#FOMO and the Romance Novel?

What implications might FOMO (the fear of missing out) or its closely related cousin YOLO (you only live once)  have for the romance novel?

This question came to mind not that long ago when I saw an alumni bulletin from a school where I have a very loose connection.

So some years ago, before I began the process towards ordination, I did a distance learning program offered by one of the Episcopal seminaries. As a result, I am on their mailing list. Go figure. I have never been on the campus, but I suppose I’m an alumna, because I pursued a certificate program with them.

Anyway, this recent bulletin had a story that was just lovely from a sweet romance standpoint.

The woman in the story matriculated in the early 1970s. She was a freshman when she met a senior who asked her out. She didn’t want to go out with him, but his response stopped her in her tracks: “You know, you might be missing out.”

Missing out for her meant missing out on a chance to go on a date with a young man she came to enjoy getting to know. She wasn’t willing to take that chance, and the rest was history.

She dropped out of school to get married because he was about to go to law school and long distance would not have worked. She then worked for a number of years before she quit to become a stay-at-home mother. She only returned to school years later, once her children were themselves done with their college educations and out of the house.  The alumni magazine commemorated her recent graduations: college and graduate school.

I loved this story because she was willing to take a chance on building something lovely and substantive, a decades long marriage with children and grandchildren.  Her husband and family were there to support her every step of the way.

I must admit that I had a quibble, though. I didn’t like that she dropped out of school. It seems that she should have been able to transfer to a college nearby her fiance and finish at the same time he was in law school.

The heroines of Starting Over: Rick,  Going Home: Roger, and the Wedding Bet: Lauren (work in progress) were faced with similar dilemmas. They were dating men who were older and more established. So the question for them was whether they were willing to make a sacrifice and dedicate themselves to building a valuable long term relationship at what would be seen as a very young age today.

Each did so, and quite gladly, but they didn’t drop out of school. They could be in college and date. They could be in college and be married.

Copyright Barbara James. All rights reserved.