“Romance” is one of the most popular search words on Google. And not without reason: finding the right person, accepting them as they are, and living a life full of passion and adventure is what fiction and film are mostly about.
But real life can feel rather different. Finding that “perfect person” can be difficult. And when you do, you may not be ready for committed bliss just yet.
Here, we’ll explore the nuances of courtship and partnership, as experienced by Dante Colle and Charlie Pattinson.
The Search For Mr. Right
Even if you’ve found the “perfect person,” you’re still not guaranteed to live happily ever after. No matter what film or novel you’ve been enthralled by, relationships are rarely easy. In real life, you have to work at it. And that’s okay.
Often, the search for Mr. Right begins with a series of missteps. After years of dating wrong, you finally realize that you should have held out for someone more suitable. Perhaps they existed and you were just too blind to see them.
For Dante and Charlie, their first date involved drinks at a bar, followed by dinner and a movie. As Charlie put it, “We found a nice Italian restaurant, though what happened after that is a total blur.” They made plans to meet the following Thursday and, a week later, on the night of the date, Dante showed up to pick her up. Unfortunately, their first date ended with a fight. Despite this, Dante invited her out for coffee the next day. They talked about what happened, and Dante admitted that he had not been able to keep his hands off of her. Two weeks later, they went out for dinner. After a few months, they moved in together, and a year later, they were married. So, while they may not have found the perfect match in each other initially, they worked hard to make it work.
A Complicated Proposal
Sometimes, the search for Mr. Right takes a little while. Sometimes, it takes years. Sometimes, it involves a series of proposals, each one more elaborate and extravagant than the last. One of the most iconic scenes in cinema history is that of Peter O’Toole proposing to Audrey Hepburn in the film Peter Pan. After years of playing musical chairs with his friends, Peter has finally found the woman with whom he wants to spend the rest of his life. And what an incredible moment it is as he walks up the aisle to propose.
For many of us, the idea of marriage at first sight is still a bit of a fantasy. For Dante and Charlie, their story had a slightly different arc. After a whirlwind romance, they decided to take their time before committing to each other. In the summer of 2014, they took a trip to Italy together. While there, they visited Siena, the city where Dante was born and raised. It was on this trip that he proposed.
According to Charlie, they had just started walking along the wall that runs around the perimeter of the city, when Dante turned to her and said, “Will you marry me?” The proposal took place at midnight, under the full moon and the stars. Surrounded by family and friends, he slipped a ring on her finger and told her that they would face their future together. The next day, they were wed in a small, intimate ceremony. After the wedding, they had a celebratory lunch with friends and relatives, and then went on their honeymoon.
Not Your Traditional Wedding
Although they waited a while to get married, Dante and Charlie’s wedding was anything but traditional. For one, they had a church service at night and invited all of their friends and family to share in the celebration. For another, the wedding cake was an entire pizza baked by Charlie’s uncle. For yet another, they had a sit-down meal following the ceremony. According to the bride, “we didn’t want to ‘wedding cake’ the day because it felt like too much stress.”
Marriage is a life-changing commitment. It requires a lot of work and, as Charlie puts it, “a lot of patience.” It also means committing to loving and respecting your partner regardless of whatever comes their way. This may mean sacrificing your own ambitions for theirs, and vice versa. Relationships are intricate and difficult. But they are also wonderful.
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Whether you’ve found the Mr. Right or you’re still looking, knowing how to date is important. After all, you’ll be spending a lot of time with this person. And it’s only fair that you learn how to do it right.
According to Bella, it’s not always easy determining the differences between friends and acquaintances. In her experience, “you can feel really uncomfortable when you don’t know where you stand with someone.” In the right situation, with the right person, it can be a beautiful thing. But, as with any new relationship, you have to be patient and not rush things.
As you get deeper into a committed and/or long-term partnership, you may find that certain aspects of your individual identities begin to merge. One of the most important of these is your relationship with your partner. Simply put, you’re no longer alone in this world: you have a companion by your side, someone you share your dreams and goals with. This is a relationship which grows, as Dante and Charlie’s did, with time and trust.
According to the psychoanalyst Donald Klein, a relationship is considered “autonomous” when “each partner develops an identity independent of the other, yet each remains oriented toward the other in important ways.” In other words, you can be independent and still rely on your partner for some things. In this state of affairs, your relationship is healthy and growing, and you feel comfortable being openly affectionate with one another. Your relationship with your partner becomes more like a friendship with benefits. You still need each other, but in a way that is mutually beneficial.
Another important characteristic of a healthy partnership is conflict resolution. As Dante and Charlie’s story shows, when you have differences of opinion, it’s important to be able to talk them out. Without a healthy conflict resolution strategy, your relationship can become strained. As you get more experienced at negotiating, you may notice that some conflicts are more amicable than others. Sometimes, a simple “I’m sorry, I was wrong” can leave both parties feeling better about the interaction. But, in other instances, a frank and open discussion can lead to a more mature understanding of the issues at hand. Ultimately, though, only you can decide what works best for your situation.
A Happy Ending
After a long search, it is not easy to find a perfect person. Even when you do, you may not be ready for a life-changing commitment. But that’s what makes it so worth it. As Bella put it, “I wouldn’t trade my journey for anything. I feel like it made me a better person.”
For those seeking a meaningful, lasting relationship, there are options out there. Whether you’ve found the one or are still looking, it’s important to remember that you deserve to be happy. You may not be able to control whether or not you find the “right person,” but you can control how you deal with the situation once you’ve found them. Keep your expectations realistic, and work hard to make the most of what you’ve got. You may surprise yourself how much you can accomplish when you set your mind to it.