Anyone who has read much in the romance genre will notice a curious phenomenon. In most romance novels, the lead characters meet and fall in love in a very compressed time frame. They agree to get married and ride off into a dazzling sunset.
Studies show that between one and two years of courtship before getting engaged is “the sweet spot” for a lasting marriage. An engagement after less than a year of dating often occurs when the relationship is fueled by a rush of infatuation, or when the couple is still on artificially good behavior and have not relaxed into their authentic self. A courtship longer than two years may reveal that one party is reluctant. So what accounts for the prevalence of very short courtships in romance novels?
To be honest, a long courtship makes for dull reading. As a writer, I wonder if I am setting a bad example for people who become dazzled by the whirlwind they see celebrated in movies and novels. Falling in love after a few dates and hoping it will be the basis for a lasting marriage just can’t happen. Right?
There are exceptions to every rule. My parents just celebrated their 57th anniversary. They had a grand total of eight dates before becoming engaged.
Were they nuts? Infatuated? Completely insane?
Well, a little bit of all that, I suppose. To be fair, immediately after those eight dates and before becoming engaged, my Dad was shipped off to Korea where he served for almost two years. During those years they exchanged hundreds of letters. This allowed for a cooling off period and a certain amount of time for deeper understanding. By the time my Dad was back in the states, he was ready to pop the question.
My parents were the exception to the rule. Even though the basis of their courtship was built upon those eight dates, they knew each other almost two years before getting to the alter.
Two years….. hmmmm… still a little on the dull side for a romance novel.