30 Days Challenge: Day 9: Your definition of love

I was going to skip this as ‘trite’ with a sarcastic comment, then I saw an angle to go at it from, so I’m actually going to talk about this.

Firstly, I’m not going to talk about the love for family or friends. Much as both have supported me through so much that I may not be here today without certain members of either group, I think it’s an easier question to answer, much as it is often far more important than romantic love in certain points in one’s life.

Anyway, I think the route to everlasting love goes through two stages. First, you have the douchy-analytical cum optimistic phase, followed later by what I’m going to call the You Did What?! phase.

First, you find someone attractive in one (or more) of three ways: aesthetic appeal, sexual appeal and social appeal.

A lot of people might say that “aesthetic appeal” and “sexual appeal” are the same thing. I disagree. Have you never found someone attractive whom you didn’t want to sleep with? To most people, the answer is yes. To the rest of you, I think you should consider either your standards or your honesty with yourself.

The example I often use for aesthetic appeal is Kiera Knightly. She has an appealing look and a friendly face. I really enjoy watching her in movies and listening to her accent1. That said, I’m not sexually attracted to her. My personal taste runs to women with more womanly curves. A friend once joked that there’d be “nothing to play with” once you had a slender girl like Ms. Knightley in bed. I’d still happily watch her in any movie she popped up in.

Love love love her storyline in Love Actually.

Secondly is sexual attraction. Everyone has their type, interests, turn-ons or whatever else you want to call that spark that makes you Want someone with a capital W. Most people understand that on an instinctive level, so I won’t bother going into here.

Lastly is what I called “social appeal”. It’s not a perfect label, but it represents your desire to talk to someone and to be around them. It’s your desire to be their friend. For some people it’s cinematic, musical, political or comedic compatibility. Whatever it is, it’s that thing that makes friends into best friends and fuck buddies into partners.

This is the clincher, I think, when it comes to love. If you have the last with at least one other type of appeal, you’ve really got something. It’s at this point that many people say the L word. Sometimes it’s a door to pass through to get to the real stuff, other times it’s just new relationship energy given control of the mouth, and in others still it’s a verbalisation of proto-love – the stuff that inevitably leads there, but before the You Did What?! stage.

The You Did What?! stage is the most important one for longevity, I think It’s knowing all the worst, shittiest things about each other and still wanting to curl up together to watch bad TV. If you can survive the worst of your past, then with just a little work, you can survive anything as a team. This stage also involves coming to terms with anything they are or do every day. Perhaps not easy, but if it’s right it’s right. If there’s something you know you can’t live with forever, then you’re just treading water.

Okay, that did turn out a little trite, and you mileage may of course vary. This is my opinion based on a number of needlessly complicated relationships. But basically, love is facing shit as a team, rather than a pair of singles players2.

1I think I’ve spoken on this blog of my love of accents before. Therefore it shall go undiscussed now.
2Ew, sports metaphor! Get it off, get it off!

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The First is the Model for the Rest

Or: Why I Go For Weird Girls

Gamer Girl

Lately, I’ve been reading Lust in Translation. It’s a fascinating, well-researched read with jolly insight from the American journalist who wrote it. It feeds well into interests I gained in a non-conventional relationship I had in the past. If you want my review, that was it.

Anyway, what really inspired me to write this post was the beginning of chapter 3:

In theory, a university-educated white woman (like me) could date and marry an immigrant Mexican laborer who didn’t finish high school. But although I occasionally meet working-class Mexicans, I have had romantic partners who shared my ethnicity, schooling and economic standing. Even when they weren’t American, my boyfriends have been stock analysts and journalists.

The way we sort our sex partners intrigued researchers at the University of Chicago. They wondered how a Mexican man in Chicago, a city of 3 million people, might find that every potential girlfriend he meets comes from the same town in Michoacán. MEanwhile my girlfriends gripe that all the eligible men they know are lawyers from New Jersey.

As I think I have said before, I come from a small village in South Yorkshire, whose people are ex-coal miners and their families. Almost everyone loves football, beer and not being called ‘gay’ by their friends. Therefore, isn’t this the kind of woman I should be attracted to?

This section got me thinking about my relationships, and about what might have affected them. It got me wondering whether our first relationships have a palpable effect on the relationships that follow. As a sample of one, I’d like to submit myself for the study, though I’m far from the first to theorise on this point1.

I think I’ve always been ill at ease with the ‘Come On You Reds!’ environment of my upbringing2. That’s what my mum says, anyway. I think the thing that had the most affect, though, was my first relationship.

My first girlfriend was a close friend of mine when I was 12 years old. Since I was a fat kid who covered his insecurities with stupid jokes, that’s her first point in the ‘weird’ column.

In truth, I don’t really remember much about C from when we first met. The strongest impression I have of her is the cartoon-like character she became in her search for identity during pre-adulthood. I remember watching Wiccan rituals enacted with fruit juice in plastic cups, and I remember her going to our American-style prom in a black lace evening dress she could have stolen from a Victorian widow. I remember her sarcasm, misanthropy, outspoken opinions, poorly-dyed black hair and growing interest in alternative culture. In sum, I remember a strong sense of her differentness, which I think still affects me today: long after I realised that my first love was wholly ridiculous at that delicate time in her life.

What little Internet footprint I can find of her tells me one thing: the people I’ve become close to since then would probably have a lot in common with her.

C was in my life for six years in one role or another; even as a dubious friend when my next relationship started.

The relationship in question started when the girlfriend of a good friend of mine needed to talk to someone about leaving him just as I needed to talk to someone about having been left.

S was kind of a mainstream breath of fresh air after C, although she didn’t exactly go with the flow of the crowd, either. She had a tattoo, several ear-piercings and a belly button bar. At the time, freshly pressed from the grim North, this was amazingly exotic to me. She was (and is) sarcastic, occasionally acerbic, intelligent in a career of morons and with an interest in Gothic fashion. We had a comfortable, if staid time together, where she often humoured my geekier side that grew along with my independence. I suppose that’s why I was initially drawn to E, after far too long a mourning period.

S, along with a couple of my other exes, as one of my best friends, regardless of geography. Although that held back my recovery for a while, I’m glad we were able to stay civil.

The torch I carried? Seems appropriate.

Okay, so on to E. The truth is, I’d carried a little torch for E for a while. Well, maybe not a torch, but it was certainly bigger than a matchstick. Maybe it was just the idea of sitting naked while discussing the likelihood of Romana returning to Doctor Who3.

Anyway, E was an is pierced in several interesting places, is into Doctor Who, roleplaying, LARP, Sherlock Holmes, oh and polyamory4. She has her share of ‘The Crazy’ which either complimented or rubbed up against mine depending on the direction of the wind. I had a crazy, complicated, fun and educational year with E which is still a regular topic in my after-dinner conversations.

During that year, I had two little flings5. One was with a sweet, clever and slightly socially awkward girl who came to my flat to watch Glee. The other was with a strong, passionate roller girl with whom I sometimes regret not having had the courage to pursue something more serious with. They were and are two amazing, weird and sometimes baffling woman who could never be mistaken for each other in any circumstances. Neither would they fit into daytime TV’s narrow sphere of normality, save Glee-girl, who passes only because her shyness hides her intelligence and originality.

I am not going to discuss my experience at the Heaven’s Basement concert, as that is a post or two in and of itself.

Lalla Ward as a vampire. Because I can.The movie is Vampire Circus. If you don’t know who she is, Google is your friend. And I judge you.  

That brings us to this past year, then. First is J. She was my boss at a seasonal ESL school who I mocked for trying to keep a photocopy unstickmaned. She was pierced, tattooed, cynical, just back from Russia and as into me as I was into her. This last was particularly surprising to me, as I can only say for certain that that had happened to me once before. Anyway, we shared the same silly sense of humour, career and plans for the future. She even had previous dealing with my particular brand of the Crazy. Within a month we were in love, engaged, living together and had confirmed jobs in Mexico. Only two of those are still true. Yes, sometimes it is weird, but I only choose the girls who can deal with ‘weird’.

Now there is P, a weird Mexican I met on the Internet who likes ice sculpture, video games, zombie walks and cats. She’s an ex-roller girl who almost moved to Paris for a man. I totally get that. She has tattoos, piercings and cynicism; all of which seem to be prerequisites in my dates.

Again, the relationship is moving ridiculously fast while we come to terms with each other’s Crazy. Hm. There’s a lesson there somewhere.

So, yeah. I’ve had minor-crushes on attractive mainstream(ish) girls, but never ones who can only talk about The X Factor and the Kardashians. They included a Belarusian (discussed before on this blog), a deceptively normal-looking rocker, a fellow teaching student with man issues and a girl with dreadlocks, unshaven armpits and a tendency to fall of the roof when writing poetry. Okay, maybe I don’t go for mainstream girls.

I haven’t made a personal, romance-related blog for a while. They usually turn to angst and self-criticism in my experience. Regardless, writing out my romantic history like this certainly shows that I have a mental type6.

So, maybe C still haunts me today. Maybe she’s why between a girl with pink hair and tattoos or a girl with blonde hair and fashionable clothes, I’ll always as Pink Hair for directions. An alternative, of course, is that I’m just looking for someone as abnormal as myself. Pot-AY-to, pot-AH-to.

Assuming anyone is reading this: have you had the same experience? Looking back with honesty, is there one kind of person; one model of personality that you keep coming back to? How far can you trace it back? Why do you love the people you love?

 

1  One and Two, for example.
2 Come on you Reds!
3 A lady of my acquaintance is due a thorough induction in the not-so-distant future. 
4 Polyamory from Miriam-Webster: ” the state or practice of having more than one open romantic relationship at a time.”
5 A reminder – Polyamory from Miriam-Webster: ” the state or practice of having more than one open romantic relationship at a time.”
6 Though not a physical one, but I think posting pictures would be undignified.