I’m generally drawn to bloggers who give me a reason to think and force me to question my own perspectives. Rants lambasting a husband for leaving the seat up again, reflections on the heartwarming nature of a child’s poo, or commentary on the character of your stuffed deer head rarely spark my cerebral engine. I much prefer to swim at the deep end of the psychological pool.
In a recent thought-provoking post Marrie, the author of Dirty in Public, came to the defense of men everywhere regarding the fickle notion of romance and how us dudes aren’t as unromantic as Cosmopolitan might claim. She summarized her observation brilliantly:
“I think that a man’s ability to express his love to a woman should not be limited by women to only include the idealistic female interpretation. Emotional closeness and intimacy is a shared experience that should appreciate the different perspectives of those involved; not be dictated by only one.”
As I began to meditate on this nugget of wisdom I thought back on my past relationships and how this idea of romance fit.
I was never considered a romantic – whatever that means. The fact is, on more than one occasion I was told the exact opposite and over time this became such a common theme I started believing I was forever to remain the failed idealist, which led me to eventually ask ‘why even bother?’ I consistently struggled with what ‘romantic’ should look like? Was it a never-ending stream of candlelit dinners and prepared baths replete with floating candles and rose petals, or masseuse quality foot massages using lavender fragranced lotions and CVS quality heart-shaped boxes of chocolate? My teachers (the romantic comedy) seemed to include these or similar deeds as the male character executed his obligatory screw up and proceeded to waste the next 60 minutes of my life performing mind-numbing stunts of romanticism in an attempt to woo his lost love back. Did I need to act emotionally retarded and turn into an a-hole in order to be romantic?
Thinking about the romance in those relationships, through the lense of Marrie’s post, one question kept coming back over and over:
“How romantic where these women towards me?”
And it was that thought what prompted my response to her article:“Women’s ideas about romance have been garnered through years of indoctrination by Disney, Lifetime TV, and romance novels. What these same women fail to grasp is the commonality among each of those mediums – they are made up stories. No, Romeo and Juliet didn’t actually happen.
The knight in shining armor they want so desperately would be a major disappointment if they knew how those men in the 15th century actually were. Only after a literary makeover do they become the Don Juan of a woman’s fantasies.
Lastly, and I’m just going to say this, it’s easier for a woman to complain about her man’s “lack of romance” than it is to look in the mirror and realize she is no more romantic than the man she criticizes.”
I’m just wondering at what point it became the man’s sole responsibility to keep the romance in a relationship? And why is it when said romance fizzles it’s immediately the man’s fault and when was romance only defined by a trail of flowers leading to her bubble bath, surprise get-a-ways to Tahiti, or reservations for an afternoon at the spa? In other words, when did romance become so one sided?
Most women’s expectations of romance have become far too Danielle Steele and too little USA Today. Which leads to a complete fail when the average guy’s feeble attempts at romance are stacked up against fictional scripts, scene retakes, and literary edits. And for the record, men of the real world don’t have a white stallion parked in the garage and I’ve yet to find a tailor specializing in shiny armor.
Romantic acts can happen absent candlelight and bouquets.
Whether we’d like to believe it or not men want and need to be romanced as much as any woman – and for the same reasons. And regardless of what Hollywood insists romance for a man is far more than the mere physical, though that’s surely a bonus. But in the final analysis the most romantic thing a couple can do together – is be together. And contrary to popular belief romantic acts can and do happen absent candlelight and bouquets.
Like everything else in life perceptions change over time and that includes our idea of romance. What might have been romantic in our 20’s seems like a waste of time and money in our 40’s. There was a time when staying up drinking and talking into until the sun came up would have been romantic – now I’m good with a cup of coffee and a solid eight hours.
Romance will disappear when it’s restricted to one partner’s unique interpretation, because the other’s efforts get ignored since they don’t fit into a preconceived notion. Is it any less romantic if he fills up your car unexpectedly, sits beside you as you watch DWTS, or pays you a surprise visit at lunch? Or does it only count if it’s part of Glamour Magazine’s “Romantic things your man should be doing!”? Unfortunately, romance has become less about the intent and more about the end result.
But romance happens every day, we just have to know where to look.