ESCAPE FROM BAD ROMANCE (Part 4)
Want to escape from bad romance?
Perhaps I can help. I’m not referring to books! I’m talking about actual romance. We began this discussion in Part 1 (April 29, 2020), Part 2 (June 24, 2020), and Part 3 (July 22, 2020). In these and the next few blog posts, I’m going to share an amazing discovery I made through writing. (I’m Raz Steel—my degree is in Philosophy, I’ve been writing most of my life, and teaching writing for more than ten years.)
Storytelling is a tool. As a professional writer, it’s a tool of habit for me. Applied one way, it entertains an audience. But what if I could show you how storytelling applied another way could break you out of a pattern of failing real-world romance?
You don’t have to be a writer to use this tool. You don’t have to write at all. My process could be just as effective for a non-writer. In Part 1, I suggested that what allowed me to create the perfect story-romance in my recently published romantic comedy PASS THE KRYPTONITE was my understanding of not one character but both romantic characters.
This suggested that the success of real-world romance depends on my understanding of myself and my partner.
Changing your thoughts isn’t enough to change your romantic reality. Understand yourself, change your thoughts, and empathize with your partner who is doing the same thing.
Most romance writers and readers are women. You already know about change your thoughts, change your reality.
Your question is, “How the hell do I empathize with a guy?”
Well, I am a guy—and I’m gonna try and explain it. It seemed so straightforward yet incredibly difficult for me to empathize with a woman. But so rewarding!
My marriage failed. For one of the characters in PTK, romance failed. That character wallowed in self-pity and the pain of having someone reach down their throat, rip out their heart, throw it on the ground, and then stomp on it.
Mirrored my feelings precisely.
My character escaped. Why couldn’t I? How did my character manage it?
By understanding the only way to achieve the intimate relationship they wanted was to open themselves up again to that same kind of vulnerability. A huge risk.
Another PTK character’s engagement failed. They had reached down someone’s throat. Not deliberately trying to hurt anyone. Sometimes, relationships just don’t work out. That character empathized with their ex-partner though.
My characters in PASS THE KRYPTONITE (as well as my other novels) are emotional risk takers! What an incredible revelation.
Why did the characters find these actions necessary? One character, because they realized they needed to be an emotional risk taker, and the other character, because they realized their partner wasn’t an emotional risk taker.
Flipped a switch for me.
I had to suck it up to do the same. Not only did I need to become and remain an emotional risk taker, but now I understood a fundamental aspect of a potential romantic partner.
Guys worthy of your romantic attention want the same thing you want. So, you have to understand—what do you want?
My idea of romance doesn’t need to match your idea of romance. My idea of romance needs to match my partner’s. Understand what romance means to you, accept that you need to be an emotional risk taker, then look for an emotional risk-taking partner whose ideas about romance align with yours.
Just like you can’t achieve that level of intimacy without the risk, neither can he.
And if he’s not willing/able to take that risk, he ain’t your guy.
How did my characters recognize the emotional risk-taker aspect of each other?
They used empathy.
They were mutually challenged by the other—their patience, their willingness to listen, their willingness to share themselves, specifically their thoughts and emotions—and so they had to recognize they were being challenged in this way, and they had to pick up the gauntlet, and present themselves on a level playing field.
That’s what I began doing in the real world when I met a woman with whom I thought there might be mutual attraction.
I’m an emotional risk taker, and that’s what I want in a partner. I didn’t want to just take her word for it that she was an emotional risk taker, nor did I expect her to take my word for it that I was.
Show, don’t tell!
I would watch for her willingness to listen and to share her thoughts and feelings, and her willingness to explore my thoughts and feelings.
We may’ve been told not to think of it this way, but when we meet someone for a first date, that person is auditioning for the greatest role in my life! And likewise, I hope I’m auditioning for the greatest role in their life.
So, while I don’t want to be off-putting or make our conversation sound like an interview, I want to expose layers of myself I don’t normally share day-to-day, and I want my potential partner to acknowledge that and be interested, and I want them to expose layers of themselves in the same way.
I don’t expose everything on a first date, but more than I would if I were meeting a casual acquaintance.
When I ran into someone who wouldn’t share herself, or clearly wasn’t interested in my thoughts, I didn’t waste my time. I moved on.
If you want an emotional risk taker and you’re sitting across the table in a restaurant or in Starbucks from someone who clearly isn’t an emotional risk taker, and yet you persist, what can you expect other than the same results you’ve already had?
(Part 5 of ESCAPE FROM BAD ROMANCE will appear on September 16, 2020)
Find me at:
Follow me at: