The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. This video is a just a brief message to help welcome a new year while reflecting on the years that came before. Enjoy!
Tag Archives: finding love
Finding Love Has Become An Extended Job Interview (And For Good, Yet Unromantic Reasons)
Being a self-professed romantic and an aspiring erotica/romance writer, I often scrutinize the nature of romance more than most. Whereas some might watch a movie or TV show and see the basics of a romantic sub-plot, I’ll dig much deeper. I’ll identify which romances are inherently flawed, why some work beautifully, and why love triangles are inherently awful.
That scrutiny goes beyond media, popular culture, and my own efforts to tell a good love story. I often find myself observing how romance unfolds in real life. Whether it’s how people have pursued romance in the past to my own romantic endeavors, there’s a lot to break down and it doesn’t always make sense. Love isn’t known for being rational, after all.
It’s because of this tendency of mine that I notice things that rarely come up in discussions about romance. Recently, I realized something profound while reading several stories about how modern dating has changed in recent years, of which there are many.
Modern romance has become more a job interview than an emotional journey.
I imagine some will roll their eyes at that notion. Some might even agree with it and not need any convincing. A few probably think I’m giving this too much thought, even for a romance fan. That may be a fair point, but I believe the evolution of modern romance is becoming a lot less romantic.
To be fair, finding has undergone many upheavals throughout history. It wasn’t until the past couple centuries that people actually married for love. Those who claim to champion “traditional” marriage probably aren’t aware that marriage and formal relationships were little more than passionless business contracts for most of human history.
Love and romance were always there. We, as human beings, are hardwired to form loving bonds. It just took different forms and people went about it in very different ways. Most people have a general idea of how people go about it today. It tends to go something like this.
- Two people meet, either in person or online
- There’s a spark of attraction
- They both pursue each other
- They go on dates to learn about one another and explore their romantic connection
- If the connection is strong enough, they forge a lasting relationship and build a life together
Granted, this is an exceedingly gross simplification. It still covers most of the basics. That’s the problem, though. It only deals with the basics and people are rarely basic.
It starts shortly after a mutual attraction is established. Once two people start pursuing one another, the dating phase starts. Movies, TV shows, and romance novels tend to be vague about how this unfolds. However, it’s here where the parallels with job interviews start to show.
While a love story may depict candle-lit dinners, coordinated dancing, and intimate gestures, the bulk of that process tends to involve more pragmatic acts. For two people to understand whether they’re romantically compatible, they need to get to know one another. To get to know one another, they need to interact.
That, in and of itself, doesn’t make dating indistinguishable from a job interview. For that, the modern structure of relationships is what fosters that and I’m not just referring to marriage. This affects couples who cohabitate, as well as those who are serial monogamists.
From a logistical standpoint, a modern romance has many moving parts. It’s not enough to just be attracted to one another, enjoy each other’s company, or have great sex. People often have to find a way to fit one another into their lives. There are jobs, career aspirations, and living situations to consider.
These days, people aren’t as likely to stay in the same place they were born in, especially if the opportunities in that town are limited. The same goes for their families. Even if they stay, sometimes their parents or extended family move away. Maybe it’s for retirement, going to college, or pursuing their own romantic interests. Having to accommodate all that into a relationship can be daunting.
In the same way you might be qualified for a job, but not in a position to take it, you might find yourself in a similar relationship with romance. All the emotional, physical, and sexual chemistry is there. However, you’re just not in a position to pursue it. You can’t maintain that relationship when you’re both living in other time zones or pursuing different paths.
That’s not to say long distance relationships can’t work, but it’s like trying to do a job remotely. There’s only so much you can do when you’re not present. If that weren’t the case, everyone would work from home or from a tropical paradise. I that as someone who has been unable to pursue major opportunities and broken up from good relationships due to distance.
Even if you can work around issues of distance and time, there’s also the matter of becoming entwined with family affairs. As the “Meet The Parents” trilogy so hilariously demonstrates, being with someone is rarely just about being with them, individually. At some point, if the romance is to be serious, their family will get involved.
That process can be as complicated as matching qualifications for a specialized job on a resume. You’ve got to make sure both families can get along. They can’t just tolerate each other at the wedding or during the holidays. They have to be capable of co-existing in a way that doesn’t undercut the romance.
It’s very similar from having a job that matches your skill set, but for an organization that is just insufferable. A lot of people have had to endure jobs they hated, even if they paid well or matched their various talents. When the organization within the job is awful, then even a dream job can be awful.
You can love someone with all your heart. You might even have someone your family loves. However, if your lover’s family is an absolute pain, then the romance will suffer. Now that relationships aren’t just business arrangements, we have to navigate around one another’s lives and their families. To do that, it’s necessary to treat dating like a job interview.
You have figure out if this person fits into your life.
You have to figure out if their hopes, dreams, and abilities match what you’re looking for.
You have to prove that your hopes, dreams, and abilities match theirs as well.
You have to determine whether you fit into the organization of their life and their family.
Ultimately, you have to build that shared life together around all of that, knowing that breaking up/being fired/quitting comes with a personal/professional cost.
On the surface, it’s hardly romantic. At the same time, there’s an undeniable pragmatism to it. As society has evolved, complete with more egalitarian gender roles and fewer taboos about being single, we’re in a better position to chart our own romantic path. We don’t just have to settle for limited options and few opportunities. We can dare to seek something greater.
As a byproduct, the basic romantic elements of intimate chemistry can never be enough. It’s necessary, if not unavoidable, to assess a prospective lover’s entire life to determine of that romance is even viable. It’s not easy and it’s exceedingly imperfect, as the rate of divorce and abusive relationships indicates.
However, being the romantic I am, I still say it’s worth pursuing. That process is still very likely to change as society, technology, and attitudes change. The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are sure to change it even more. Whether it becomes more or less like a job interview remains to be seen.
Filed under gender issues, human nature, Love Or Obsession, psychology, romance
Finding Love During A Pandemic: A Love Story To Lift Your Spirits
I’m a long-time romance fan. I hope I’ve made that abundantly clear by now. I’m also still striving to become a romance writer. Between the books I’ve written and the sexy short stories I’ve told, the ideas are there, as well as the effort. This passion of mine has not changed, despite the deeply demoralizing impact of 2020.
I know things got quite bleak last year. I don’t deny all that bleakness got to me. There really was no guide to how to deal with a once-in-a-century pandemic. Once things started getting locked down and people I knew fell ill, it really hit me hard. This was bad. This was historically bad. Naturally, it seriously undermined my ability to enjoy romance.
Romance is about connection, hope, and intimacy. The events of the pandemic were the complete antithesis of all of that. It was not easy to navigate, to say the least. That’s coming from someone who was lucky enough to not get it.
However, now that vaccines are rolling out and I recently got mine, I find myself emerging from the soul-crushing feelings that plagued me last year. It has also inspired me to recapture my love of romance, both real and fictional.
To that end, I’d like to share a real life love story that captured all the right feels for romantics and non-romantics alike. On top of that, it’s a love story that played out during the worst parts of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s quite possibly the least romantic setting imaginable, but love still found a way.
This story comes courtesy of NJ.com and involves an elderly couple who’d known each other for years, but found love during the worst possible times. Check out the story for yourself. If it doesn’t warm your hardened heart, then I question your humanity.
NJ.com: N.J. sweethearts found love in their 90s — right at the start of the pandemic
This is a story on how it is never too late to find love, and how even the worst of times can serve as the catalyst.
Bill Biega is 98. Iris Ivers is 91.
Their longtime friendship was blossoming into romance by March 2020. That’s when the coronavirus pandemic prompted a stay-at-home order at the Applewood continuing care retirement community in Freehold, where they resided in separate apartments.
Bill and Iris quickly realized they couldn’t stay apart, resulting in an awkward encounter more befitting a college dorm.
“A security guard caught me sneaking back into my apartment,” explained Bill Biega, who will turn 99 in July.
The guard told him that everyone on the floor knew what was going on and gave the furtive couple a choice: Move in together, or stay apart indefinitely.
Iris packed up her belongings and joined Bill in his apartment the next day.
Just over a year later, both are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The stay-at-home order has been lifted but Bill and Iris are still living together, a choice prompted by a pandemic that neither could have imagined. A ray of light, amid so much loss.
Iris described Bill’s one-bedroom apartment as “cozy for two.”
“I can’t imagine us not being together, as long as we can be. We’re also realistic, and we know that we’re not getting any younger,” Iris said.
I’ll say it again. Love is a beautiful thing. It’s also powerful. Even the worst pandemic in a century can’t stop it. At a time when we’re all starting to emerge from this year-long nightmare, we need stories like this. We need to be reminded that love is real and people can find it, even during the worst situations.
Let’s take comfort in that as we build a new normal.
To Bill and Iris, thank you for sharing this story. We all needed it.
Filed under Current Events, real stories, romance, Uplifting Stories
How I Would Propose To The Love Of My Life
We all like to think we know exactly what we’ll say to the love of our life when we first meet them. We also like to think we’ll know exactly what we’ll say when we propose, along with where and how we’ll go about it. Whether you’re a romantic or not, we all entertain those perfect moments, even if the prospect of realizing them seems so distant.
Being a self-proclaimed romantic who writes erotica romance novels and sexy short stories, I suspect I contemplate those moments more than most. I know it’s somewhat taboo for straight men to admit they think about such things, let alone act on them, but I believe men are more romantically inclined than most people think. There are plenty real-life stories of heartfelt romantic gestures that prove that.
I sincerely hope that one day, I’ll find someone with which I can share such gestures. As corny as it may sound, I believe in love. I watch it in my favorite movies and read about it in my favorite comics. I also see it in real life with friends and family members who have met the love of their lives. The way they describe their love is greater than anything I could ever put into a story.
Even if that kind of love is the exception rather than the norm, it’s still something I want to pursue. I don’t know when or if I’ll ever achieve it, but I intend to leave my heart open and ready for when it comes. Should that love come along, I’ve already contemplated how I would go about proposing to her. Since it involves the holidays, I thought this would be a great time to share this sentiment.
Before I do, just know that this is going to be cheesy. It’s going to be dramatic and full of romantic fluff, inspired by someone who watched more romance movies than any straight man will admit to seeing. I don’t care either way. This is how I would go about forging the perfect moment to propose to the love of my life.
The setting begins under the guise of a trip. I tell my love that I’d like to go to the annual Christmas tree lighting at Rockefeller Center in New York City. I intend to purchase two VIP access tickets and reserve a hotel suite in the heart of the city. If she agrees, I then organize the next part of the spectacle.
I initially present it as a romantic getaway to get us in the holiday spirit. Perhaps it’s not even the first time we’ve made the trip. The idea is to make sure she doesn’t suspect anything out of the ordinary. Before we even fly out to New York, however, I secretly coordinate with the necessary personnel to ensure there’s a private area for us to share at some point during our visit.
While this area is prepared, we make the trip. We enjoy the sights and spectacles of New York, taking in the holiday festivities. I make sure we’ve got the best seats we can get for the lighting. We cheer with the crowds as the ceremony unfolds. Afterwards, we take advantage of the VIP tickets I bought to take a private tour of Rockefeller Center.
We proceed with the tour like any ordinary couple. Then, once we get to the tree, the rest of the VIPs disperse, as I’ve secretly organized with the tour guide. From there, I guide my love to a private area in front of the tree. Then, while looking up at its beautiful lights and marvelous decorations, I take her hand and tell her how much she means to me.
I try my best to put into words the breadth of my love for her. When words finally fail me, I get down on one knee, present her with a velvet box containing a beautiful diamond ring, and ask her to merry me. When she joyously accepts, I make it a point to memorize every aspect of her reaction.
From there, I place the ring on her finger. We kiss under the light of the tree and seal our love in a way that makes every holiday even more special.
I know it’s cheesy as hell. It might not even be that practical, given how crowded it gets at Rockefeller Center during the Christmas Tree lighting. I’d have to sell a lot of novels to make something like this happen, but if I really do meet a woman that I love with all my heart, then that’s a price I’m willing to pay.
That kind of love is worth it. On top of that, it would make the holidays even more memorable than they already are. In terms of romantic moments, I can’t think of anything more fitting. I just hope I have a chance to share it with that special someone.
How To Make A Man Feel Loved
People seek out love. Whether you’re a man, woman, transgender, or just anyone with human emotions, we have an inherent drive to connect with one another. Whether it’s emotional or physical, we are wired to desire such intimate connections. It’s an integral part of being human.
I suspect most reasonable people would agree with that sentiment. Humans are social creatures. Both science and general experience make that abundantly clear. The disagreements tend to occur on the nature, process, and exercise of those intimate bonds. What some think of as love may come off as obsession to someone else. I’ve tried to be mindful of that difference, both within real and fictional romance.
Things only get trickier when you apply gender differences to the concept of seeking love. In a perfect world, there would be no differences, but we don’t live in that world. In today’s complicated web of social norms, traditions, gender politics, stereotypes, and taboos, how you go about pursuing love and feeling loved varies considerably by gender.
Now, I can’t speak to how women or those who identify as transgender approach that process. I am a heterosexual man. I can only speak to my own experiences, some of which I’ve shared in the past. I certainly can’t claim to speak for all men, either. Everyone is different, complete with their own romantic quirks and kinks.
However, in contemplating various gender issues and social taboos, I feel like there’s a growing disconnect surrounding the idea of masculinity, being in love, and what it means to feel loved. Some of that has to do with the current state of identity politics and loaded terms like “toxic masculinity,” a concept I’ve done plenty to criticize before. Other issues, I believe, run much deeper.
For me, being the self-admitted romantic I am, it comes back to what it means to feel loved. People can argue what love is until the end of time. I’ll leave those discussions to smarter, more capable individuals with a better understanding of philosophy. Instead, I want to focus on what it means for men, in general, to feel loved.
As a man with a modest amount of romantic experience, I think men are held to a very different standard. Some of it isn’t fair, but women and transgender individuals can probably make that same claim. With men, I believe those standards are rarely scrutinized and easily misconstrued.
To understand how, you need only refer to Chris Rock’s
2018 Netflix special, “Tamborine.” In it, he made this memorable observation about men and how they are loved.
“Only women, children, and dogs are loved unconditionally. Men are loved under the condition that they provide something.”
In addition to being both hilarious and insightful, this sentiment reflects the unique challenges that men face when it comes to love. It’s not always overt and oftentimes, it’s inadvertent. Some of these issues are just woven into social norms that go back to certain pre-modern traditions about family structure.
Whatever their source, society never stops evolving. How people interact and relate to one another will keep adapting to changing circumstances and make no mistake, those circumstances will change rapidly in the coming years. That’s going to impact how men, women, and everyone in between relates to one another and not always for the better.
With that in mind, I’d like to start a discussion on what men seek in pursuing love and how to go about making men feel loved. I know the media, popular culture, and even a recent movie centered around men’s thoughts have given us many impressions. In the interest of streamlining the discussion, I’d like to offer a brief list of insights and approaches for making a man feel loved.
Again, this list is hardly definitive. I’m just one heterosexual man. I’m sure there are plenty of other men out there with different experiences who can offer far greater insights. If you’d like to share those insights, please post them in the comments. For now, here are just a few small ways to help a man feel loved and inspire him to love others.
Make His Efforts And Contributions Feel Valued (And Not Just Expected)
This one is subtle, but powerful. Watch any sitcom, from “Married With Children” to “Leave It To Beaver,” and the man of the family is usually the sole provider. Regardless of how you feel about this family structure, be it a hallmark of tradition or a byproduct of a patriarchal conspiracy, the sentiment comes off as more of an assumption rather than a contribution.
Even if a man works his ass off every day, whether it’s digging ditches or selling women’s shoes like Al Bundy, that work isn’t always valued. It’s just expected. It’s just what a man is supposed to do. Him wanting any other kind of affirmation is just seen as excessive or a byproduct of a fragile male ego. However, such assumptions only breed resentment.
In almost any other situation, we seek and hope for acknowledgement of our sacrifices. We want our labor, be it physical or emotional, to feel valued. It’s part of being a social species and is not contingent on gender. A man isn’t going to feel loved if what he contributes is always taken for granted.
It doesn’t have to be glowing praise. It just has to be an acknowledgement of his efforts. That makes him feel good about the contributions he makes and will only make him work harder at returning the favor, which is good for any healthy love.
Treat Him As A Partner And Not An Asset
This idea manifests in many ways, the most obvious being instances of women seeking men for the sole purpose of gaining access to their money and resources. This sort of thing isn’t new. That kind of power dynamic goes back to ancient times when wealthy kings saw women as assets just as much as they saw his wealth as an asset.
We don’t live in ancient times anymore. While we still have rich men using their wealth to hook up with beautiful women, this issue often arises among those who are not rich. Relationships may start out as loving and intimate, but can descend into a bland business partnership where the man is nothing more than a buffer against poverty.
It’s true that a man can bring things like money, resources, and the siring children to a relationship. However, that can’t be the only things of value. If men are reduced to just the things they do, then they’re not going to feel loved. They’re going to feel like a tool, one who can be easily replaced by anyone of greater means.
That’s often why men get concerned, jealous, or even paranoid when their lover treats them more like a tradeable asset rather than an equal partner. Even those who champion equality often fall into a trap that focuses only on the tangible components of that relationship. Since love is inherently intangible, it can leave things feeling unbalanced.
Don’t Treat His Interests And Hobbies As Stupid Or Juvenile
When it comes to men’s interests, there’s often a sense that they’re always immature or crude. Sports, video games, and comic books are seen as something for children. Mature men are expected to outgrow them and embrace other interests more befitting of adults. However, it’s often the case that those interests align with those favored by women.
People have all sorts of hobbies, be it watching football, building birdhouses, or trash talking one another while playing video games. While some are healthier than others, denigrating them just sends the message that you want men to build their interests around you. It’s akin to wanting them to want to do the dishes rather than just doing the dishes. One requires courtesy. The other requires the thought police.
All good relationships require some level of sacrifice, but when one side is expected to sacrifice something they love and cherish, it gives the impression that they’re not loved for who they are. They’re only loved for what someone else wants them to be. It also implies that the only way for men to love someone is for them to make their significant other the center of their world.
That may count as romance in a fairy tale, but in the real world, that’s dangerously close to obsession. Most men seeking love aren’t looking for that kind of relationship. They’re seeking someone who will love them for who they are, which includes their hobbies.
That doesn’t mean you have to share in those hobbies. If you do, that’s a nice bonus. That shouldn’t be a deal-breaker, though. A man who can keep loving the things he loves and share some of that love with someone else is going to make him that much more appreciative.
Don’t Assume He Can/Should Fix Everything
When your car breaks down, you take it to a mechanic. When your toilet backs up, you call a plumber. Most people don’t give that a second thought. The fact that many mechanics and plumbers are men is beside the point, although I’m sure that colors our perceptions about what people who fix things look like.
In any relationship, things are going to break. That’s just life. However, when the burden of fixing everything falls on the man, it creates another imbalance that can compound a bad situation.
Regardless of whether you think men are more inclined to fix things, just assuming that they can further reduces a relationship to roles. If you’re the man, you fix things. It’s not always appliances, either. If someone is upset, the man is supposed to fix it. If something goes wrong, the man is supposed to resolve it.
If a good relationship is supposed to be a partnership, then this dynamic is hardly equal. One side can’t be solely responsible for resolving every problem, be it a faulty garbage disposal or serious intimacy issues. Being in love and making your partner feel loved goes both ways. Expecting only one side to get their hands dirty and make the sacrifices isn’t going to leave someone feeling appreciated, let alone loved.
Make Your Love Feel Like A Choice Rather Than A Favor
I’ve heard more than one women, and even a few men, tell their partners they’re lucky to have them. It’s not always in a condescending sort of way, but by definition, it kind of is. It sends the message that the love they’re sharing isn’t really a matter of choice. It’s just a favor they’re giving to someone, one that can be revoked at any time.
That kind of a relationship is many things, but it is not very loving. Men jump through a lot of hoops to be with someone. I know women have challenges as well, but in the current gender climate, men are still the ones who do most of the pursuing and women are the ones making the choices. Just look at the gender disparity on dating sites for proof of that.
As a result, a relationship will feel more like a privilege than a genuine, emotional connection. It creates this dynamic where a man feels like he has to navigate a constantly-shifting set of expectations, just to keep the relationship going. The woman is the one who sets those expectations and can determine at any moment that he has failed and the relationship is over.
Again, I’m not claiming that this is how most women approach a relationship. By and large, the love they feel is real. However, a good chunk of that love is contingent on the men treating that love as a favor that is granted rather than something that’s genuine and sincere. As Chris Rock said, it’s a conditional kind of love and that love will limit any relationship in the long run.
I hope this list helps further the discussion surrounding men, love, and relationships. If you feel like I missed something or need to expand on a particular concept, please let me know in the comments. For everyone out there lucky enough to be in relationships, I hope this gives you something to think about and provides tools with which you can use to make one another feel truly loved.
My Wedding Speech: Love, Marriage, And Hope
The following is a little speech I prepared for the wedding I’m set to attend later today. As I announced yesterday, I’m currently out of town to attend a wedding involving a close family member of mine. I’m not the one that’s getting married, but being the romantic I am, I have a strong appreciation for weddings.
There is sure to be plenty of joy to be had on all sides. There will be plenty of speeches, toasts, and tears. I don’t know if I’ll get a chance to say anything, given the size of the crowd. However, I’ve never been good at giving big speeches anyways. My strength has always been the written word.
With that in mind, I’d like to share a little speech that I wrote for this momentous occasion. Even if I don’t get a chance to say it, I hope to forward it to friends, family, and loved ones so they can share in the sentiment during and after the ceremony. Also, if you or someone you know is getting married and need something romantic to say, please feel free to use this.
What can we say about love that hasn’t been demonstrated, expressed, or put into every other pop song in history?
What can we possibly do, by ourselves and with each other, to demonstrate the power of this feeling?
On this joyous day, I think we can skip those questions because what we’re experiencing right now is the most complete answer we’re ever going to get. Here, in this moment, we are feeling those magical, intangible things that unite us all, but defy description.
Take a moment, every one of you, to appreciate this feeling. To the bride and groom, take an extra moment or several. Can you sense it? Can you grasp it, if only in though? It doesn’t have to be tangible. It doesn’t even have to be complete. All that matters is that it’s there.
Take another moment, if you can, to understand how powerful a feeling it takes to bring us together. What other emotion can inspire an event like this? Friends, family, and loved ones from all over are here to share in this experience. Some say love is magical. I say magic has nothing on love’s ability to bring us all together.
To the bride and groom, whose love brought us here, you’ve achieved something that few can hope to grasp. What brought you to this point wasn’t just a passing feeling. A simple passion may inspire a kiss or a smile, but it takes something much greater to create something like this.
Your love is something special. It’s not just one particular feeling at one particular moment in time. It is a process and an evolution. Like gravity or the changing of the seasons, love has been the catalyst through which you’ve weaved your lives together. The hopes of the past are now the promises of the future. The joy you feel now is the foundation for greater joy in the future.
When we truly love someone, we don’t just love the person before us. Their body, their smile, and the things they do for us are merely the surface of something much deeper.
To love someone is to love who they’re trying to be.
To love someone is to love who you’re trying to be, as well.
To feel that love and know it is a moment worth capturing. For you to share that moment with us, giving us a chance to see and marvel at what you’ve achieved together, is a true wonder.
Having witnessed your love and celebrated your new life together, I think we can all say without reservation that love is real. We need ask no more questions. We need not contemplate any more factors. Seeing you together and sharing in the moment is all we need to know the truth.
From this day forward, through every challenge and triumph, we wish you all the love and happiness that this feeling can bring. From here on out, let love be your guide, your bond, and your greatest strength.
Filed under Jack Fisher's Insights, Marriage and Relationships, romance