UNLIKE celebrities, lonely farmers and townies don’t often get questioned about their romantic lives by microphone-thrusting reporters. But that doesn’t mean the media doesn’t want to hear from them.
The BBC is planning a new show, Love in the Countryside, on which city and country folk will pair up.
Actor Orlando Bloom has said he wants to get married again. Fellow actor, Charlotte Rampling, told the Daily Mail that she’s “an animal that needs a mate”.
Yet, Bloom, Rampling, and the Love in the Countryside participants will have little in common, other than a willingness to publicly voice their quest for a partner.
Whether or not verbalising the wish for a romance increases its likelihood of happening is something singer Sinead O’Connor knows more than most.
Five-and-a-half years ago, she wed a man she reportedly met online four months previously. A couple of months before she married, she went on the Late Late Show and spoke about her search for a man. Perhaps that public voicing of her wish to marry propelled her to Las Vegas.
We all have a primal longing to connect, but we don’t always voice it or admit it to the world, say Cork-based relationship experts, Tom Evans and Alison Winfield.
From his Midleton base, Evans opines that publicly stating that you want to marry is a positive thing: “We all keep a lot of stuff going around in our heads. So, to outwardly express what was previously held within is to make a strong statement of open-heartedness and readiness for change.
“Often, we don’t fully connect with what’s in our heads until we say it aloud. The saying makes it more likely to resonate in the heart, and when that happens the wish is more likely to be fulfilled.”
Evans mulls, too, but says: “I often process things for lengthy periods, but I’m aware that to really shift stuff, we need to hear ourselves say it.” He says the desire for a mate ranges from the primal to the lofty, as in a yearning for connectedness: “Either way, it’s important. We’re designed to connect and we don’t function well when isolated. Worse, we tend towards dysfunction when aloneness becomes the norm.”
For Alison Winfield, who runs Mindfully Well, a counselling service in Douglas, the question as to whether we should tell others about our goals depends on how serious we are about them.
“Our brains absolutely thrive on clear goals. But the telling of them brings a degree of accountability that can give us the extra little push we need,” she says.
With a client-base comprising Irish, Americans, Europeans and Asians, Ennistymon, Co Clare-based matchmaker, Willie Daly, is the ‘go to’ man for many a marriage-seeker.
There was a time when 90%of his clients were farmers, but that’s changing, as increasing numbers of professionals seek his help in finding a match.
“They’re financially secure business people, leading busy lives. Many didn’t make time for romance, put it on the back-shelf, then get to thinking they’ve left it too late,” he says.
For them, Daly has words of hope: “It’s never too late to search for love. Right now, I’ve a couple of people in their late 80s who’re seeking a match,” he says.
As for whether we Irish find it difficult to say aloud to others that we want to get married, Daly says we’re getting better at it.
“In the past, and this is slightly regrettable, it would usually be the people who most wanted a husband or wife who would be the shyest and the last people to say the words: ‘I want to marry you’.” But not everyone is so vocal: “Sadly, a lot spend most of their lives being a bit too shy to tell partners, and even wives, that they love them.”
“Really lovely, genuine people often go through their lives without saying those words out loud to anyone, and this is unfortunate, as they’re wonderful words to hear,” Daly says.
But the spoken word, while important, is not vital, says Daly: “Many tender, gentle people show love rather than voice it. Women intuitively pick up on that. They’re fast to recognise the softness, sweetness, respect, and tenderness for the love that drives it.”
Daly says that at the Lisdoonvarna matchmaking festival, which runs through the month of September and the first week in October, many an Irishman will walk up to a girl they do not know and ask: ‘Will you marry me?’
“Usually, that’s said as a joke, in jest, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Of course, they never expect anyone to reply with a ‘Yes’.”
But women have said yes to the men who jokingly proposed to them at Lisdoonvarna, leaving the men, who never expected an affirmative reply, ‘spellbound’ in response.
Do these festival-going men make good and follow through, by marrying the strangers who spontaneously agree to marry them? Are Lisdoon’ love-seekers really that zany?
Daly ponders those questions awhile and, as he does, I visualise the Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival scene, complete with fast-fingered fiddlers playing wild, Irish tunes, as shy, cap-wearing farmers clutch chilled pints of larger or beer — one in each hand to steady the nerves — and battle shyness to talk with the marriage-minded revellers they encounter.
“Love at first sight is a wonderful thing, as is an instant attraction,” says Daly, pensively, having pondered the topics enough. “These are things that sometimes happen.”
I know Willie. But what of the farmers who jokingly approach pretty strangers at matchmaking festivals with a cheeky-sounding ‘Will you marry me?’ What do they do when, wildly unexpectedly and dare I suggest eerily, the ladies reply ‘Yes’ and actually mean it? “Well, that only happens every now and again and, when it does, the biggest percentage of the men become a little shy and bashful in response.”
But what do they do? What do they say? “Most don’t really know how they’re supposed to react to the women. So, they do what you imagine they might do”. He pauses again and, eyes twinkling, replies: “They run away and hide.”