Today's topic is romance: What exactly is romance? And is it overrated? Donna of The Bare Essentials Today and Brian of The Cheek of God offer their opinions, so read on . . .
Romance is overrated
Romance (n., adj.) a fictitious tale of wonderful and extraordinary events characterized by a non-realistic and idealizing use of the imagination. An exaggeration or fabrication that has no real substance.
Our culture has defined romance as the ultimate experience in an intimate relationship. It's idealized as the euphoria of being "in love." When, in reality, it doesn't have anything to do with love, but more so with having your personal needs met. It becomes the catalyst for having certain needs met, while not having to define or put a label on those needs.
If you're already having your "personal needs" met in any relationship you're in, where is the need for this fictitious tale or this grandiose display of affection?
I guess I'm just a simple kind of gal. A desirous look into my eyes. A simple I love you. I don't need any over-the-top gestures to let me know that I'm needed and wanted. And I guess to some those would be considered romantic gestures, but I think they should be part of the norm, rather than the exception.
I just Googled "romantic gestures" and these are a few of the gems that I came up with:
1) Do the laundry - really? I would expect that from a partner.
2) Write a message with a bar of soap on the mirror - Who's gonna clean that up?
3) Unwind with a glass of wine - Again another given.
4) Share things about your work day - It's called dialogue. And work? Not really so romantic!
5) Change her oil - Really?
6) Go grocery shopping - No comment.
7) Pay her a compliment in front of people you know - Again, no comment.
8) Help with or do the dishes - I would expect that. (Maybe I expect too much!)
9) Have a quickie somewhere new - Hot, but definitely not romantic.
10) Express appreciation for specific things your partner does for you - Again, a Thank You would be expected.
11) Be his/her slave for a day - Again, could be hot but there's nothing romantic about that. Slave is such an undermining term.
Maybe I'm too jaded. Maybe it's because I'm single right now. But none of these seem like they are worth the effort or would mean as much to me as a gesture that I would just expect to come naturally in a relationship (I love you, winks, soft touches, etc.). Well, maybe the quickie someplace new ;)
I once dated this guy who lived by the book The 5 Love Languages. He quizzed me on it during our first date and apparently by my answers he concluded that I thought like a dude. Maybe he was right.
What do you consider romantic?
Methinks Donna made up that definition of romance, based on her experiences, and I sort of like it. And yet I must (or rather, the nature of this type of post forces me to) disagree. Romance isn't some "exaggeration or fabrication that has no real substance." I believe instead that there is a very real, substantial, and yet ultimately mysterious element within genuine romance. To wit, I'll offer my favorite definition, straight from the American Heritage English Dictionary:
romance (n.) - A mysterious or fascinating quality or appeal, as of something adventurous, heroic, or strangely beautiful.
In short, I believe romance isn't just something we do, it is also, more importantly, something that is a part of us. And romance often manifests itself in ways that are not so easily pinpointed.
Looking back at Donna's list of romantic gestures, a cautionary theme emerges: Be wary of any guy who does such things - especially when they are actions he typically doesn't perform - for, in the end, he did it all for the nookie, and such actions ultimately lead to disappointment and heartache. In the same vein, Kevin Leman once wrote that Sex Begins in the Kitchen. And while the book makes some interesting points, the overall message - that intimacy can be cultivated by the things we do - is too simplistic. Too pragmatic. For if we do things only to get things, then isn't that merely manipulation?
That dog don't hunt. And perhaps it's because of people who believed this tripe, and tried to apply these principles in their relationships with Donna, that she has become so jaded. (My apologies, Donna, on behalf of right-thinking men everywhere.)
So what am I getting at?
In gearing up to write this post, I did a bit of research. (See, Shelle!? I may write these posts on the day they are due, but I usually preface my writing with a modicum of preparation ;-) I stopped by my local Barnes & Noble and perused the magazine rack, seeking some current thoughts on romance and relationships from a man's perspective. I flipped through recent issues of GQ, Esquire, Men's Journal. Even Maxim. And while the pictures were lovely, and I do occasionally enjoy reading about camping, technology, style and fitness, there was nary a solid piece of relationship advice to be found. I even dove into family- and relationship-oriented magazines like Family Fun and Parenting and came up empty.
And then I saw it! "Make Me Laugh: Humor and Romance" on the cover of . . . Scientific American Mind?!
Here are the bullet points from science writer Christie Nicholson's article, titled "The Humor Gap:"
1) When seeking a mate, men desire women who laugh at their jokes, whereas women prefer men who can make them laugh.
2) Once a man and a woman are in a relationship, humor roles change.
This article confirmed for me two very obvious things about my relationship with my wife:
1) She was immediately hooked after I guzzled root beer floats and shoved pizza up my nose. Witnessing me at my slapstick best, she loved me anyway and gave me a shot.
2) Her enduring sense of humor made my recent extended period of unemployment tolerable. In fact, I can safely say that she saved my life on more than one occasion, simply by reaching down into my depths (she refuses to go there with me) and lifting me up with her tried-and-true, one-two combination of compassion and encouragement, both tinged with her own subtle, humorous touch.
As we've grown old together, humor has been the constant fuel for our romantic fire. Initially, I was the comedian and she my willing audience. She laughed at me, and I dug her laughter. Now, we share inside jokes, the punchlines of which are ours alone. And none of this is the result of any particular thing we've done. It's who we are. There is no exaggeration there. Only the reality of two lives merged into one. Two roads that lead toward a common goal:
So, as I've defined it, romance is indeed necessary - even if not so easily pigeonholed - and far from overrated. For those that would be romantic, there must be the realization that romance transcends actions. Accordingly, romance goes beyond having your personal needs met. Those things come with the proper foundation is laid. And the foundation is not made merely of the things you do, but by the stuff of which you are. And relationships built on the right stuff will stand . . .
1 year ago