Heartache to heartache we stand
No promises, no demands
Love is a Battlefield, Pat Benatar
Growing up on a strict diet of fairy tales, the concept of happily ever-after was a pillar of my young belief system. The medieval inspired illustrations in my books showed courtly love, perfect in its lost world of rose gardens, shining knights and robed ladies. One day, I’d also have a grand adventure ending with a wedding in a cream-puff dress which my Princess Barbie would be proud to wear (and I’m still waiting).
The rules of courtly love died hundreds of years ago but not the game. Keeping up with the rules of love has proved impossible. Each season brings another groundbreaking TV show (SATC and Girls, for example) or dating app (RSVP, Oasis, Grindr, Blendr, Tinder et al) which once again shift the cultural paradigm that human hearts are breaking in, and we have to figure out the rules once again.
To be fair to the online dating scene, the men I dated for a period of time were awesome people, and kinder than men I’d met in “real life”situaltions. There were only two really bad dates. The first bad datee* was identifiable on sight as soulless, purely by the fact there was nothing interesting about him. He then spent 45 minutes confirming my gut reaction, so I left incredulous that a person like that actually existed outside of D-grade soap operas. The second bad datee was with a musician with at least 10 years on me. In the month leading up to the meeting he’d be sending me romantic songs (he composed and sang himself) and cute stories about his dog. In life he seemed fine, even if it wasn’t going anywhere. At precisely one hour into the date he looked at his watch, called time and RAN out the door kicking up a trail of dust behind him like little Speedy Gonzales. The bartender’s mouth dropped open as I died a little inside. Needless to say, I gave up on dating for a good six months after that.
Now with Tinder, swiping happens so fast that you accidentally let the good ones slide past when you are on a left swipe roll. Whether people are on there for sex, friendship or true love, everyone is immediately replaceable. The sheer volume and convenience means you are shopping at KMart for connection. But true, fairytale kind of love is as exclusive, valuable and rare as haute couture.
What the People Say
Find out more about the original rule book and courtly love
A short, educational cartoon called Tinderella
*(if datee is not a word yet, I’m inventing it. OED, please note)