Unfortunately, the teeming array of dateable humanity available online offers the promise that Mr.Right may be lingering right on the next page view."If anything looks too good to be true," my French friend Marie-Louise once said, "it probably is." They also believe that personal love is a matter of private business, which goes a long way toward explaining the shock Marie-Louise expressed when she stumbled on the wedding announcements in the style section of for the first time."The only time you see announcements published like this in France is if royalty married, or if you are in a tiny village where everyone knows everyone else and the butcher's daughter is marrying the mayor's son," she said.The pursuit of happiness is written into our Declaration of Independence, after all, and the pursuit of the Happy Ending (ideally with that soul mate) is written into our culture. Despite divorce rates and all signs of trouble in paradise, we often feverishly invest in the hunt for a mate and, once found, in the business of marriage (the wedding, the blitz, the bling).
While we grow up thinking about love in black and white, they grow up inscrutably grey.As post 50s swell the ranks of the online dating market looking for love, this French flower metaphor takes on new luster that merits reflection.God knows we've lived long enough to question some of our more tenacious love clichés.Still, some of them persist, like the idea that finding enduring happiness is possible with a soul mate or perfect partner, if only we look hard enough and consider the right variables.
This is how the French are groomed to think about love from an early age: not in the absolutes of total love or utter rejection, but in nuances and a range of possibilities.It dawned on me at that moment that while we Americans are groomed to seek happy endings and closure, the French are more comfortable with emotional subtleties and ambiguity.