Saturday, March 23, 2013

Would You Date the Ultimate Adventurer? On Free Spirits, Romance and Out of Africa

Picture this: He’s handsome and muscular in a manly way, the rock-hard body gained through outdoorsy activities. He’s ruggedly attractive, but clean cut looks good on him too - should he choose to get one.

He’s dressed in a universally acceptable code- mostly jeans, pastel colors (or he can go bright blue occasionally to bring out the color of his eyes.) He’s taller than you. He’s also charismatic, confident and only cocky to those that deserve it. He is a nice guy at the core, and he is foremost in love with his independence, and more often than not, nature.

They can get very romantic when they like you, and going on dates with them can be exhilarating.  They don’t mind being loyal,either.  Maybe it is a part of their code, or maybe it’s because they hardly have time to romance one woman. Being adventurer is a full-time personality need...

Does that remind you of a couple of movie heroes? Depending on your age and preference, I could be talking about Robert Redford’s Denys in Out of Africa (1985), Vincent Perez’s Paolo in I Dreamed of Africa (2000) or Hugh Jackman’s Drover in Australia (2008)… 

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You know the archetype.  But when the “honeymoon period” is over, and the couple begins to feel like they are falling for each other, things start to change. The fact that the woman wants to spend more time together starts to get to the guy.

Mind you, with more time, we are not talking about being together all the time. But when one side starts spending the relationship as a hotel, coming and going as he pleases, his loyalty, romantic gestures and sexual talents start not mounting up to much.

A relationship doesn’t have to be boring, predictable or stifling. It’s good to give each other some space, have friends that are not common and have some separate activities. But it all goes downhill when one side wants to make all the shots. 

Out of Africa is not the ideal romance, but it serves as a great fantasy- for a bit.
Until the great hunter Denys starts getting itchy when Karen (Meryl Streep) doesn’t want to feel alone anymore. 

You see, I might not be able to identify with a woman who moves to Africa (from Denmark) and runs a large coffee farm there, but I can certainly empathize when she realizes that being alone when you are supposedly with someone is worse than being alone on your own.

No, they don’t have to get married. They don’t have to be official anything. But if it is a big deal-breaker for the guy when the woman wants to feel more like she has a boyfriend, it is a big deal breaker for the woman when the guy wants to do whatever/whenever and not include her needs and wants in his plans. 

I love this dialogue from the movie. It takes place right around the time expectations clash:

Karen: When you go away on safari, are you ever with someone else?
Denys: I’d be with you if I wanted to be with anyone.
Karen: Ever get lonely?
Denys: Sometimes.
Karen: You ever wonder if I’m lonely?
 Denys: No, I don’t.
Karen: You think about me at all?
Denys: Often.
Karen: But not enough to come back.
Denys: I do come back. All the time. What is it?

(I’m skipping the part where Karen talks about marriage and Denys says that a piece of paper won’t make him love her more because I agree with Denys there. And marriage is really the least of their problems. Though that part provides some nice light humor as well.)

Karen: When you go away, you don’t always go on a safari, do you?
Denys: No.
Karen: Just want to be away.
Denys: It’s not meant to hurt you.
Karen: It does.
Denys: Karen I’m with you because I choose to be with you. I don’t want to live somebody else’s idea of how to live. Don’t ask me to do that.

It’s ironic how he insists on being himself, because it is his life- but he doesn’t acknowledge that he is asking her to live his idea of a life, romance, relationship. I could totally relate to Karen hesitating between wanting to be with him and kicking his butt out in the wilderness for once and for all. She does both, by the way.

Sure, it is only a movie. Except this movie was based on a true story. (So was I Dreamed of Africa, on a side note.) 

You know this guy. You’ve met him before, or at least heard about him.
The idea of a ruggedly handsome, outdoorsy, adventurous type might sound alluring. A fling with such a guy might be something worth trying out. But don’t let him make all the rules, especially if you don’t have a very similar personality. 

If you are similar, it just might be a match made in heaven, or hell, depending on if when you want to be alone coincides with his. 

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P.S. The relationships in these movies usually end with one of them finally breaking it up, the guy dying or both. Sometimes both sides realize it is not realistic to expect to get it their way all the time, and a little compromise is worth it if you love someone.