Romance vs. Intimacy: The Eternal Battle

I’m *not* a Romantic.

That’s actually a conclusion I’ve been somewhat hesitant to come to, because… I’d *like* to be. I have tried… and I’ve failed, miserably. That’s okay, I now come to terms with it. I am horrible at Romance.

What I am good at… is Intimacy. (and I’m not talking about the Sexual context… get out of the gutter. Or at least get out of my spot!)

Okay, maybe that’d be up for debate when you start getting the opinions and feedback of my Exes… but at the very least I’m *better* at Intimacy then Romance.

Some might be looking at me oddly (actually, that’s not any different from what I’m used to…) and wondering “What is the difference?” Normally, I would have figured them the same, or pretty damn near the same thing. But no more shall I do this… I shall now get nitpicky.

As per what I usually do when I start to differentiate between specific words… I look them up in the “pocket dictionary” I’ve had since Grad School. (Yet, I’ve never had pockets that big in my life.) Sure, maybe it’s a bit cliché, but why the hell not? So, I looked up “Intimacy” and found this definition:

1. To make timid; fill with fear. 2. To coerce, inhibit, or discourage by or as if by threats.

Is it fairly telling, the fact that I said, “You know, that makes sense…” and THEN realized I was looking at the definition of “INTIMIDATE” instead? (Sure, it says the two words have different roots, but I think they just don’t want to admit it.) Hey, I say it’s an honest mistake. Anyhoo…

in∙ti∙mate adj. 1. Marked by close acquaintance, association, or familiarity. 2. Essential; innermost. 3. Comfortably private…

As for the other…

ro∙mance n 1.a. A love affair. b. Romantic involvement (thanks, redundancy really helps… he sarcastically says in a sarcastic manner); love. 2. A mysterious fascinating quality or appeal, as of something adventurous…

Ah ha! That’s it! I *knew* there was a difference! It’s #2… that’s what I believe people are really talking about when they say they want “romance”. That’s what I’m horrible at.

I don’t know if I can say I wear my heart on my sleeve, but I can say I’m pretty damn honest, even from meeting me right away. I’m not cultivating any kind of “mystique of a secret past” or brooding and looking all deep like some kind of pathetic and sparkly-stalking-vampire (modern teen ideas of Romance are majorly Fucked up, BTW). I’m the kind of person who, if you want to know about me, I’ll tell you. Ask any question, and I’ll answer it. No problemo. (I don’t have a lot of pride in that area, and very little embarrasses me.) While I love reading mysteries and watching them on TV and movies… I myself am no mystery. Hell, if you’ve read even a few of the posts on this blog, you know a pretty good amount about me. Sure, you may not know my actual identity… the whole pen-name thing… but you’ll know me. The name is really just a minor detail. Even then, you send me a private message on here or Twitter… Hell, I’ll probably send you my Facebook page, if you’re really curious. Has pictures and everything.

Yeah, I’m a sap like that. But I like people knowing about me… just as much as I like knowing about other people. I like the familiarity, I like knowing the real person… I like them knowing the real me. I like… the Intimacy. Hell… I love it!

That leads to the big kicker… and what seems to make the two terms (dare-I-say) polar opposites, rather the similar kind that was assumed before:

The more you get to know someone, the less Romance you have with them. But it’s not a bad thing… because the trade-off is… you gain real Intimacy. (Personally, I think that’s better.)

Alright, I’m sure I just opened myself up to some comments saying, “No, I can have both! I want it!” Sure, because everybody wants everything.

Intimacy is a long-term satisfaction… and it takes work to get there. It takes time. You get to know the real person… and hopefully you actually *like* that real person. If you don’t? Well, you should know not to waste anymore time, right?

Granted, in some ways Intimacy might be a bit of an unseen trap. About 7 or 8 years ago, I knew this gal (of whom I had a slight interest in at the time I admit) who was chatting about her Ex and how she “loved him, but wasn’t *in* love with him”, and trying to explain that paradox. She’s more then willing to go out and date other people, but when she hits a personal crisis, or something really bothered and upset her… she went running to him to talk and get comfort. Her reasoning was, “we just know each other so well anyway that it’s just easier to go to him because he would understand without me saying that much.” Sure, that’s sound logic… but at the same time, I wanted to tell her that she should just pack it in and marry the guy. Because she didn’t seem open to the idea of getting to that level of intimacy with anyone else… because the Ex was easier. She was looking for romance elsewhere… but the real intimacy was always with the Ex. I couldn’t see her finding a new relationship that would be okay with that… which is why I allowed my own interest to fade. If you know the real person, and really know that person isn’t for you? Recognize that you need to look elsewhere. (Just don’t say “I do” until you figure that part out.)

This might also help explain why I’m in contact with so few of my Exes… I don’t like the reminder of NOT having that particular Intimacy anymore.

In some ways, I think Romance is a bit about the short-term satisfaction. The quick, immediate excitement. Sure there’s also the parts of candle-lit dinners, thoughtfulness of birthdays, declarations of love that people call “romantic”… but I think those are things more tilted into the Intimacy category, then true Romance. Romance is… exciting. It’s the unknown. Sorry to repeat myself… but it’s Mystery.

Like I said at the beginning… *I* like Romance. Excitement can be fun. Surprises are peachy-keen. I think everybody likes stuff that is new and exciting… maybe even feeling a bit dangerous. It’s a neat thrill.

And maybe I just uncovered an element that might give an insight as to why some people choose to cheat in their relationships. They’re looking for the Romance. Unfortunately, they’re doing so at the complete expense of the Intimacy they had in that relationship. Being an admitted Non-Romantic… I cannot condone that. I might be able to “understand” it… but only as far as to know to recognize it and not submit to it.

(Meanwhile: In the Gutter: The one thing I can NOT understand at all is why certain celebrities would cheat on their spouses… when the spouses are Hotter and more Beautiful then any of the mistresses. That just seems pointless. Don’t you at least want a visual upgrade? If you’re in that powerful a position in life, you should be able to find a mistress that would make your emotionally-suffering-wife say, “This is a horrible ordeal for me and the children… but to be fair, that other gal is *waaaay* Hot. If I was a lesbian… I’m just saying…” And the kids saying, “Dad, how could you do this? By the way, high-five!”)

I’ve never been one to take Intimacy for granted. I’ve been broken up with far more then I’ve been the one doing the breaking up, and the few times I did, it was because I was starting to see the real person, and knowing it wasn’t a good situation for me to be in. (One instance looked downright unhealthy… but that’s another story.) Plus, spending more time in my dating life single rather than in a relationship (healthy or unhealthy), personally I put more importance on the Intimacy then Romance. I can’t do the short-term satisfaction… I’m a long-term kinda guy.

Unfortunately, it appears that I’m also NOT the kind of guy that single women want to actually date.

In High School and in my 20s… being the patient sort of chap that I am, I theorized that all the women at my age were still wanting their kicks with the “Bad Boys” and Deep A-holes, that when I got into my 30s… I was going to have the greatest dating life in history. Because by then, women would know they don’t want the Bad Boys, and being in their sexual peak during the early to mid-30s… I was optimistic the best years were ahead of me.

This was even encouraged by friends of mine who would even tell me, “Dude, trust me… women are going to *want* a guy like you when they’re older.” You know… if I had a time-machine, I wouldn’t go kill Hitler or witness the great historical events of the world. I’d go back to those instances of encouragement… and I’d kick those people in the face. (Come to think of it… some did show up later those days with mysterious injuries. One had a footprint on him with the treads that looked remarkably similar to a pair of shoes I just got…. Hmmm, I wonder….)

It has NOT been the prime years for dating, no-sir-ee. It’s a subject I’ve gone over a few times before… but the last time? The whole eHarmony fiasco? Yep, it is officially a complete dud. I ended off that post with an air of hopefulness, as I was in contact with one gal… and we had gotten to a 3rd date. The only one from online that I had gotten to that point with. We even got to a fourth date. We even made plans for a fifth date. Now #5 was 2 weeks from #4… I didn’t mind waiting. I’m sure you, dear reader, know that I go slower then a snail through a tar pit. My reputation may not precede me… but moves alongside me.

4 dates… no kissing, no hand-holding… not even any hugging. Hell, we barely touched. Now, I didn’t see any opportunities to take such movements… but hopeful they would come in the future. I was enjoying my time with her regardless, and figuring she was either respecting my slow-ass-pace… or went at that pace herself.

Well, the day before the scheduled date #5 (this past Friday), she calls me. I’m happy to hear from her, figuring we would solidify our specific plans for the next day… and then she tells me that she “didn’t see a future for us.”

…Ow. I felt like I just got kicked in the gut (and not by my future self).

She said she really enjoyed spending time with me, and always had a really good time… but didn’t feel anything “Romantic” with me and… (here it comes) only thought of me as a friend.

You have no idea how loud I wanted to scream, “Go Fuck Yourself!” to her… and I think I actually came close to doing so. But I didn’t. I do think it was apparent I was audibly upset… and when she said she thought of me only as a friend, I replied:

“Yeah, I get that a lot.”

She giggled at that… and I know it was an uncomfortable thing for her to do, and it was probably more of an awkward-trying-to-relieve-tension-giggle… but still; I wasn’t joking. Honestly, if she hadn’t said that… maybe I wouldn’t be so upset here.

I have seriously heard that same speech far too many times in my life, and I am sick to death of hearing it. Where are all these women that are supposed to want a guy like me? They all want the Romance. And I offer Intimacy.

She said she had given it time, but didn’t feel Romantic feelings with me. I can only think that if she wanted Romance, why didn’t she try walking a little closer to me when we strolled, to give me a chance to take her hand? Why, at the end of our brief dates, did she quickly get into her car or house door, saying “goodbye/good night” over her shoulder, and not stop, face me and look at me for 2 seconds, to give me a chance to try for a kiss? Why not even try for a date longer then a mere 2 hours at a time? Why not give me a chance to provide that Romance?

No, I don’t think she gave it enough time. Especially not with me. For other guys maybe it’s enough time. But not me.

But here she was, giving me the age-old rejection speech. Additionally frustrating in the fact that it wasn’t even original. So, the fifth date did NOT happen. In fact, it ruined not only the rest of my night, but the whole weekend, as I’ve been pretty much stewing in it since.

Sure, I’ve been going through the thoughts of joining a monastery… but I don’t think I could do all the praying and chanting. I *have* come to the conclusion that the Internet dating doesn’t work for me… not one bit. So that’s one more road that is closed off. In fact, it really just seems that I really don’t belong in the world of Dating. I know that’s an extreme, because you can’t get to a relationship without the Dating… but when everyone seems to want the one thing I’m not good at giving, how can I get to giving what I *am* good at? (Or at least better at) Sadly, it’s the one thing that the evidence seems to point to, from this view.

I don’t know if I’ll feel better or different in a few days… hopefully I will. But this conclusion is feeling more definitive then ever before.

Just don’t say, “Wait until your forties! THEN they’ll be breaking down your door!” Because you’ll get boot to the head *right now*.

And the next single woman that says she only thinks of me as a friend WILL get the very loud volume-turned-to-11-FUCK YOU!!!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going back to the gutter for awhile. At least it’s more entertaining there.


Anonymous said...

Aw, man! Sorry your last intimate hope just died a painful death.


Valancy Jane said...

Dating is many things. Fun is one of them. Enlightening is another. Cruel is definately one. Liking someone, having interest in someone, even being in love with someone, gives you absolutely no rights to that person.
It's fucking cruel.
Come by for a drink if you like. :)

King's Rabbit said...

I am very sorry to hear about your latest adventure. Wouldst that I could help!

I think the thing that gets me the most about the "friend" speech (which thankfully, I've mostly avoided -- and hope to never hear again, being married!) is that most of the married folk I know, myself included, describe their spouse as their best friend -- or, essentially, all you can be. So yeah, it's a "WTF" kinda thing -- rather catch-22...

V. Riley said...

That's a great point, it hadn't even occurred to me. It pretty much negates the whole "friend" speech... unless these women I'm seeing are just looking for an enemy to have sex with. (Which might explain quite a bit, actually....)

Jewelz said...

Good post. Hang in there!

Ivory Sable and Ash said...

I have friends. Who are guys. Who I would never sleep with.

I also have friends. Who are guys. Who I can fantasize about.

There are people who you can be comfortable with emotionally, and people who you can be comfortable with physically. Sometimes those two don't cross. There are people that I wouldn't mind getting close to that I wouldn't want to have a deep conversation with and vice versa. Very rarely have the two crossed. This may be telling for me, though, haha.

This is not to say that I haven't been close to someone in both ways. That would be a lie. Those people have touched me the deepest (not like that, little nasty!) because there were literally no boundaries.

That, I would say, has little to do with romance and everything to do with intimacy. Romance doesn't allow people to see the other, in my experience. It allows for excitement and adventure, but so does cliff jumping! I don't share my thoughts and feelings with my cliff jumping buddies, haha.

Anyway, keep your head up. Romance is good to have, but it's not necessary. Even if it helps get someone to see you in a light other than "friend" it isn't the end all be all.

Sher said...

Let me say I think you are right about the connection between intimate and intimidate. To be effective, with expert proficiency,in either case one must know the target very well. Physical intimidation, like physical intimacy, requires little more than a basic understanding of the human condition. In fact in both cases the only thing that is considered by the most rank and file and lazy is only the most superficial of concerns... physical satisfaction or harm.

I don't like slasher movies because they are, from a pychology perspective, artless. And I despise phycho thrillers because the perp demonstrates the very fine line between intimacy and intimidation. To be known well enough to be manipulated by another individual is a terrifying prospect. And I suspect the proliferation of pycho-dramas and thrillers (Thank you Mr. Hitchcock) has contributed to a fear of intimacy the same way that chick flicks (Boycott Meg Ryan!)emphasize the supremacy of romance and build unrealistic expectations into an already complicated equation.

Just a thought. I'm a bit of a word geek too.