Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day

What happens when you think about romance? Are you a romantic who loves the notion or someone who can't quite imagine themselves in that picture? Think back to the time when you first knew that romance was or was not really for you.

Some of you will have no memory of when or where your attitudes to romance formed. In the eternal present in which we all live, the rules of use it or lose it often apply. If you missed out on romance when you were young and impressionable, you will not have any anchors to stabilize the experience. There will be nothing to use, and so romance itself is lost. It's possible there is even a critical period for romance, some point in human development where we are either captured by the notion of aesthetically pleasing passions or we miss it altogether.

If you are not a romantic, there is no way of explaining its appeal. Freud tried to link the urge for sex with the urge to die - but his ideas are out of fashion. Still, the great romances, from Guinevere and Lancelot to Swan Lake and through a lineage that descends to the tabloid pages we read at the supermarket today-- the great romances end badly. The stories that end well are not romances; they are merely comedies.

There is something about flowers and candlelight and fine food and good wine and dark chocolate. If none of these are anchors to wonderful states for you, you might consider giving them some help. Men, especially, will find that the more they anchor pleasure and relaxation to these icons of romance, the more they have reason to choose and use those anchors. Or, as they say in NLP, to fire those anchors.

If you are anchored in this way and your partner is not, there are answers. One is to consider the pitfalls of romance and to shift your own anchors to more common ground. The other is, in the best romantic tradition, to take up the challenge of anchoring wonderful states to flowers or fine wine or dark chocolate. And to reinforce those anchors frequently - once a year is not nearly enough.

Or you can choose not to be anchored at all - to accept the spirit of romance instead of its trimmings and express it (and be fired) through symbols that are so uniquely yours that no one else would notice them. Except, perhaps, your one true love.

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