Or quasi-looking. I never looked for love the way my “sisters” did. Mostly I was looking for friends, and sex was the price of a really epic relationship. I did, vaguely, want to get married some day, but that was so precious it was unattainable. I did not think I was mature enough to do it. This idea was not healed until I got married– or indeed took marriage seriously in my own mind. You take marriage seriously when you finally realize you will either do that or die alone. At a certain point it becomes clear that you are better off with someone– even if they annoy you. And sometimes, being annoyed is good for you.
And this attraction phenomenon was not because I’m beautiful. I’m not. I don’t take the level of care I should with my appearance. I’m not an ogre (or so my husband assures me) but… the makeup and so on was never a real priority. I could fake it when I needed to– I mean I did keep a corporate job for a while. When I finally did leave– they begged me not to go. Which is not the behavior you’d expect if it was that bad.
SO, nothing special in the appearance department. Not really sending out signals that I was “in the mood”… nope, looking for friends, with a long term relationship a serious possibility in the future. And this attracted men like you would not believe. Some would say, “Sure, you mean the rejects, right?” Nope. Some of them really were pretty close to ideal to what other women wanted. In their case, it was their loss that I did not want what other women wanted. I wanted the friend so great that I’d spend the rest of my life with him. And while I did not always make the good choices, there were plenty of good choices to be had.
But here’s the really weird thing. I’m not all that sexual, but I’m a hopeless romantic. So I hate romance novels– at least the conventional kind. Barbara Michaels has managed to capture my attention on occasion, but that’s largely because she hasn’t forgotten that Romance actually originated from drama- and that drama is about human relationships. All of my favorite fiction has not forgotten that relationships between persons drive story. But that story is about people doing things for reasons.
Unfortunately (for the market if nothing else), I don’t find sex compelling enough to drive a story. Granted, sexual themes– I’m no prude– can and do make interesting issues to make stories around– but chances are it’s not really the sex that pulls you in. I’m only a shipper in fanfic because the two people would make an interesting couple. Whatever they do in bed is their own business. Porn is essentially boring, taking something sacred and putting it on sloppy selfish display. Because it’s only meaningful if the two people are in love. When there is sacrifice, when there is a forever involved. Because otherwise, it’s negotiable. If it’s negotiable, it’s not has not become complete.
Otherwise it’s an embarrassing mechanistic mess. I broke up with a man once because we had “sewing machine sex”. I liked him a great deal, but I couldn’t imagine what was there if there was no connection in that private act. He was handsome, sexy and very good guy. He was everything any girl would want, and want badly. But for what ever reason I never bonded physically. I could give you a chemical reason, I’m sure, but that’s not the point. The point was that the sex and the relationship were disconnected entirely. And in that context I could never make a home.
Thanks to being bothered by my divergent attitudes about sex and romance, for many years I felt so estranged from the human race that felt that I was not fit to be a writer. What could I tell people who were so different from me? Was I too different even to communicate about the thing that bonds us all as one? That is, love and friendship, which are requirements to all close and interesting relationships? Because if it involves a desire for sex, that’s passion or arousal. You can love anyone. Passion is focused to specifics. I strenuously object the sick culture that confuses sex and love.
Here’s another weird thing. The only people I could tell this sort of thing to, tended to be male. I wasn’t sufficiently sexualized to be fit for the company of most women. They wanted me to dish about my relationships with men. The things I thought were both riveting and fit for public display were boring to most women, and the things that were physical– as far as I was concerned– were private, or, beyond that, disgusting by their standards. Because when I love someone, it is mostly in the mind. When sex is involved, that is when the mind and body meet. That’s why you close your eyes for the good part. It does not matter if you want to spend the rest of your life looking at your beloved. Because you have to have your eyes closed to see clearly that wondrous bond you have in spirit. And we haven’t even gotten to the whole “what sex is for” part.
So sex isn’t even about sex, let alone romance. If it were, we’d be having more babies. Seriously. I’m still confused as to why women don’t realize that having babies might be fulfilling. “Feminism” argues that somehow, one’s very biology is a kind of imprisonment. Why is that? Are we back to, “hell is other people”? Again? How can you truly love a man if you will not love his child?
So what is Romance about if not about sex? I guess the more important question is, what is Love really? I think the best Romance are the stories that answer that question.