Siren sexting sailors--can you feel the romance? (Photo by Mike Licht, via CC)

Now, while I certainly love me some Modern Love, I’ve got to admit that this week’s edition was pretty thin on story or insight. It read more like an op-ed about how technology has destroyed romance or at the very least, has diminished our ability tell a good yarn about love.

“Although the romantic rituals of my generation (late-night texting, loaded e-mails, Facebook stalking) may expedite courtship, they make for exceedingly dull love stories,”  Charlotte Alter, a senior at Harvard University writes in “Romance’s New Format.” Yes, Ms. Alter, they do indeed.

(It wasn’t until I finished reading how young the writer is and perhaps therein lies the problem with the whole piece–her youth. Nostalgia does not become 22-year-old narrators, especially if they can’t be bothered to dilute their earnestness with humor.)

Despite the lack of story–basically, she meets a West Point cadet and fancies herself to have a romance with him though she knows she doesn’t– there are some interesting observations though they don’t come courtesy of the writer. They come from her mother and grandmother, each of whom has had many boyfriends over the years.

“Sometimes 1 percent of a person can be more important than the other 99 percent,” she told her daughter, referring to the reason she has broken up with many a lover before meeting and marrying the writer’s father. “Did I want to hear ‘reahlly’ every day for the rest of my life?” she asked.

Like the Occupy Wall Street activists that assert that a sliver–one percent–of the population possesses far too much power and influence, Alter’s mother claims that little thing that sticks in your craw–a mispronounced word, a tattoo, grandpa jeans paired with gym shoes–can be the death knell to a relationship, no matter positive the other 99 percent is. The 1 percent in love, as in the economy, has a disproportionate amount of power.

I don’t think I’ve been as nitpicky as Alter’s mother when it came to dumping men–to my knowledge, I’ve never dumped anyone because of a verbal tic– I am as guilty as anyone for judging men on the basis of parts, not the whole. Perhaps my biggest deal breaker is education or the lack thereof as I perceive it. Also, I overvalue rhetorical swiftness. I know that being able to engage in witty repartee is not demonstrative of intelligence and definitely does not indicate the existence of those relationship traits that matter much more–kindness, generosity–yet deprived of it, I tend to quickly lose interest.

Is it wrong that we tend to reject on the basis of a small part? Or is it merely human nature? And finally, what’s your dating 1 percent?


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