Daters, I Think We’re Suffering From The Paris Syndrome

There was a recent article in The Atlantic about Paris Syndrome, a real psychological disorder that occurs when tourists realize that the City of Light isn’t as grandiose as they expected it to be. According to the piece, the syndrome has afflicted at least 20 victims this year, most of them Japanese tourists. One even had to be flown back home under medical supervision.

Paris Syndrome manifests itself differently in different people, but amongst the most common symptoms are acute delusions, hallucinations, dizziness, sweating, and feelings of persecution. The shock of coming to grips with a city that is indifferent to their presence and looks nothing like their imagination launches tourists into a psychological tailspin.

FASCINATING. I was just in Paris (for the second time) and was nothing short of completely wooed by the city. It exceeded all of my expectations. However, the description of the disorder sounded eerily familiar to me. Why? Oh, because that’s how I feel when I date.

As is the case with Paris, dating gets a “fairly idealized” representation in the media. A couple on their first date laughing and smiling, feeding each other ice cream. Frolicking, hand-in-hand through a European city. Rom-coms further perpetuate the “dating is great” myth. A couple breaks up and then they miss each other so much that one hops a plane across the country on New Year’s Eve to find the other and drops a glove that eventually brings them together.

No wonder we think dating is a unicorn shitting rainbows, and put ourselves out there again and again, deluding ourselves about the gritty reality, developing temporary amnesia when it comes to the Eiffel Tower of love and finding ourselves psychologically distraught when our date tells us he’s a criminal or we get dumped on New Year’s Eve and never talk to the person again.

While I’m relieved to finally have a diagnosis for my condition, I want to talk treatment.

“[How] can tourists prepare themselves for the City of Light, and avoid being rushed home with a doctor on an emergency flight back to their homeland?” asks the article.

Good question. How can we daters prepare ourselves so as not to be caught in the tailspin of reality vs. expectation? How can we prevent ourselves from contracting the Paris Syndrome?

One [should] expect a Paris that meets the reasonable portrait in one’s imagination. The city will be dirty, crowded, loud, and indifferent — but it will be beautiful and breathtaking. And as long as one does not expect the furniture to spring to life and help you get ready for your dance with the Beast, a trip to this city will be fulfilling, exciting, and, most importantly, free of debilitating hallucinations.

Best dating advice I ever heard. [The Atlantic]