Thursday, December 31, 2009

Relationship advice from Elizabeth Barrett Browning, kind of

Dear Prudence uses poetry in her response to "Flowerless" in today's column.
Dear Prudie,
I am a 32-year-old single mother of a teenager who has been dating a great guy for the past year. He is my age and has no kids. Most of my relationships haven't lasted more than a few months. This guy is perfect in many respects. He constantly tells me he loves me, gets along with my son, helps me around my house, plans his weekends to include me, and has introduced me to his family. The problem is that in the past year he has never bought me flowers. I know it may seem petty, but it's something I think shows a woman that a man was thinking about her throughout the day and that he appreciates her. I have mentioned to him how much this bothers me, but it doesn't seem to change. Should I be concerned?

Dear Flowerless,
Elizabeth Barrett Browning understood how you feel. In her exquisite "Sonnet 44," which begins, "Belovèd, thou hast brought me many flowers," the poet writes of how the blossoms from her lover have taken root in her own soul. However, reviewing your situation, here is the first line of my sonnet to you: "Flowerless, thou art out of thy blooming mind." You were a teenage mother who has been alone nearly the entirety of your son's life. Now, you have someone who loves you, takes care of you and your son, and offers you the possibility of building a life together—and you're hectoring him because he doesn't conform to some horticultural cliché you've invested with disproportionate meaning. My sonnet for you ends thusly: "Forget the flowers, lest ye be boyfriendless."

Thanks, Laura, for the tip.

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