The Gamble of Romance

Romance is a roll of the dice. It’s powerful, but it’s risky. As author Amy Bloom describes it, “We revel in compatibility, secrets, joyful recognition, unexpected understanding, and a communication which rivals and sometimes surpasses that within our family.” And that is the adventure and the reward of it. Some people approach love with cheery realism; others approach it with fear and reluctance. The reason? Because — again, in Bloom’s words — “It’s one damned risk after another.”

Because whenever we love, that means loss hovers around the corner or under the bed. The prospect of loss changes things, colors things. Some of us respond by rejecting before we can be rejected, by seizing on any and every excuse to end it before it really starts. He’s too young, too heavy, too thin, too bald, too selfish, not prosperous enough, not educated enough, not funny enough, not kind enough . . . Whether it’s a relationship of fire or of friendship, we know that sometimes in love it hurts and it ends — Either by death, divorce, or simply our own or our partner’s limitations. It’s totally unfair and it’s totally human.

You can recognize this and you can be scared but you can also decide to try your luck. Know that you will be disappointed. And also know that you will do the disappointing. (The ones who don’t recognize that fact are, curiously, the ones who find the most disappointment!) Love may go astray. It may not be returned. It may break before old age. But if you try to duck out on romance if you don’t step up to the table and take the gamble, you lose.

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