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Much Ado About Romance

Much Ado About Romance

It’s the most timeless thing in the history of time: romance. Cupid’s arrows have been flying about since before Christ was born and they are still going strong. They strike down hundreds of thousands of unassuming folks every single day. Then follows the age-old duet of endless phone calls, intimate dates, blooming flowers, and sparkling gifts. If your eyes aren’t glazed over already, here is a little statistic: Valentine’s Day spending in US alone is about $20 Billion. That’s one day in one country, folks (if you are reading this post and didn’t get a gift on Valentine’s Day, now is the time to breathe, just breathe — killing him is not the solution!).

We are obsessed, aren’t we? Shakespeare wrote some 40 plays and 150 sonnets and all we can really remember about the poor guy is “Romeo and Juliet” — suicide in love. Just doesn’t get more romantic than that. Every culture has its own versions of romance that are full of grand gestures — wars fought and monuments built and every little detail documented in ballads and books. Today, it translates into the customary chocolates and jewelry (to all the men complaining about that, had it been the 17th century, you would have to commit suicide to prove your love).

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Interrupting the trance of romance

For one moment though, I’ll request that Cupid take a (well-deserved) rest while I ask a little question: what does romance stand for?

We spend years waiting for that one prolonged look, for that perfect candlelit dinner, for that obscenely huge bouquet and that dazzling faultless solitaire. What does it mean? The longer the look, the truer the love?

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We spend months planning the most romantic wedding. That wedding dress should make Vera Wang tear up and that first dance should make William and Kate look clumsy like Mr. and Mrs. Shrek. What does it mean? The more romantic the wedding, the longer the marriage?

For all these years, have we been using romance as the proxy for love? More importantly, is it?

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If he loves to hold your hand, is he a keeper? What if the guy takes care of you in a dependable sort of way but suffers from sweaty palms? Would you rather have a big bouquet of roses or would you rather he gets laundry done while you are having a difficult day at work (I know you want to say both, but then even your guy wants a cross between Angelina Jolie and Martha Stewart — all the best with that!)?

Romance is just that — romance

It’s exciting and it’s fun but it is not Love. In fact, a lot of times, there is no correlation between the two. You could have a lot of romance — a lot of flowers, a lot of dates, a lot of chocolates — and the very next day a little fight can end in a breakup because your partner can give you flowers but they cannot give up their ego. All the same, if they never ever get you those flowers but keep calm while you are having a “nobody mess with me” day, what you miss are some roses, but what you get is understanding — that’s a pretty good deal.

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There can be love without romance and it can last you a lifetime, but the other way around doesn’t work. It cannot last. Sure, things can get boring, but all that’s needed is for you to drag your partner out of bed and throw a tantrum about wanting to go eat at that new place. The best part is that when you do go eat at that new place, you don’t get judged for spilling food all over your clothes despite the napkin around your neck. The romantic fellow with the jewelry is going to sit there getting embarrassed; that boring dependable guy will help you clean up (after adequate laughter of course — no one is an angel here).

I guess it’s time we let cute little Cupid grow up a bit. For those of us who have seen our parents together for 30 years, we know it’s not about romance. In fact, if your dad got your mum flowers, she would probably rush him to the doctor. Not to mention your dad cannot distinguish a rose from a cactus, so it’s a stretch anyway.

It’s about just hanging around and being there in a consistent (though sometimes reluctant) way. That’s pretty much love served up in all its glory. It’s not about Romeo and Juliet dying for love. It’s about Romeo and Juliet surviving each other for love, all sprinkled with a few moments of joy (when no one has to do laundry).

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Last Updated on August 12, 2019

How To Start a Conversation with Anyone

How To Start a Conversation with Anyone

The hardest part of socializing, for many people, is how to start a conversation. However, it is a big mistake to go about life not making the first move and waiting for someone else to do it [in conversation or anything].

This isn’t to say you must always be the first in everything or initiate a conversation with everyone you see. What should be said, though, is once you get good at starting conversations, a lot of other things will progress in the way you want; such as networking and your love life.

Benefits of Initiating a Conversation

First thing is you should acknowledge why it is a good thing to be able to initiate conversations with strangers or people who you don’t know well:

  • You’re not a loner with nothing to do.
  • You look more approachable if you are comfortable approaching others.
  • Meeting new people means developing a network of friends or peers which leads to more knowledge and experiences.

You can only learn so much alone, and I’m sure you’re aware of the benefits of learning from others. Being able to distinguish the ‘good from bad’ amongst a group of people will help in building a suitable network, or making a fun night.

All people are good in their own way. Being able to have a good time with anybody is a worthy trait and something to discuss another time. However, if you have a specific purpose while in social situations, you may want to stick with people who are suitable.

This means distinguishing between people who might suit you and your ‘purpose’ from those who probably won’t. This can require some people-judging, which I am generally very opposed to. However, this does make approaching people all the more easier.

It helps to motivate the conversation if you really want to know this person. Also, you’ll find your circle of friends and peers grows to something you really like and enjoy.

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The Rules

I don’t have many rules in this life, for conversation or anything; but when it comes to approaching strangers, there are a few I’d like used.

  1. Be polite. Within context, don’t be a creepy, arrogant loudmouth or anything. Acknowledge that you are in the company of strangers and don’t make anyone feel uncomfortable. First impressions mean something.
  2. Keep it light. Don’t launch into a heartfelt rant or a story of tragedy. We’re out to have fun.
  3. Don’t be a prude. This just means relax. This isn’t a science and conversation isn’t a fine art. Talk to people like you’re already friends.
  4. Be honest. Be yourself. People can tell.

Who To Talk To?

I’m of the ilk that likes to talk to everyone and anyone. Everyone has a story and good personalities. Some are harder to get to than others, but if you’re on a people-finding excursion, like I usually am, then everyone is pretty much fair game.

That said, if you’re out at a function and you want to build a network of people in your niche, you will want to distinguish those people from the others. Find the ‘leaders’ in a group of people or ask around for what you’re looking for.

In a more general environment, like at a bar, you will want to do the same sort of thing. Acknowledge what you actually want and try to distinguish suitable people. Once you find someone, or a group of people, that you want to meet and talk to, hop to it.

Think of a few things you might have in common. What did you notice about their dress sense?

Building Confidence

The most important part of initiating conversation is, arguably, having confidence. It should be obvious that without any amount of self-esteem you will struggle. Having confidence in yourself and who you are makes this job very easy.

If you find yourself doubting your worth, or how interesting you are, make a few mental notes of why you are interesting and worth talking to. There is no question you are. You just have to realize that.

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What do I do? What is interesting about it? What are my strong points and what are my weak ones? Confident people succeed because they play on their strengths.

Across the Room Rapport

This is rapport building without talking. It’s as simple as reciprocated eye contact and smiles etc. Acknowledging someone else’s presence before approaching them goes a long way to making introductions easier. You are instantly no longer just a random person.

In my other article How Not To Suck At Socializing, there are things you can do to make yourself appear approachable. This doesn’t necessarily mean people are going to flock to you. You’ll still probably need to initiate conversations.

People notice other people who are having a blast. If you’re that person, someone will acknowledge it and will make the ‘across the room rapport’ building a breeze. If you’re that person that is getting along great with their present company, others will want to talk to you. This will make your approach more comfortable for both parties.

The Approach

When it comes to being social, the less analytical and formulaic you are the better. Try not to map out your every move and plan too much. Although we are talking about how to initiate conversation, these are really only tips. When it comes to the approach, though, there are some things you should keep in mind.

Different situations call for different approaches. Formal situations call for something more formal and relaxed ones should be relaxed.

At a work function, for instance, be a little formal and introduce yourself. People will want to know who you are and what you do right away. This isn’t to say you should only talk about work, but an introduction and handshake is appropriate.

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If you’re at a bar, then things are very different and you should be much more open to unstructured introductions. Personally, I don’t like the idea of walking directly to someone to talk to them. It’s too direct. I like the sense of randomness that comes with meeting new people.

However, if there is rapport already established, go for it. If not, take a wander, buy a drink and be aware of where people are. If there is someone you would like to talk to, make yourself available and not sit all night etc.

When someone is alone and looks bored, do them a favor and approach them. No matter how bad the conversation might get, they should at least appreciate the company and friendliness.

Briefly, Approaching Groups

When integrating with an established group conversation, there is really one thing to know. That is to establish the ‘leader’ and introduce yourself to them. I mentioned that before, but here is how and why.

The why is the leader of a group conversation is probably the more social and outgoing. They will more readily accept your introduction and then introduce you to the rest of the group. This hierarchy in a group conversation is much more prevalent in formal situations where one person is leading the conversation.

A group of friends out for the night is much more difficult to crack. This may even be another topic for discussion, but one thing I know that works is initiating conversation with a ‘stray’. It sounds predatorial, but it works.

More often than not, this occurs without intention. But if you do really want to get into a group of friends, your best bet is approaching one of them while they are away from the group and being invited into the group.

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It is possible, like everything, to approach a group outright and join them. However, this is almost an art and requires another specific post.

Topics Of Conversation

Other than confidence, the next thing people who have trouble initiating conversations lack is conversation! So here are a few tips to get the ball rolling:

  • Small talk sucks. It’s boring and a lot of people already begin to zone out when questions like, “What do you do?” or “What’s with this weather?” come up. Just skip it.
  • Everything is fair game. If you are in the company of someone and a thought strikes you, share it. “This drink is garbage! What are you drinking?” “Where did you get that outfit?”
  • Opinions matter. This is any easy way to hit the ground running in conversation. Everyone has one, and when you share yours, another will reveal itself. The great thing about this line of thought is that you are instantly learning about the other person and what they like, dislike etc.
  • Environment. The place you’re in is full of things to comment on. The DJ, band, fashions; start talking about what you see.
  • Current events. Unless it’s something accessible or light-hearted, forget it. Don’t launch into your opinion on the war or politics. If your town has recently hosted a festival, ask what they think about it.

Exiting Conversation

Although I’d like to write a full post on exiting strategies for conversations you don’t want to be in, here are some tips:

  • The first thing is don’t stay in a conversation you’re not interested in. It’ll show and will be no fun for anyone.
  • Be polite and excuse yourself. You’re probably out with friends, go back to them.  Or buy a drink. Most people will probably want to finish the conversation as much as you.

Likewise, you could start another conversation.

If you’d like to learn more tips about starting a conversation, this guide maybe useful for you: How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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