Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Fools Who Rush In: Are They the Dumb Ones Or Just the Crazy in Love Ones?

"You can't hurry love."

"Easy come, easy go."

"Good things come to those who wait."

"Slow and steady wins the race."

When it comes to falling in love, time-worn idioms are not on the side of fools who rush in where angels fear to tread. As Steven Tyler sang on Aerosmith's 1997 single, falling in love (is hard on the knees). It can be even harder on the heart if you fall too quickly.

Then again, easy come, easy go, right? According to TheFreeDictionary, this particular phrase (which was used as the title of a 1993 George Strait single and, fittingly, the 2000 Sex and the City episode in which whirlwind couple Charlotte and Trey got engaged with one simple "alrighty") is "something that you say in order to describe someone who thinks that everything is easy to achieve, especially earning money, and who therefore does not worry about anything."

What? Nothing about love? I've always interpreted it in two ways, both involving love, not money: 1) If you exert minimal effort to land the one you're with, you're likely to lose him or her with minimal effort, too. And 2) If you love the one you're with too quickly, you'll get over him or her just as quickly. For the most part, my love life has followed the trajectory outlined in No. 2. I've tended to fall hard and fast. As Luther Vandross sang on his 1985 track, my sensitivity (gets in the way). My love can be like a supernova -- it glows, explodes and goes.

As I get older, and everything starts slowing down, so do my romances. I now find myself conducting my love life as I do my every other aspect of my existence, proceeding with the utmost caution. It took me a full six months, four longer than usual, to finally utter those four magic words -- "I love you, too" -- to my last boyfriend, and it took me twice as long to get over him (an ongoing process that will turn one year old sometime in the next week or so).

Does that mean it was true love because it took so long to show up and so much longer to go away. Does that mean love is true blue only when it takes its sweet time arriving? Does that mean love at first sight is an urban myth? I don't have any definitive answers. On one hand, I still believe love is something that we can't control. As Pet Shop Boys sang on their 1986 single, love comes quickly (and whatever you do, you can't stop falling). We can only manage the way we react to it, whether we give in to it right away and let the object of our affection know how we feel, or if we wait until he or she says it first.

It's hard to sustain love that arrives in a blaze of glory. But as any firefighter knows, it's even more challenging to extinguish an out of control raging fire. No firefighter would ever dream of stepping aside in the line of duty, but when in the line of love's fire, sometimes it's best to get out of the way and let love run its fiery course.

On the other hand, as Mariah Carey and Robert Palmer both sang (in 1990 and 1994, respectively), love takes time. It needs time and space to unfold and develop. I can't argue with that. But that said, it should be a natural progression, not one that comes about due to any great effort by either of the people in it.

Neither do love at first sight and taking it slow need to be mutually exclusive. Some of the best relationships I've experienced (usually from the outside, looking in) have been ones where both parties fell fast, became a couple in fairly quick succession, and then let it develop further organically, at a natural, effortless pace. Once someone who's dragging his or her feet utters the words "Let's take it slow," or uses it to backtrack after plunging in, it's almost like the kiss of death. Does anyone ever say that when they're really into someone?

For a neurotic frantic romantic like me, it's too easy to overthink and overanalyze a relationship into oblivion when it's developing at a snail's pace. That's the risk I run, too, when I try to follow the Millionaire Matchmaker's golden rule: abstinence before monogamy. Although it's a great concept, there's too much potential for angst. But then, I'm someone who's never really figured out how friends turn in to lovers.

I prefer to lead with sex and let the rest fall into place later. Maybe that only works when two guys are involved, but it decreases the potential for deal-breaker surprises in bed and cements your physical attraction so that you can determine what you can be to each other from the outset, making those early dates less fraught with anxiety. There's nothing worse than sitting across from a guy you want and wondering, But does he want me? Furthermore, patience is not one of my virtues. I have a short attention span, and when my mind starts to wander, my eyes do, too. Eventually, they focus on something, or someone, else. I'm a typical male that way.

"I want to lock this thing down."

It might have not been the most romantic thing Aidan Shaw ever said to Carrie Bradshaw, but I got it. When he said that if she doesn't want to marry him now she never will during their second Sex and the City breakup, despite her protestations, he was right on the money. (I can't believe I never noticed it until this very moment, but if they'd gotten married, she would have been Carrie Bradshaw Shaw!) There something to be said for taking it slow. There's a lot to be said for taking it slow. But it's something that should happen naturally, not deliberately, not after hours of analysis and discussion, and not as a potential out while one or both of you decide if the romance is what you really want.

Unless you've got freezing feet after being burned by an ex (in which case, you probably still aren't over said ex and shouldn't be embarking on a new relationship anyway), the heart wants what the heart wants, and if the heart really wants it, it generally wants it now. That's what I told myself a few years ago, several months into dating Matias, when, tired of his general ambivalence toward me, toward us, and his insistence on taking it too slow, I set him free. Within a few weeks, he had a new boyfriend, a serious boyfriend, one he was still with when I ran into him on my birthday a year and a half later.

The heart wants what the heart wants, and his just didn't want me. "Let's take it slow" is tantamount to "I'm just just that into you," or "I'm just not that into you right now." For the impatient and the insecure (like me), sitting around waiting for someone to decide whether he or she wants you is like watching a lukewarm pot of water on the fire that never reaches a full boil. I'd rather take a cold shower and call it a night.
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