“Send me someone who’s strong and somewhat sincere”

The great Joni Mitchell

These lines from the Joni Mitchell song ‘Same Situation’ have inhabited my heart’s mind for decades. What a quest it has been to find a man like this, someone at whom I can aim my arrows, my wishes, and my confidence. I have been quite successful in the arena of love/lust but typically travel the not-so-feathery path of partnership alone. I am my first love, I suppose, and so it should be. 

I’m currently in Europe, first Vienna for a conference and now Poland visiting a dear friend. I have strolled through gilded hallways and mirrored galleries, seen Klimt’s masterpiece The Kiss reflected in the raised I-phone screens of the tourists who crowd hungrily around the painting. I despise seeing people gobble up these priceless works of art without stopping to read who painted them, when, and in what context.  Alas, not everyone can be as appreciative as I!

As Friday nears I think of red hearts, chocolates, and steamier concoctions that spark the flames of romance. Valentine’s Day is named after one of several Saints called “Valentine”, from the Latin word valens (“worthy, strong, powerful”). The most famous Valentine was martyred on February 14th269 AD for his insistence upon performing Christian marriages when Paganism dominated many parts of the Roman empire. He risked his life so that others can enter into their own version of divine love = that’s hot. 

Humans have devoted endless reams of papyrus, strings of rubies, and edible emojis to our discussions of intimacy, sex, and the invisible powers that direct us as we weave our way through the tangled gardens of earthly delights. Many of us research these wondrous, complex things and I recently wrote a story about one such project that I completed at Western University.

The study explores sexual cultures among undergraduate students and this piece highlights how my participants navigate the wold of intimacy and relationships, which are becoming increasingly diversified. Why are there so many new relationship categories—like “tings”, “FWB”, “consensual non-monogamy”, “polyamory”, “ambi”? My students contend that this diversity helps to protect themselves from the pain, via infidelity and being hurt emotionally, they view as inevitable in ‘traditional’ relationships. 

When analysing their rather fractured, but fascinating dating terrains, I sometimes felt sad. How can they develop special feelings of intimacy and trust if they are too scared to be with one person for a significant amount of time? But then, I began to wonder if these ideas of romantic love and ‘happiness’ are simply constructions, outdated models in need of innovation in our digital times.  What can we learn about contemporary adaptive strategies to love/lust/longing from these young people?

Future blogs will unpack some of these questions, alongside my ever-deeper sojourn into the Bumble hive, where many sticky, sexy, and sometimes sad treasures await! Kisses and happy love on Friday, and as always xoox!