Wednesday, November 20, 2013

We live in a truly amazing time. A time of technology and instant access to, well, everything. If we want it, we can usually get it there and then and if we can’t we can probably at least order it online there and then! But there is one thing that continues to elude some in the fast paced rat race we call life and that is of course ….Love.

In days long past  it might have been as simple as glancing across a room and locking eyes with that one person who locked eyes back while for others, like a very great love story, it involved some kind of struggle or adversity, but in the end love triumphed. BUT for others, the all elusive ‘love’ has become stressful, fraught with anxiety, stress, worry and confusion.

We may live in an age where we can see everyone’s profile, what they look like and, irritatingly, what they had for breakfast, but with the rising number of divorces, growing depression and loneliness and general feeling of detachment that many singles are feeling, when it comes to finding love are we really better off?

When you speak to your grandparents and in same cases even your parents about how they met, they speak of local dances, or double dating and chaperoned trips to the movies. People seemed to fall in love more often and easier without the complication of his/her ugly profile pic or finding some differing political view after stalking their Facebook profile. Somehow, it seems, that society now finds it acceptable for each person to have a ‘list’ and hard copy or mental page of tick boxes that a potential lover must at least be able to fill the majority of the page.

Someone I know, who shall remain nameless (for fear she will kill me), has one such list. It’s extensive, complicated and to be honest utterly unrealistic. Yet she stands by said list with vigour and should a potential date not tick one of the major items then he is out the door without a second thought. Strange??? Apparently not, because it seems that more and more are adopting just such an approach.

In Shanghai there are actually organised ‘Expo’s’ that offer singles seeking an ‘appropriate’ partner the opportunity to not only come along, but bring their entire family in order to find Mr or Mrs Right. It’s called the Annual Love and Marriage Expo, but there seems to be very little love in the atmosphere at these events that feel more like and business or career event.

According to CNN these gatherings, that attract a staggering amount of singles – in the thousands, are so big that they have to be held in a shopping complex! With as many parents roaming around looking for ‘suitable’ candidates for their children as there are singles themselves, many flock to the many billboards that display not only pictures, but essential information such as age, height, education and yes, you guessed, that most important piece, annual income. (See full article here)

With speed dating on offer for many who have never even had a date before, love, romance and the old fashioned, ‘getting to know each other’ are not only forgotten, but seem impossible.
While we might laugh or scoff at how absurd it sounds, we need to ask ourselves, is this merely a more extreme version of ticking all the boxes? Is this what many singles with long lists of criteria are doing anyway? Perhaps it is a little more subtly or justified as trying to weed out Mr or Mrs Wrong, but are we in fact treating love and chemistry as something of a job and person specification? Could we be cheating ourselves out of finding the absolute most perfect person for us simply because a box or two has not been ticked?

As a  Marriage Celebrant I am privileged to spend my time with people who have been lucky enough to find that elusive ‘true love’ and surprisingly more and more are finding it in unusual places. Love, it seems, is now commonly being found on our computer screens, mobile devices and social media sites. This is of course in addition to chat rooms and online dating sites.

The days of local dances or a man asking a woman for a dance and inviting her for coffee and a chat are few and far between.

In the long run, love is love no matter how it comes about, but I think we have to hope for the sake of every good love story that has been told through the generations, that criteria checklists do not become so important that Annual Marriage Conventions or Expo’s become the only way to meet the ‘right’ partner.

Susan xo