(Oyunga Pala) In the self-help book published in 1995 The Rules: Time-tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right, Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider make a bold attempt to list down the secrets to a blissful romantic life.
They say key to happiness in the Rules collective wisdom is to find Mr. Perfect by solving a puzzle following specific rules. Fein and Schneider, who in the present day, operate under the banner of ‘dating coaches’ devised a system that a woman should follow to attract and marry the man of her dreams. The underlining premise being playing, “Hard To Get”.
Modern dating as Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider figured out is made up of a set of laws of engagement. The chances of success are determined by one’s awareness of the rules. This is why we are constantly updating the rules, buying love guides everywhere but sadly never quite finding the everlasting solution that we seek.
The contemporary third world adult with a penchant for Western ideals of love has become a dedicated consumer of the romance industry. Romance is generally structured from a woman’s point of view. Suitors have to woo their chosen lovers with pomp and flourish to beat off the competition.
Depending on the kind of girl he desires, his references could stem from instant gratification strategies gleaned from the racy Cosmopolitan magazine to more tactical pursuits using ancient strategy to win feminine attention as captured by Robert Greene’s detailed, Art of Seduction.
Present day romantic exhibition is stuck in the age of medieval chivalry. The courting rituals have changed but the importance of romantic love remains a central part of successful relationships. During medieval times, the importance of love in a relationship emerged as a reaction to arranged marriages and has worked its way up to a prerequisite in matrimonial decisions.
Romance has become an art form practiced by a desirable minority of eligible men who were at one time known as Mr. Right. The outlook may have shifted downwards a notch as the mist of romance clears with age but women continue to have their sights out for a ‘good man’ and the men do all in their means to match the expectation. Invariably, men are also caught up in this matrix forever tormented by the question, ‘What Do Women Want”.
The award-winning British political columnist Linda Heard described the frustration aptly, ‘what kind of man do girls really want? A kind, sophisticated, warm, intelligent, artistic, attractive, single millionaire. And where is he to be found? Only in our imagination.
Despite the great strides in female empowerment, mainstream entertainment dances to the tune of the same old love stereotype of a submissive female and dominant male. Men may reject chauvinism, women may hail independence yet time and again, our love lives are lifted line for line from the numerous depiction of the love dance on popular media.
That’s why this Valentine’s Day, the official day for lovers, gestures of love will be on display and in full swing despite all proclamations to the contrary. The demand for red roses will rise, chocolate will be flying off the shelves and restaurants will be packed with almost scripted couples gazing dreamily at each other.
The industry of love must thus be considered from the perspective of function. Demand drives supply and it is obvious that men and women are still preoccupied by the rituals of attracting the opposite sexes. As such the romance industry retains its social significance because finding love is a big ingredient of happiness in modern times.
The 21st century ideals of loving bliss rendered in countless stories since the advent of printed press have shaped our consciousness. And you really can’t blame the present generation for holding on dearly to these notions. The other mundane stuff of lives after the extravagant wedding, the kids, fading looks and middle-aged spreads are carefully brushed off in the craving for romantic bliss, and the industry thrives.
Perhaps the cure to this craving lies in science. Love, the most invigorating of human emotions is a conspiracy whose only purpose is to bring and keep us bound together for the purpose of producing offspring to sustain the survival of the human species.
Our bodies are evolutionarily programmed to respond to an irresistible cocktail of love potions that keep us fixated on the mating game. The chemical sequence, leads us from lust to romance and finally commitment and marriage. Some scientists have even been bold enough to call ‘Love a trap’. It is the only way to get the ever rampant male to stick around and fulfill his purpose in life; breeding. There is some shades of truth to what Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho says, “Love is a trap. When it appears, we see only its light, not its shadows”.
To forge an authentic relationship amidst all this romantic hype a change of thinking is required. First and foremost, love has to be an honest expression of our innermost feelings. What we put in, determines what we get out. For love to endure, a couple must go through trials and hardships. In a manner of forging steel, a relationship oscillates between the heat of passion and chilling episodes of conflict to emerge as the unified state of tempered steel.
The ingredients of success are not looks and status but shared values, attitude and purpose. Love is as natural as breathing. There are many techniques to that teach us how to breathe correctly but once we grasp the power of breath we come realize that all the answers we seek have always been within us.