Romantic Cynicism and Cynical Romance

My friends ask me why I’m still single.

Well…actually, they don’t, really. Not any more. I’ve given them enough half-truths and approximations over the years to satisfy them. I even believed most of my own explanations, at the time.

“I haven’t met the right girl” has a lot of good uses. Helps set my mom at ease, convince her that she’ll have grandkids someday.

“I’m just not ready for a relationship yet.” True enough…but then again, I’ve never really shied away from diving headfirst into things I’m woefully unprepared for.

“I’m focusing on my writing career right now.” HA! Yeah, just…yeah.

“I don’t believe in love. Romance is a figment of our culture’s imagination, made to distract us from the general dissatisfaction of our lives and interpersonal relationships.” This is the excuse that I’ve believed for most of these years. It’s also the closest to the truth…despite being its very opposite.

I’m single because I’m a bloody hopeless romantic.

I do think romance is a cultural construct, and it’s one I’ve bought into wholeheartedly. I think love songs and happy endings and dreams come true are nothing but fairy tales, and I fall for them every time. I believe true love is for suckers, and I’m the biggest sap of all.

And when I was younger, I’d leap from infatuation to infatuation with hardly a hesitation, seeing my fantasy in other people’s reality.

But after a while, you learn to see the faults. The pettiness, the impatience, the insecurity, the jealousy, the fear, the anger. And recognizing that you mirror all these qualities does nothing to encourage you to settle. It exacerbates your need to fulfill the illusive fever dream of a perfect romance, first by trying to perfect yourself, and then others. This never ends well.

There’s no such thing as true love. I know that with my mind. In its place is something we’ll call “real love”. Real love is messy, complicated, frustrating, stressful, vulnerable, disappointing, and so, so much more beautiful than true love because it’s real.

With my head, I know all this. I can recite the facts like the Gettysburg Address, forward and backward, upward and downward, inside and out. But the fact remains that I just don’t believe what I’m saying.

Such is my impossible dichotomy: I’m a cynic who believes in true love, and a romantic who knows it doesn’t exist.

For years I’ve tried to pull myself to one side or the other. Sometimes I tell myself to let go of my cynicism and just believe the best in people, that love and joy and happy endings are just a leap of faith away.

Other times I tell myself to let go of idle fantasies and focus on what’s tangible and real.

But the older I get, the more I think maybe I don’t have to choose a side in the war between romanticism and realism. Maybe the world has a place for people like us: the grounded dreamers.

heart and mind

If you stay close to the ground, your life is bound by the distance of your horizons. And if you’re floating in the clouds, you never know where you actually are.

But if you can keep your feet planted firmly on the ground and your head up above the clouds…you can see so very far from up here.

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This entry was posted in Philosophy, Relationships and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Romantic Cynicism and Cynical Romance

  1. Quaint Ivery says:

    For quite sometime I grew to believe I had made up such an idea. After years of wanting to be in a relationship and talking to guys, I never committed myself because I felt as though “love” never lasts. Lovers grow old and change, imperfections of your lover that once were cute become annoying, sex becomes a job lacking passion and desire, a long kiss or meaningful conversation is rare. Love songs, movies, and poems mesmerize me, making me want to create my own story with someone else. With my heart, I love the idea of being in love; with my mind, I know love does not exist.

  2. The Modern Leper says:

    Reblogged this on The Cynical Romantic. and commented:
    This guy is amazing.

  3. The Modern Leper says:

    Thank you for making me feel a little less alone in this world. I’m not going to lie; I’m a little jealous that you put it into such eloquent words before I could, but you did a far better job at it than I ever could, and someone had to say it. You’re an amazing writer. Good luck out there.

  4. Christine says:

    This is amazing. I actually just wrote a much sloppier, choppier, and overall bad version of this. You put exactly what I am constantly thinking into a well thought out and fantastically worded article.

    Thanks for that.

  5. Mary Mar says:

    Thank you for writing and uploading these words and thoughts. makes me feel less crazy

  6. Silvia says:

    THANK YOU.

  7. Dakota says:

    Good luck in your search. Listen to this wounded romantic though when he says, be careful to whom you entrust your heart. Most of the Western World is in search of not love, but an impossible concept: eternal infatuation.

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  10. maryel says:

    Finally! i found someone i can relate to.. thank you for that. I really agree with you on that! My friends just dont get me sometimes and i always end up with white lies just like that to give them what they want to hear whenever they ask me about love. Thank you really…

  11. zazeel says:

    grounded dreamers . . i like that because i can relate . . does that mean you’re a capricorn sun with a libran moon?? hehe!! probably not but interesting if you were . . when people talk about love i generally ask them what love is to them . . because i’m still trying to work it out for myself and i find it helps to hear what others have to say. i like your concept of ‘real’ love. i’ve been ‘in love’ (with a string of partners) virtually all my life but i’m still looking for something i havent found yet. and of course what the sages tell us is that i need to look within . . .

  12. dabink1988 says:

    So great. And that’s one of my favorite speeches of all time….

  13. Gede Prama says:

    Simple but meaningful friends, greetings compassion 🙂

  14. Zan says:

    Reblogged this on ZAN.

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