When it comes to dating and relationship a fair question is whether Marketing give us a good advice?
A person who knows a thing or two about how marketing works can automatically reply “of course it does not!” This person can proceed by saying how our sense of beauty is distorted by illusion of perfection and how romance is not what is used to be. Still if you are to continue and ask this person what can we do about it changes are he will not know what to say.
Thankfully there is an answer.
Step 1 – Bad romance
For generations people study the arts of love and romanticism and a huge amount of literature has been written, filmed and documented.
Some people have focused their writing on the idea of perfect love, by imagining, looking at their own experiences and asking other people what they though the perfect love is. These opinions were for the most part wrong.
Because most people don’t know themselves what a perfect romance is, they are looking around to see what other people say it should be. Unfortunately, either other people don’t know it either, so what is the next best place to look for an answer? The answer is Media. Medias on its hand focuses on what sells best – perfection.
In accordance with media, which is mostly visual, a perfect love and romance should be between rich, materialistic and good looking people. The earliest sort such media promotion was stories mothers used to tell their children about knights on a white horses saving princes from their castles.
The problem with this media imposed image is that majority of people are not rich, nor are they model like looking. They do however tend to be materialistic, just in case.
Another group of people who have studies romance have focused on what really works. Good looks and money does not come into this picture, because left something that it could not show very well visually – emotions. Rather than to try to buy happiness, this second group of people went into a world trying other things. They have done research and tested their assumptions. Some of them went further than trying things with only one partner and went down in history in names such as Casa Nova or Don Juan. Some of them have documented their findings. Here are some things they found:
Step 2 –Little death
While Charles Darvin was not a student of romance per se, his theory of Natural Selection explains that in a way all of out social behavior is aimed at ultimate goal of sexual reproduction.
This is of course a big statement, referring to an idea that all our lives, everything that we do, think, wear, buy, eat and so forth is targeted at ultimate purpose of finding a good mate, having babies and making sure that next generations will survive as well.
This theory assumes that we are biological machines programed and guided by chemical, rather than rational reasons. It assumes that we can live in a society created to increase our changes of reproduction and to give some better chances of finding a better mate than to others. Every other aspect of our lives is just an illusion, a means to an end.
Everyone is lost in this illusion in a similar way. Even people with most power, means and opportunity are often lost in this illusion created by society.
Some critics to this theory argue that we have a higher reasons to exist, such as to make a contribution in a world, or to try to be happy, this is, to enjoy ourselves as much as possible while we are here.
Still, in a way, all these alternative ways of thinking can be seen as strategies that promote social illusion, already mentioned means to an end, not as ultimate reason to existence. Lets look further:
Step 3 – Buying Love
“You romantic happiness is around the corner! Just BUY *this* and all your problems will be fixed!”
Majority of people live within their means. They have all of their basic needs satisfied and they don’t need to be worried where the next meal will come from, where they are going to sleep tomorrow night, or if they get sick whether there will be someone to take care of them. So why do people want more?
We have everything we need to be happy, but we are often not happy. The solution to this lack of happiness is to buy something that we are missing, which leads to a logical conclusions that apparently happiness costs money. Take for example “happiness in a bottle” – Coca-Cola, or all the cartoons and games sold to adults. We seem never to have enough of this thing call Happiness.
So today when we relate to other people we are looking at indicators of happiness, that is money, like expensive tastes, which should give us good indicators of value of our partner. We promote and demand the act of spending money and we better have more, better and faster things than other people, as otherwise we should not be happy.
So we proceed to want the best car, the biggest house, the best brands and other expensive things with the ultimate goal of impressing other people, with the hope of attracting a suitable mate.
But somehow it does not work, or does it?
Step 4 – Our preferences
Since the sexual revolution in 80s, people around the world have celebrated a greater equality between men and women. 30 years later, it is still not perfect, but it is much better that it used to be. No longer do women need to rely on men to provide for them and in many cases they have surpassed men, say for example in average level of education.
Still some old traditions remain, like that men need to invite women to restaurants, buy them flowers and other ways of spending money in other ways to impress their mates.
Sexual revolution has brought something else as well. People are now much more open about who they are and how they relate to other people in terms of their preferences like for example gay, lesbian, trans and or any other orientation. And while it is not perfect and heterosexual preference is still the leading and most accepted way people relate to each other, there is much more acceptance towards other peoples desires.
Another way we still live by an old books is that we still follow the Bible and other religious teachings. This is, every year more and more people claim that they either don’t believe in God, or that they have a more flexible view of the concept of higher power. Still, people strongly believe in idea of Marriage. And while we know today over 50% of marriages will end up in divorce, we are still hopeful that this time it will be different.
Moreover, religion has more to say about how society should function than we think. For example, today we believe that every person should have only one partner. Anything more that this will be viewed as incorrect and even punishable, except for these who have money.
Of course I don’t specifically suggest that everyone should stop getting married and to have more that one partner, but I am saying that when it comes to how we communicate what a relationships and love should be, there is a right and a wrong way to do it.
Some people, like I mentioned in the beginning of this article, will follow media advice at a face value, while others will go out there and test assumptions. Still, media has a deeper effect than we realize:
Step 5 – Emotion
We live in a men’s world where more predominately male values like career, achievement and focus on logic have overtaken more predominate women’s values such desire to relationship, raise a family and focus on emotion.
We can see these values reflect in, for example, a higher presence of women in workplaces and in later in life desire to build families.
We also live in women’s world where more predominately female values like compassion, piece and love, have replaced more predominate male value like strength, power and ability to be a hunter or to wrestle a lion.
Essentially we have women who are expected to be more like men and not truly allowed to act like women, and men who are expected to act like women and not truly allowed to act like men. Both genders are suffering under socially imposed norms, which serve us, but to a certain point.
Again, I am not saying that we should have wars and violence on the male side, and women staying at home being housewives on the female side. Marshall Rosenberg, for example, argues in his program Non-Violence Communication that wars and violence are created by how our society is structured and by how we no longer speak the natural languages of compassion and connection.
No, what I am really saying is that men and women are 99,9999% identical on a genetic level, but that the remaining 0,0001% difference is still enormous. Certain things just come better to one gender than another and while we should not repress either, we should reconnect with what makes us unique.
And while society has improved our lives beyond a point of believe, it has done so at expense of certain things that perhaps it would be in our interest to remember. After all, we are still human and what we find attractive in opposite gender is indeed the things that are unique to that gender.