Recent feedback from a contest judge has made me ponder the mysteries of attraction. The judge noted that my hero and heroine, while physically attracted, have no compelling reason to live happily ever after.
Setting aside the usual disclaimers (but it’s not a romance, it’s women’s fiction with romantic elements!) and defenses (sure they do! You only read about their first meeting!) I started thinking about what makes for a lasting relationship.
I only have one long date from which to draw conclusions. It began with physical approval—nearly six feet and a muscular build meets my need to feel not-like-a-hulk; thick dark hair is a personal preference.
But was there an inciting incident? Uh, sorry, not that I can recall. In my defense, it’s been a really long date, approaching twenty-nine years. So how did we make the transition from interest to commitment? We have friends in common, but they didn’t universally approve the match. We’re both ambitious—we talked about our intent to improve our lives. And we have similar values—we expect to work hard, as opposed to holding up convenience stores or bilking the elderly.
At the end of the third date, I announced my resolution never again to date anyone for longer than six months without a proposal. I figured if he spazzed under the threat of commitment, he’d disappear without a trace and I could move on before developing any emotional attachment. But he didn’t. At six months, he asked for a three month extension. I granted it.
The trait that I recognized as vitally important to my future was his optimism. While I can spot a mote of woe from twenty paces, he’s certain that I’m imagining things. Over time, my viewpoint has moved toward balance. And that’s a good thing.
What do you think? Are the real life basics that worked for me enough to carry a novel?
*circa the college years, referring to the institution of marriage