3.  The “Pinch-test”

clickingheelsI don’t recall where I heard this, nor when, nor even from whom, but ever since I’ve remembered the following piece of advice: “Never think of marrying a girl unless you can’t believe your luck that you’ve found her.”  Of course, this is one of those “rules” that probably ought to apply to the gals as well as the chaps; but, my dear fellows, we I think it is who as a sub-species are the more likely to be unwittingly presumptuous and ungrateful.  Rule of thumb, innit. 

Now I know that this is supposed to be a bunch of courtship rules I’m blagging here, and this one might seem a bit too advanced for those just thinking of, say, asking a girl out to lunch for the first time or some such.  But, believe me—if you are in the quite early stages of a budding romance and find you’re pinching yourself to check you’re not in a cruelly bliss-making dream, this is a terrifically good sign.  The converse also applies—if you’re not blinking in delighted incredulity at the profligate blessing of a gal’s presence in your life pretty soon into the game, you may be in danger of “settling”.

“Don’t settle” is in itself quite a good rule, because it reminds us that we need to have a very good reason indeed to relinquish our single state—better than, “Ach, but I’m lonely and this gal’s taken a shine to me, and she’s not at all bad—better to marry than to burn, eh?”   But this rule has been dealt with by others before me, so I’m not going to say too much about it.  What I will say is that the pinch-test is a way of checking whether you may be “settling” and therefore whether you may be surrendering the (by divine precept, superior) state of singleness for something temporarily more appealing but ultimately less rewarding than the fullness of life offered by persisting in your current state (temporarily, or permanently).  Work at being “seraphically single” [due acknowledgement, my dear!] (harder work for some than for others, of course) unless and until you are smacked about the chops with a romantic prospect so appealing that it strikes you as positively your vocation to pursue it.  If you’re miserable being single, you ought to exercise the strictest of caution when confronted by the prospect of entering into a relationship: to a hungry man the odour of freshly-baked bread seems to waft from every available loaf-shaped item in the vicinity.

This may seem a counsel of perfection, or even a bit of overwrought self-projection.  [To those sitting at the back and shouting out, “Get a blog, man, and spare us the smug rot!” I send the timely reminder to, well, pinch themselves…]  Not everyone, it will be objected, feels the same intensity of emotion at the beginning of a relationship and yet many people who drift steadily and un-self-harmingly into a romantic partnership end up having long and happy marriages.  This certainly seems to be true.  But I have seldom encountered a chap in a genuinely happy marriage or engagement whom I wouldn’t imagine at some stage thereof having gleefully chuckled to himself at his luck in bagging his gal—it’s not reasonably to be expected that he would do so in front of me.  And ask yourselves this: how many couples about whom there’s no evidence of a continuing sense of deep gladness and gratitude for their being with their spouse, however decently and reticently borne, would you really call well-matched?

“Alright,” some of you are saying, “I know a bit about this B.A. chappy from reading around the blogosphere: it’s all very well for him, the smug blighter, to grin and croon and crow, having inveigled one of the most delightful creatures ever to have trodden the sod to associate herself with him—but we can’t all be that lucky.”   Well, none of you, I hope, will ever be quite that lucky—I’m not intending to let this one go I’m afraid, chaps.  But.  The point is that whomever you consort with should inspire at some stage this kind of pinch-test.  Or so it seems to this admittedly smug blighter.