work. It can be touching. It can be exciting. Of course, if I read/watched fiction from a culture which considered friendship to be more important than romance, and where intense friendships were the primary focus of the drama, I might be a big fan of friendship in fiction.
However, loving romance in fiction is not the same as wanted romance for myself (it took me a while to figure that one out). Something else I love in fiction is character death. I love endings where main characters die. I have one friend who used be scared when I recommended a book because she knew that my tastes ran towards wrenching violence. This does not mean I want to be a murderer or that I want to die myself. Thus, desiring something in a fantasy is not the same thing as desiring something in real life.
That said, I am not going to try to avoid romance in real life. If it happens, it happens. If I knew I were going to live for 500 years, I would probably even try to actively pursue romance in order to expand my experience of life. But I am not going to live for 500 years, there are many lands I want to explore, and I can be satisfied with my life without ever crossing that metaphorical ocean and exploring real romance.