AFTERCARE

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - BODY & SOUL -

Re­move brown­ing leaves; wa­ter well in dry spells. Split up ma­ture clumps of berge­nias to give a new crop of healthy plants. Re­plant young shoots. anye West’s $3.3m mar­riage pro­posal to Kim Kar­dashian in a San Fran­cisco base­bal l sta­dium may have been pure Hol­ly­wood the­atrics, but their re­la­tion­ship, in fact, bucks the showbiz stan­dard. Far from be­ing a whirl­wind ro­mance — or one or­ches­trated by agents for max­i­mum pub­lic­ity — Kim and Kanye’s en­gage­ment is built on a nine-year friend­ship.

It took Kim a dis­as­trous 72- day mar­riage to the bas­ket­ball star Kris Humphries for her to re­alise, fi­nally, that Kanye, 36 (whom she’d met in 2004 and stayed in touch with ever since), was the man for her. Af­ter he staged his elab­o­rate pro­posal on her 33rd birth­day in Oc­to­ber, pre­sent­ing her with a 15-carat di­a­mond ring, she gushed on Twit­ter, ‘I get to marry my best friend!’

Their re­la­tion­ship is the very def­i­ni­tion of a slow-burn ro­mance. In an age where peo­ple want the like-whatyou-see im­me­di­acy of in­stant lookup dat­ing apps such as Tin­der, it seems a rather quaint, old-fash­ioned way to fall in love. Yet re­la­tion­ship ex­pert and au­thor An­drew G Mar­shall says cou­ples stand a greater chance of long-term hap­pi­ness when there’s hin­ter­land to their re­la­tion­ship.

‘One of the prob­lems with dat­ing nowa­days is that there’s no con­text,’ he says. ‘Peo­ple can post fake pro­files and pic­tures online, or tell all sorts of lies. Know­ing some­one al­ready gives you more re­as­sur­ance and you can let your guard down.’

An on­go­ing aca­demic study by the US Na­tional Mar­riage Project has also con­cluded that cou­ples who al­ready know each other fare much bet­ter. ‘De­spite the ro­man­tic no­tion that peo­ple meet and fall in love through chance or fate, ev­i­dence sug­gests that so­cial net­works are im­por­tant in bring­ing to­gether in­di­vid­u­als of sim­i­lar in­ter­ests and back­grounds,’ says David Pope­noe, pro­fes­sor of so­ci­ol­ogy emer­i­tus at Rut­gers Univer­sity in the US.

An­drew G Mar­shall be­lieves the rea­son dat­ing some­one you’ve known for years seems so old-fash­ioned is be­cause, as a so­ci­ety, we’re ob­sessed with the idea that we have to be swept off our feet when we meet some­one new. ‘Be­cause of this great de­sire to find “The One”, we’ve gone from go­ing on a date and think­ing, “Oh, that was quite nice; I hope we meet again,” to it be­com­ing a high-stakes event that quickly be­comes all­con­sum­ing and pas­sion­ate — and burns it­self out six weeks later,’ he says. ‘The great ad­van­tage of some­body be­ing a friend is that your eyes are open rather than it be­ing a fan­tasy. You’ve got a much more rounded pic­ture of them and that’s a good start­ing point.’

One com­mon con­cern about slow­burn re­la­tion­ships is that they lack ex­cite­ment be­cause cou­ples skip that first stage of in­stant at­trac­tion. Sarah was ini­tially re­jected by her now hus­band be­cause they’d never had that ‘thunderbolt’ mo­ment. They had been best friends for years — reg­u­larly go­ing away on hol­i­day to­gether — but his ar­gu­ment, af­ter she had de­clared her feel­ings for him, seemed to be that re­la­tion­ships could only work when they’d been kick­started by some huge spark. But it was amidst an ac­tual thun­der­storm on the is­land of Capri on yet another hol­i­day ‘as friends’ that he was struck by the re­al­i­sa­tion that she was, in fact, the per­fect part­ner for him. Within months they were mar­ried and now have a son.

‘Grand pas­sion is of­ten more about fan­tasy than it is about re­al­ity, be­cause no­body is quite like how they present them­selves in that first pas­sion­ate mo­ment,’ says Mar­shall. ‘And those in­tense feel­ings don’t last for ever.’ Nor does he be­lieve slow-burn cou­ples have to work harder at their re­la­tion­ships to make them seem as

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