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