WRONG ON SO MANY LEVELS

Okay, I admit, I rarely watch TV. Now I remember why. Last night was a rare, open night, and my wife and I laid back and browsed the TV channels to happen upon an ABC reality show, The Bachelor. Here you have a former fitness model and born-again Christian trying to decide which of a multitude of women will be “the one.” For starters, I hope you agree with me that reality shows aren’t  “reality.” Keep in mind that for all of the interesting visuals—Sean swimming with one bachelorette in a dark cave in Thailand, Sean in the fantasy bedroom with another date, Sean combing his hair in the bathroom—there was a cameraman right there filming all of this.

What’s wrong on so many levels is that Sean tells each of his dates that he can see spending the rest of his life with them. Each day Sean treats another fantastic candidate to the “date of a lifetime” which is all funded by ABC. Each woman feels herself falling in love with Sean. Then, one by one, they are sent home. So this is love? Think about the collateral damage this causes each person participating in the show. For example, last season, Sean was sent home by a bachelorette in the second to the last round. This year, he will pick “the one” for him out of all others. Really?

Now lets take this “perfect couple” out of the fantasy environment. Sean now will need to get a real job. Sean may be a nice guy, but this former male model will need a real career when he returns. Reality will be getting up and going to work. Living on a budget. Growing old. Having kids. What happens the first time after fantasyland that his partner gives him a dose of reality?  Will he start second-guessing himself that perhaps he should have chosen the girl behind door number two?  He was a runner up, and most of his dates will be too.  What happens when they seek a real romance without the cameras running?

I figured that America has to be savvy to his, and the show can’t be a hit. I was wrong. Last week The Bachelor brought in 9.2 million viewers, which is a season high. This was the best non-finale rating in over two years and helped ABC tie with CBS for #1 network for the night.

My greatest concern is that America considers this kind of dating, romance, and love a reality. It isn’t.

 

THE HISTORY OF ROMANCE

Kimberly Powell wrote an overview of the history of romance in About.com.  I took the time to view her article through my filtered lens of Dating for Life. From the caveman to primitive tribes, many marriages were by capture, not choice. Men raided other villages for wives. Stolen women became the cause of wars, i.e. Helen of Troy. This custom still exists in many urban bars.

The term “honeymoon” derives from an old French custom. As the moon went through all its phases, engaged couples drank a brew called metheglinas which was made from honey. More than not, this was not dating for life, as their marriages were prearranged for purposes of preserving power and wealth.

During medieval times, love evolved despite arranged marriages, but was still not considered a prerequisite in matrimonial decisions. Suitors wooed their intended with serenades and flowery poetry. Honor and chastity were highly regarded virtues.

During the Victorian Era, romantic love was the impetus for marriage. Courting was a formal process, especially among the upper classes. A gentleman had to be “introduced” to a lady, and it protocol was for him to actually speak with her only after several weeks waiting. In an open party, the predecessor of “singles events”, each gentleman would present his card to a lady and offer to walk her home. At the close of that evening the lady would evaluate her offers and chose who would be her escort. She would notify the lucky gentleman by giving him her own card requesting that he escort her home. Today’s version is the text message.

Almost all courting took place in the girl’s home, always under the eye of watchful parents. If the courting progressed, the couple might advance to the front porch. Smitten couples rarely saw each other without the presence of a chaperone, and marriage proposals were frequently written. Today, most courting takes place under the watchful eye of a bartender or Facebook.

Many parts of 16th and 17th century Europe and America allowed courting couples to share a bed, fully clothed, and often with a ‘bundling board’ between them or bolster cover tied over the girls legs. The idea was to allow the couple to talk and get to know each other but in the safe (and warm) confines of the girl’s house. Today’s concept is similar, except it’s called “hanging out” after the club at the guy’s “hood” sans parents. I’m sure it’s still warm and fuzzy.

Getting hitched alludes to the “ties that bind”. In some African cultures, grass braids tie the hands of the groom and bride together to symbolize their union. Twine is used similarly in the Hindu Vedic wedding ceremony. In Mexico a ceremonial rope is loosely placed around both the bride’s and groom’s necks to “bind” them together.

What keeps anyone together is Dating for Life.

NATIONAL HEARTBREAK SEASON IS OVER; ENTER SPRING FLING!

The extended time from two weeks before Christmas until Valentine’s Day is known as National Heartbreak Season. Why? Because couples often break up before a holiday, and because very few people want to establish a new relationship JUST before a sentimental holiday. I’m announcing to all those 62 million singles in America that from February 15 commences National Spring Fling season. Spring is in the air, at least in Florida, and it creeps northward until hitting International Falls Minnesota by mid-May (51 degrees average temperature by then.) Guys, it’s time for chivalry to come out of hibernation and start planning some fun dates. Remember the first key to Dating for Life—find something that both you and your date want to do, so that you’re starting out on the right foot. And don’t be concerned that you may be “leading your date” on with a bit of chivalry. Either romance happens or it doesn’t, but showing someone a nice time is important either way. You never know when your acts of kindness open the door to an important connection.

I’m also repeating my last message to those couples who have well-established relationships. Valentine’s Day should NOT be the once-a-year obligatory romantic date. Romance is an art form that requires continual practice. Dating for Life is a sure-fire way to keep your romance alive, and your relationship.

YOUR VALENTINE’S DAY RESOLUTION

According to Statistics Brain, 45 percent of Americans normally make New Year’s Day resolutions. Roughly 8 percent of all resolutions are actually considered successful. Why? To merely wish for something is folly without an action plan.   Such is true of Valentine’s Day. Is Valentine’s Day an obligatory day where you have to feign “romantic” and then get back to your normal self? Does Cupid go back into hibernation on February 15 until the following year? Is Valentine’s Day just another greeting card holiday?  It is if that’s how you look at it.

I propose that you make a Valentine’s Day VOW to honor and cherish your partner every day, and let V-Day be Day One.   Be your own Cupid and take “AIM” and be “Always Intimacy Motivated.”  Put an action plan in place with Dating for Life. Love is never static—it either exists in crescendo or in decrescendo. Every little thing you do for your significant other—a playful tussle, a surprise act of kindness, a meaningful, empathetic discussion—further pushes your relationship upward (towards heaven.)  Likewise, every inconsiderate, mean-spirited, or apathetic action drives the spiral downward (towards hell.)  Good and evil are real, and your actions reinforce either side.

Dating for Life in every sense embraces the Golden Rule. In case you don’t know it’s meaning, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Therefore, anyone you spend time with is essentially a “date” and you honor each person with your chivalry.  Above all, however, the Golden Rule and chivalry apply most to the person that should mean the most to you—your romantic partner. Despite the complicated, crazy life that you may lead, on Valentine’s Day, lose the lists, and focus on honoring your partner. And make a resolution to continue the practice each and every day with one small act of kindness or chivalry. Trust me—it is well worth the effort.