Romance in our time


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On a lighthearted note: How to woo women with mangoes and magical realism. This guide was written by my friend Emily Horn (not to be confused with Emily Paddon) and seems quite useful for the contemporary suitor.

On the matter of novels, Marquez and Murakami would definitely not be my top choices (not least because I don’t particularly enjoy either). I would go with something comic but also substantial, or something that seems particularly well married to the person in question. While the suggestions given are unlikely to possess universal validity, they may prove empowering to those seeking to woo those who are similar to Emily – quirky, literary, honest, and not presumptuous.

Comparing the object of your affection to a prairie vole may or may not be a good plan.

[Update: 30 September 2007] Emily’s relationship advice has a new entry: Chicken Soup for the Breaker-Upper Soul. It makes for interesting reading.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Litty September 4, 2007 at 9:31 am

That last link is no good. Not everyone subscribes to The Economist.

. September 4, 2007 at 10:25 am

Here is the poem linked at the end of this post:

Shall I compare thee to a prairie vole?
Thou art more faithful and monogamous.
Rough winds may blast thee, stress may take its toll
And botox leave thy brow impervious;
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines
And oft thy sun-cream UV rays lets through;
And every perfect pout at last declines
Into a wrinkled spouse’s sulking moue.
But our strong love shall not its power lose
While opioids keep us on the straight and narrow
While oxytocin does its magic prove
And vasopressin binds us one to other.
So long as men can keep their hormones potent
They’ll be romantic as that model rodent.

This one came in response, as a letter from David Walters:

Scientists have proven
A fact I find distracting.
When we fall in love
It’s just chemicals reacting.
I console myself however
At their lack of sensitivity,
In the knowledge that their thinking’s
Just electrical activity.

. September 4, 2007 at 10:26 am

Ack. That formatting came out very badly. Perhaps a blog admin can fix it?

Milan September 4, 2007 at 11:29 am


Emily September 4, 2007 at 1:18 pm

Emilys are best consumed separately. :)

Milan September 4, 2007 at 1:26 pm

I don’t know which Emily this is.

Emily H. = friend of Tristan’s, from Whiterock, who I met at Cabin Fever 3
Emily P. = Oxford doctoral student who was in the same batch of M.Phil students as I was

Emily Horn September 4, 2007 at 8:26 pm

‘Twas I.

Neal September 4, 2007 at 10:29 pm


R.K. November 15, 2007 at 2:42 pm

This guide was written by my friend Emily H. (not to be consumed with Emily P.)

You probably mean ‘not to be confused with.’ Though I could be wrong.

Anon February 6, 2008 at 3:43 pm

But the respectable public behaviour of North American prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster ) may hide a bed-hopping double life. Paternity tests published last week indicate that the animals touted as paragons of monogamy frequently cheat on their partners (A. G. Ophir et al. Anim. Behav. doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2007.09.022; 2008). “Ironically”, the study’s authors conclude, “the dissociation of social and sexual fidelity leads us to suggest that prairie voles are even better models of human attachment than has been appreciated.”

Studies on prairie voles have led scientists to look at the role of hormones such as vasopressin and oxytocin in strengthening human relationships. Revelations of infidelity in the creatures will not change the significance of that research, but may make the voles a little less popular among political agitators for sexual abstinence. (Eric Keroack, who headed a government family-planning committee in the United States, even used the monogamous voles as evidence to support his view that people who have extramarital sex damage their oxytocin signalling mechanisms.)

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