Monday, September 3, 2012

How much effort should you put in to find love?

Not 100% perfect? Next!Y! Lifestyle's serial dater wonders if he's too quick to find fault with his dates
Last night I was lying in bed flicking through the final pages of Jean Paul Sartre's Nausea. (Forgive me for starting this week's blog with the most pretentious opening line ever.) Don't laugh, I was. In it, a comment about love made a hefty impact on me:
"It's quite an undertaking to start loving somebody. You have to have energy, generosity, blindness. There is even a moment right at the start where you have to jump across an abyss: if you think about it you don't do it."


When you put it like that, it all sounds a bit daunting. I'm not sure I approach love with any of the three traits mentioned. And in any case I've ruined it now by thinking about it. So thanks for that, Sartre, you plum.
The quote brought to mind an argument I have perpetually with friends over whether I am genuinely looking for a loving relationship.
They say I'm not, I say I am.
I know they're wrong, but to be fair they are basing their prejudice on hard evidence. They have witnessed me date a series of women and then break up with them quite quickly because I didn't think they were right for me.
They say I'm not giving love a chance, I say I'm trying to maximise its chance by not wasting time on girls I'm never going to love.
I recently finished with one such girl, Natasha, who seemed to think (unsurprisingly perhaps) that I was making a mistake.


My reason for breaking up, after we'd been seeing each other for about a month, was that I didn't think it would last so we might as well cut our losses now. That's a euphemistic way of saying: I don't like you enough.
She did think it could last though, and she thought I was being hasty.
"If you don't put anything in, you won't get anything out," she said.
But I still ended it. When I thought about it afterwards, I wondered if she had a point.
I fancied Natasha loads at first but, after getting to know her better, there were a couple of things about her I found annoying. And then I didn't fancy her as much.
I couldn't even put my finger on exactly what the annoying things were. In fact, on paper she was perfect: attractive, funny, smart, kind. Yet I was supremely confident in my decision to end the relationship "before it got serious", in my words.
Was this a weird thing to do? Should I have 'put more in' to get more out? Is this the latest example of my futile quest for perfection?
A mate recently got married to a girl he'd been seeing for a year. I assumed this meant she was his perfect woman, but it turned out it wasn't as simple as that. He told me: "There are some things about her I don't like, but the way I see it, I'm not perfect either. So I put up with it - happily."
A couple of years ago this guy was in the same position as me: searching in vain for his ideal girl. Now he sounds like a man bursting with energy and generosity. He has found love, while I am left lagging behind. I'm not sure exactly what I have to do to catch up, but I guess I could start by not spending my evenings sitting indoors reading poncey French philosophy books.

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