Brad and Angelina. Tom and Gisele. Beauty and the Beast. It’s easy to become obsessed with finding the perfect someone, especially when images of couples who are “happily” together bombard us from every public medium. During my college career, I’ve been to four different schools. I bounced between three schools before coming to Keene, and the people all had one thing in common: a raging desire for romantic relationships contrasted by little desire to prepare for them.

Romantic relationships are one of the greatest things in the world. If you are in one, you have someone who you can (hopefully) depend on, who loves you and whom you trust. It’s like a security blanket for your soul. But so much can run awry if these relationships are not handled with wisdom. Heartbreak, trust issues, gossip and wasted time and money are some of the possible negative outcomes. So what is the wisdom that must be considered? One must consider the end game.

Usually, the end of all romantic relationships is heartbreak, marriage or the rare “mutual break up.” I will not discuss the ins and outs of heartbreak or the mutual break up, which is a rare sparing of pain. So let’s talk about marriage. Most of us hope to be married one day. But, contrary to Disney’s claim, marriage doesn’t “just happen.”

Where Disney cues the “happily ever after” is often where the work begins. The couple has had their thrill in meeting, getting to know each other and dispatching a mutual enemy or hardship together. Then they sail or walk into the sunset on their honeymoon and the credits roll. But what about when the chemistry settles (it does) and Aladdin now has to accustom himself to royalty and politics after being homeless all his life? What about when Anna’s royal poise begins to cause friction with Kristoff’s earthy golem family? It may sound like I’m ruining the magic, but really I’m trading in the lesser magic of whimsy for the greater magic of preparedness.

Photo illustration by Tim Smith

Photo illustration by Tim Smith

Preparedness is the key to romance. Imagine that you’ve been seeing a special someone for some time. You’ve taken them out and know them pretty decently by now. They say to you one day, “Let’s just spend some time together.” You’re down, they’re down and you’re off. In reality, you’ve planned the whole time already. How? Because you’ve taken time out of your frenetic schedule to relax, drive around and check out your town/county/region for cool things to do with a potential someone. You can look for parks, theatres, sports games and show venues. Then, when you get back home, keep a running tally of events that are in town. You can do it while you check your newsfeed. This is called planning ahead.

The most intense expression of planning ahead is being intentionally single. Get a friend to keep you accountable and then commit to a period of intentional singleness. You can use this time to prepare for someone who you’re really into. You can save money for dates and explore the region. If you’re really bold, commit to a longer time to invest in your career, savings account and character. These long-term investments will form the bedrock of solid relationships that are rewarding, affirming, and life-giving. But it does mean giving up the one-night stands.

Lukas Irizarry can be contacted at lirizarry@kscequinox.

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