Modern Romance as a Multi-Course Meal

Gone are the days when food was simple and the goal was to be satiated until your next meal. The culinary world has developed so vastly that nowadays, you can get a multi-course meal at practically any establishment, anytime, anywhere. Like modern romance, we now have the freedom to date, grow, and move on to the next one if it doesn’t work out – almost a complete opposite of what a “romance” used to be. Olden days in many cultures, marriage was either arranged at birth or further down during adolescence by parents/guardians. Oftentimes, to-be couples wouldn’t even meet each other until their wedding day and in those cases, one can only cross their fingers and hope for the best. It was the norm for society to decide that it’s time for you to wed or if your parents found the marriage beneficial to their family or business, it was never about you. Divorce wasn’t even an option as you’d either be considered a “sinner” in some religions and cultures or you’d be shunned and disowned by your family because divorce was viewed as “shameful.”

In today’s world, we’ve learned to conquer our fates and tell society “no, that one wasn’t for me” but some of us still haven’t learned to exercise our freedom to leave because of some extra “baggage.” How many people out there feel the urge to wed or to be in a relationship just because the world says “it’s right” or “it’s about time?” How many people out there feel the need to stay in a relationship because of the children or financial dependency? How many people out there feel the pressure to stay married because you’re legally bound by that stupid sheet of paper or your friends and family would be “devastated” if you two split up? These are some things that people don’t often talk about because quite frankly, nobody likes to air their dirty laundry, but I’ve never been one to mind. Someone’s got to say it because otherwise, there will be many more out there that still believe it’s okay to stay in an unfulfilling relationship just because society and your biological clock says you should stay together.

Let’s go back to our meal for a moment, we’ll take the most basic three-course meal and dissect it. We start out with either some soup or salad or an appetizer, just to get our palates running and to be honest, this is usually where I already begin to fill up. In my opinion, this is the most satisfying part of the meal because assuming that I arrived hungry, this is my first contact with food, which makes me the most excited even when sometimes the food wasn’t even that good but at this point, I’m extremely happy because I’m finally eating. Next, is our main course, which normally takes a bit more work and time to consume because it’s a bigger portion than the appetizer – about half-way through is where I usually get full and tired and ready for bed. At this point, we can pretty much determine how much we’re enjoying or not enjoying our meal based on the quality of the main course – I often find myself enjoying the appetizer more because I actually wanted food then, but by the time the main course arrives, I just feel like I have to eat it because it’s there and that’s technically what I came for, even though I am no longer hungry. No matter how much I ate throughout the meal though, I always have room for the final course, dessert. It’s not that I need it nor do I always want it, but I always somehow make room for dessert because I’ve become accustomed to having dessert after my main course and a meal can feel incomplete without it.

Now, in a relationship, we have the courting/dating phase where two people are just completely infatuated with each other and try to consume as much of each other as humanly possible simply because they are just so smitten – this is the appetizer, aka the “honeymoon” phase. We begin the relationship in hunger, hungry for attention, hungry for affection, and hungry for appreciation. We spend much of our energy and devotion during this phase because it’s our first shot, our first impression, our first memory. Faults and incompatibility practically don’t exist because we’re so focused on what’s ahead instead of what’s dancing around us. Next comes the main course, aka the “journey” phase. As we get to know one another better, some things just happen to sync and creates a smokescreen of things being “just right.” When things are “just right,” we often forget or neglect the reality of having to grow and progress. We’re in a cyclical situation where we’re together, some days are good, some days are not so good, but we’re still together because we already are. We never really know when or if it’s time to quit. The most difficult part to get right is the “settling” phase. Much like my dessert situation, sometimes we don’t need or even want it, but we feel that we should do it because everyone else is doing it. By the time a relationship reaches this stage, it boils down to “do I actually want to spend the rest of my life with this person? or am I afraid of being alone, alone?”

I’m sure many out there aren’t too fond of the idea of all of their friends and loved ones pairing off while they’re still single, but the reality is, it’s okay to be single. What’s not okay is settling for something less than what you deserve, or settling for something that’s not broken but also not in the greatest shape just because you don’t want to be left behind. The appetizer might’ve been great, the main course was questionable, and by the time dessert arrives, you’re not even sure you still want it. Why not say, “I’ll pass on dessert, I’ll try another restaurant next time,” or “the meal wasn’t that great, dessert probably won’t even meet my expectations?” Why not say, “we’re already having so many unsolved problems, getting married won’t fix anything” or “this was fun while it lasted, but I can’t imagine the rest of my life being this way?” You don’t eat just one meal in your lifetime, you can make the best of it but if it isn’t that great, why force yourself to keep eating?

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