How to Pick a Lover

Posts tagged ‘ennui’

Escape from Ennui: The Lover as Tourist Guide

When you are safe at home, you wish you were having an adventure; when you’re having an adventure, you wish you were safe at home.
—Thornton Wilder

Sometimes, what a woman is seeking in a love affair is simply adventure. What does “adventure” mean to you  personally?

One of my more adventuresome lady friends may have read too much Ernest Hemingway at an impressionable age as she has always thought of an African safari, complete with lions, tigers, and elephants as the epitome of adventure. In her fantasy, there would be something slithery and lethal in the grass which she almost steps on but then does not because, at the last moment, a great white hunter sweeps her out of harm’s way, at least out of the way of the kind of harm that comes from a literal snake in the grass. She imagines the great white hunter looks a lot like George Clooney, but he might also resemble a bearded Matthew McConaughey. Either way, he is the master of his environment, strong but gentle, and his presence allows her the paradoxical privilege of being able to take risks while being quite safe. The adventure is filled with tropical sunsets and tropical nights. Interestingly, the concomitant tropical insects do not get equal time in her fantasy. I suspect my friend might very well fly to Nairobi for safari on two hours’ notice should I suggest it to her.

This same friend once took a sojourn to the South Side of Chicago at four in the morning, looking around with big eyes and expecting any kind of hassle to break out at any moment. A funky jazz club on the South Side is an exotic place for a straight white woman and is not all that secure, except that she was with not one but two all-American football types who were African-American with a certain don’t-tread-on-me air about them. She found that situation to be an adventure, just as the time she persuaded a racing car driver to give her a helmet and let her go with him on some early morning practice laps. She reported that even a zoom lens and a three-dimensional screen do not approximate the sense of speed that comes from actually being in the car.

Romance Over Paris

Romance Over Paris (Photo credit: starbuck77)

There is a definite appeal to a lover who not only offers you the excitement of a new relationship but also the excitement of doing something quite different from what you could otherwise do. The problem with such fantasies is that a real-life person who offers these enticements may not be a particularly desirable lover in other ways.

If what you are seeking is adventure, then you must accept that specific goal as a priority and not expect to also enter the realm of the senses unless you are very, very lucky.

To sort out these issues, ask yourself a simple question. Do you want to be with him? Do you want to do things and go places with him that have nothing to do with being adventurous? Does the great white hunter become boring when you imagine him tending a backyard barbecue?

Suppose you are finally sailing into the harbor in Tonga after a lifetime of dreaming about the South Pacific. You feel happy and excited especially because you are doing it in the full glory of a tropical sunset. Your euphoria makes you look with great benevolence upon the man who just happens to be standing beside you at the ship’s rail. Tonga is exciting, but it is easy to get confused and let yourself believe that the man you have met in Tonga is therefore exciting too. Many ill-fated shipboard romances flounder when you finally realize that the excitement of such a lover was in the exotic situation, not in the man himself.

In spite of such hazards, for some kinds of interludes, the lover who acts as a tour guide can be very appealing.

And sometimes, of course, you do find to your delight that he looks as good over a backyard barbecue as he did at the luau on the beach. It is just as likely, however, that the man with the sun-bronzed body, who strolled the white sand beaches of the South Pacific with you during a glorious sunset, may be far less appealing when he is strolling with you on the cold gray pavement of New York City on a dark winter day bundled in clothing.

Being Single Can Be Boring

If your morals make you dreary, depend upon it they are wrong.
—Robert Louis Stevenson

When we think of the life of the modern unmarried woman, we see her as having many more options for excitement than would have been her lot in earlier generations. She doesn’t have to live at home if she doesn’t want to. She’s most likely free to go to college or to get a job, and there’s a wide range of courses that she can take or occupations she can choose. From the outside, it can seem quite interesting, and so it is for many women. It’s also true, however, that even relative emancipation doesn’t prevent quiet desperation and doesn’t cure ennui.

There are many things that she can theoretically do, but in actuality, the daily round may be quite repetitive. Going to college sounds like fun until you remember that even with a college degree, very few women who work are international CEOs or fashion buyers just off to Paris to see the spring collections. Most of them, in fact, are confined to cubicles or small offices working as midlevel managers, executive assistants, or accountants committed to routine and repetitive tasks day after day. Computers may be fascinating, but writing software code or conducting systems analysis offers limited intellectual creativity or emotional appeal.

English: A bored person

A bored person (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When you cannot change the circumstances of your life or are not yet willing to try to do so, then one aspect of your life, which is open to change, is your love life. You can consider a new lover. If as a history major you must spend all of Tuesday morning listening to someone recount the development of the Civil War between the States, then you can at least spend Tuesday afternoon in bed with an aspiring physicist who promises not to breathe a word about reconstructionism or carpetbaggers.

Being an unmarried woman with a career of some sort, or at least a job, may make it less likely that you’ll be bored than if you’re a housewife; but it’s no guarantee that you won’t. You may still have to work forty hours a week at a boring job that provides few emotional rewards. With the right lover, you can at least look forward to an exciting Saturday night and Sunday morning.

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