How to Pick a Lover

Whenever a woman meets a new man, she wonders,
At least for a few seconds, if might he be the one?
—Jayson VanVerten

Ours is a relentlessly romantic culture. The themes of love and the fulfillment it can bring and the despair that follows its loss, are woven into the warp and woof of our heritage, and permeate many facets of our social experience. Little girls grow up on romantic fairy stories, full of charming princesses and handsome princes, exotic castles and dragons to be slain, and those same handsome princes carrying maidens away on white horses. There are gala balls and magic slippers and starlight and the granting of wishes.

Snow White (Disney)

Snow White (Disney) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If the culture in general is romantic, then the world of teenage girls is especially so. Their music reiterates the theme of meeting “the one and only” and romanticizes about how the encounter will be. Rock music puts it to a different beat, but the story line is much the same. The teenage girl is programmed to expect that one day she will grow up, fall in love, get married, and have beautiful babies, hopefully in that order. By the time she is eighteen—or sixteen (or even maybe fourteen)—she is ready to fall in love with someone. The television shows she watches, the movies she goes to, the books she reads—all reassure her that this is what is supposed to happen.

When it happens, but she does not exactly live happily ever after, the same gallery of advisers explains that what she thought was love must have been only infatuation. She is encouraged to try again, this time for the real thing. The brass ring.

Most single women, sixteen or sixty, want to be loved. And just as importantly, they want someone to love. Maybe by more than just one man, but at least one man who inspires them to look carefully at cashmere sweaters when they pass a haberdashery, someone they can think about when they are trying on lingerie, someone to care should they lose ten pounds or gain them.

A woman may or may not want to marry, and she may or may not want to have children; but almost without exception, she wants a certain someone to share with her the joys of a loving friendship. She wants, if nothing else, the exquisite vanity of living under someone else’s gaze.

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