A clever, calculating suitor once introduced me to a stranger with the words “Rebekah is the closest thing to living beauty that I have ever met.”
This stranger was another woman, and her response clearly signaled “thanks a heap, jerkface.”
In a movie, the suitor’s words would signify that our love was written in the stars. As the sweet, tender words escaped his equally sweet, tender lips, our eyes would meet. Our surroundings (starting with that mildly offended woman) would fade away. We would kiss, first hesitantly, then with mounting passion as the orchestral love theme deafened everyone in a 90-mile radius.
In reality, this particular dude was merely a smooth talker— and the verbal skills he used to woo me would later be carefully, consciously used to destroy my self-esteem.
What Makes an Exciting Story and What Makes for a Lasting Relationship are often markedly different things. Yes, pretty stories sometimes evolve into meaningful partnerships, and most long-term relationships are not devoid of prettiness. Still.
As a young simpleton who had been exposed to an awful lot of mushy cultural scripts, I felt that romantic encounters Meant Something and were Leading Somewhere. If a man seemed crazy about me, wasn’t I obligated to reciprocate somehow? Didn’t I owe him something for all those extravagant compliments?
As an older simpleton, I now understand that sometimes words are only words, and that sweeping a girl off her feet is easier than standing by her.