Courtly love: #1 Admiration at an arm’s length vs the 20%.

23 Feb

Or are we in the same place that we were centuries ago???

In the Middle Ages, knights followed the tenants of courtly love: 

1. Worshiping from afar
2. daring acts of chivalry
3. declarations of devotion i.e. poems, flowers, songs, and “sweet favors”
4. the relationship was kept a secret and thus could be between any noble lord or lady, regardless of their relationship status.

In modern day times there are many parallels to the above in every stage of life and societal microcosm. Let’s take them one by one.

I would bet on a daily basis people continue to love  and worship from afar. I have all of my life. When I was in sixth grade the boy I had a crush on was nothing less than dreamy. He had a dimple when he smiled and he was the tallest guy my age (consequently I have not lost my penchant for height as I have grown up). It was of no consequence to me that his brother was a professional country club life guard who smoked so much weed he rarely formed complete thoughts or even sentences. He was more of an adjective talker, “Rad!” “Deluxe”.

We definitely loved at a distance as close as most got was also the definitive moment in the  “relationship”. A poignant handwritten number 2 pencil note: “Do you like me?” or maybe if you were more of a deal sealer: “Will you go with me?” followed by the classic check box configuration: Yes, No, or Maybe. What on earth did you ever do with “Maybe”?? I guess it was the original anti-rejection technique, my my, we learn so early. This 6th grade crush definitely made it to the note but not beyond although we agreed to “go together”. When my parents heard the news they always asked where exactly I was going and even more importantly how was my 12 year old self going to get there with this other (hopefully) equally  non mobile  gent? My response to these inquiries were consistent with most preteens and usually involved loud exhales and eye rolling and possibly a chastising “MoooooommmmmMM!!!”

In the two decades that have followed I have loved and adored many more from afar, hoping that one day one of these guys would take notice and be more bold than the paper check box. Some of them have even been way closer than an arm’s length. The good friend, the study buddy, the running partner, the lab partner, the boy who just faded away, but I was too proud, scared, or maybe insecure to bring him back or for others demand they take notice. Why have I never followed the romantic in my head? Is it tremendous self doubt? Cynicism? Laziness? Maybe a bothersome combination of all three?

I was recently told by my massage therapist that I should act like a “player” and play the numbers game. He went on to further explain that out of 10 girls he expect 3-4 to actually respond to him and at best 2 of them to be people that he would want to actually hang out with. If nothing else that definitely destroys the idea of the “one”. Although, it does sound a bit more likely to say the “20%”.

I often wonder if I watch too many romantic comedies? “Too many” being loosely defined as more than none. These amazing tails of happily ever after where everyone ends up with their best friend (or in poor Katherine Heigl and Matthew McConaughey’s cases a manipulative reporter) just encourages a whimsical hope that makes the scientist inside my head scream in outrage due to it’s lack of realistic possibility.

Maybe we all should take bold initiative to close the gap with those we admire from afar, however, I am not quite ready to for that lest I might not ever experience #2…


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