the problem with call me maybe

I know, I know, the Carly Rae Jepsen hit from this summer is So. Darned. Catchy! So, YOU’RE WELCOME for getting it stuck in your head.

But have you ever really listened to those lyrics you find yourself repeating in the shower? Besides the fact that saying, “Call me . . . maybe,” and getting all worked up because he doesn’t call is dumb, the tag at the end is a little confusing (not to mention grammatically incorrect, but we’ll let that slide just this once).

“Before you came into my life I missed you so bad.”

Ummm . . . what?

How can you miss someone you’ve never met? Apparently this can be done, because it comes up in lots of songs and even the always accurate-in-portraying-real-life romantic comedies.

From Reba McEntire and Rascal Flatts to Lenny Kravitz and K-Ci & Jo-Jo (yes, I did look up the correct spelling and punctuation for that group), singers have been crooning about this convoluted idea of destiny and determination for years. Here are a just a couple recent examples:

  • “Wherever you are, whenever it’s right, you’ll come out of nowhere and into my life . . . And I promise you, kid, I give so much more than I get I just haven’t met you yet.” – Michael Buble
  • “Where have you been, cause I never see you out. Are you hiding from me, yeah? Somewhere in the crowd? Where have you been, all my life?” – Rhianna

And then there are the movies. I will concede that the basic premise of The Wedding Date with Debra Messing and Dermot Mulroney is heinous. But I will not deny watching it anytime it’s on cable, no, I won’t. And before I thought about it, hearing these words from the main character’s mouth seemed oh-so-dreamy: “I think I’d miss you even if we never met.

I even found an appearance of this craziness on several “top romantic movie quotes” lists. (Yes, I know. The things I do for you. Oh, the sacrifice. Heh.) Apparently, in A Place in the Sun, Montgomery Clift’s character says to Elizabeth Taylor’s character, “I love you. I’ve loved you since the first moment I saw you. I guess maybe I’ve even loved you before I saw you.”


Now, look, I am not some hardened, embittered soul who scoffs at the idea of romance. If you’re new here, a quick perusal of my archives will reveal my extensive and unashamed love of the romantic comedy, TV shows ripe with romantic tension and even romance novels.

But come on. What are we doing to ourselves by swooning to the tune of, “I knew I loved you before I met you. I think I dreamed you into life.” Note to Savage Garden: You cannot dream someone into life!

If only we could. But we can’t. And by perpetuating this idea that the person we love is the embodiment of every dream or fantasy we had, we are simply setting ourselves up for deep disappointment.

It’s been a long time since I fell in love with my husband, but I [vaguely] remember how exciting it was. In the beginning of our relationship, it really did seem like he’d stepped out of my teenage fantasies, perfectly designed to fulfill all of my romantic wishes.

Cue reality.

Your guy might seem like the one you’ve dreamed of . . . until he forgets your birthday. Or shows up late for your date. Or accidentally offends your mom. Or wears khakis that are just too tight. Or tells you he hates your favorite band. Or refuses to see one more chick flick. Or admits that he knows all the words to every New Kids on the Block song. Or watches football all weekend, ignoring your pleas for conversation – or bathing.

None of those things is really a deal-breaker, but when held up to the impossible picture of Your Dream Man, the discrepancy is harsh. And it can torpedo a perfectly healthy relationship in no time at all.

As many of you know, I love reading all kinds of books, including serious, grown-up books. And that’s why I’m not [too] embarrassed to tell you that I particularly enjoyed a series of romance novels a few years ago about a romance novelist and two of her characters who somehow came to life. Yes, it’s a ridiculous premise, but I found it wildly entertaining.

The issue causing tension in the book wasn’t actually how the main character had to keep her fiction-come-to-life friends a secret or how the three of them solved murder mysteries (I know.). It was how, in real life, all the qualities that had made the leading man an ideal romantic hero were actually quite annoying.

See, that’s the thing. We don’t dream about real people. And the people we dream of are probably not all that great in reality. So let’s quit singing about how we’ve been dreaming our honeys into life (gag.) and, more importantly, let’s stop comparing our significant others to our dreams.

No, I mean it. Let’s stop it. Right now. All together. I’ll go first.

My husband has never written me a love song or poem. But the man of my dreams never collected inside jokes with me over the years, tickled our daughter until she couldn’t talk through the giggles, or made my heart skip just by winking at me 18 years after I met him.

Now it’s your turn. Your significant other probably doesn’t live up to your dreams in some ways, but what does he or she do that is WAY BETTER than anything you could have dreamed?

This post is part of 31 Days of Giving Up on Perfect, because seriously, nobody – our significant others or ourselves – are perfect. All month long, I’ll be working through a whole lot of ways I’m fighting perfectionism. For more 31 Days, visit The Nester.

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