How many days do you leave it before you call?
How long should you leave between relationships?
Can love survive over long distances?
How many dates before your first kiss? How many more before you sleep with someone new?
How big an age gap is too big?
How many sexual partners should you aspire to as a man? How many is it acceptable to admit to as a woman?
As spontaneous and romantic as we may want our love lives to be, it sometimes feels like a complicated process, governed by rules and regulations. The trickiest bit being of course that there is no rule book.
Becoming single again a month before I turned thirty, having been out of the game for nearly nine years, was hugely liberating and I don’t regret it for a minute. Two years on though, the novelty is wearing off and I’m ready to think about possibly letting someone in. Just a little bit. Maybe. But it’s scary. It’s an intricate dance, and I keep tripping over my own feet.
Maybe it’s just a side-effect of too many aborted wanderings into the world of online dating, but I feel like something’s not right – I want romance, and spontaneity, not ‘I’m looking for a man over 5′ 8″ within a 40 mile radius’.
Am I just being cynical? Maybe these things don’t matter. Maybe when you meet the right person it doesn’t even occur to you to think about how long you should wait before you do x, y and z. Probably they won’t care how many relationships you’ve already had, and maybe you won’t even notice that they are twenty years older than you.
The reality is though that we make judgements about people before we ever get the chance to know whether they might be the one. It’s one of the reasons I found online dating so difficult, the fact that I felt forced to narrow my search based on things that really have nothing to do with how likely you are to fall in love with someone. It’s all numbers – height, age, distance. I didn’t like it. I didn’t like that I was passing judgement on people based on these things, or that they were doing the same to me.
I have lately developed a rather romantic notion of love – an idea of the whole of two people becoming more than the sum of the parts, something that flies in the face the most basic mathematical principles. Is this realistic though? Can real love exist separately from maths, or is it just a number’s game?