A friend recently referred to dating as having a love interest, and it made me realize how clean that phrase is.
No pretenses, no ambiguous meaning or indirect association with which to confuse it.
It is clean cut. It captures romance, not to trivialize it, but quite the opposite — to make it more explicit.
“I am seeking a love interest” is an honest intent, and whoever uses it, allows himself or herself to enter into a new relationship with precision and audacity.
And how refreshing that is.
We all want to be a little less lonely, but dating has become diluted, casual, and in a way, aimless. We now go out, hang out, meet up for drinks. Facebook and twitter have softened these romantic interactions all the more — adding someone as a friend or frequently commenting on updates can now be used (or misconstrued) as a show of interest. We like safe terms, non-committal gestures that let us passively build up to a maybe, that we may or may not act on. I find most cowardly the use of “friendship” to test the water for what was once a direct, well-intended social process: courtship. That was an engaging romantic activity that had a definite goal: to get an answer, from both parties, whether it be a yes or a no.
We don’t like being definite these days. Maybe that’s why it’s also become so difficult to commit to the answer (the yes or the no). We like gray areas, and usually get into things with one foot out of the door. Most of us are muddled even while we seek; we have a lot of peripherals. I once dated a guy who made his intentions clear from day one (that it was a clear yes for him), and I cherished that.
A love interest is just that — a romance partner. Someone to romance, to be giddy over, and vice-versa. A crush who crushes you back and says so. It can deepen into love and a true partnership, but that’s another story. And the yes (or no) that we get from courtship or dating is just a decision to pursue (or not) that other story.