On our way home, we somehow got on the subject of romance. He claimed that most men don’t really know what being romantic is. He says that men just know that if they do something nice for a woman she will often perceive it to be romantic. Basically, they are romantic by default.
I wasn’t willing to give that to him. I can name several men that I know personally–(go Jason, Bruce, Jesus, Da-rrelll, and Anthony!) who go to great lengths to be romantic with their women, and there are MANY youtube examples of incredible lengths that men have gone to to propose to their women (flash-mob @ Downtown Disney: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Su1YLAjty-U), which is he epitome of romantic. I tried to explain from my point of view what I thought to be romantic, and I really got tripped up. For once, the wordy Gemini didn’t have the words to describe what she was feeling about what made a gesture “romantic” vs. nice. The best I could do was to say that a romantic gesture–no matter what it is–is something that makes the receiving party feel special. That didn’t quite sum it up, but that was all I had.
Obviously I’m still thinking about it (I sometimes, ok all the time, can’t let go of something till its complete in my mind), so I went to my favorite on-line resource: Dictionary.com.
http://sp.dictionary.com/dictstatic/d/g/speaker.swf [roh-man-tik] Show IPA
For those of you interested in the full definition (quite a bit more lengthy, but not relevant to our discussion: Romantic | Define Romantic at Dictionary.com.
After sleeping on it, and looking at the definition, I have a slightly different perspective. While something that makes a lady feel special CAN be romantic, that is not what makes it romantic. You can make your child or mother feel special, but that wouldn’t be romantic.
I put forth this definition:
A romantic gesture is something that is driven by ardent love, and does not have any practical value. (Which is why no wife would ever want to get a vacuum or new fridge as a gift–EVER–not matter what she says.) Romantic gestures might also be formed around something meaningful to the person–but new things are also exciting. It is the frivolous nature of romantic things (flowers, chocolates, diamonds) that make them romantic, because their only purpose is to please or impress the recipient. And its the thoughtful ness of the act that matters. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it must be imbued with the attention and focus of the giver (ie. A hand picked bouquet of flowers might be more romantic than store-bought).
I recognize that being romantic may be difficult, or even seem useless, especially the older we get. You have to have confidence in yourself, and believe that your action will be received well by the intended recipient, or that several actions over time will win them over in the long run. Its risky business. But the riskiness of it INCREASES the romantic nature of it. I can imagine that some people become battle hardened war veterans. They still believe in the cause (or maybe they just can’t give it up), but all of the defeats have worn down their moral. I imagine that a man who’s seen 20+ years of relationships, may have put in a full romantic effort on his first girlfriend or wife, and for each subsequent relationship it seemed less and less worth the effort-its probably not going to last anyway, right? And a woman who has seen the same number of relationships, is also tired of wanting something romantic, and of being disappointed, and doesn’t really expect much in that department any more. So she accepts men who provide less and less romance, or don’t provide any romance at all, but they are “stable”. It makes me wonder about longevity of relationships and how the feminist movement has affected the idea of romance in our lives. I think feminism has made men confused and/or lazy, and made women over-function. I think back to the times when girls had several suitors. The act, in and of itself, creates more value for the relationship. The suitors had to work hard to get the girl, the girl felt like she got the best of the choices available to her. This dynamic builds in a reverence and appreciation for the relationship itself.
I grew up believing that romance was something for other people-fairytales and the girls who were “special”, but now I think that romance is part of a strong connection is VITAL to a lasting relationship. In a world where we truly are free to divorce whenever we want (unlike our grandparents who had social pressures to stay together), I believe that romance is the glue that will keep people together. Romance smooths over the rough spots and refocuses the couple’s attention back into the relationship. It can help dissolve hurts, and repair broken bits of the heart. Where there is romance, there is a natural inclination towards meaningful sex, which deepens emotional connections. No matter how old you are, romance is important. Cherishing each other, and making your relationship the number one priority, to which all things are subordinate will keep people together. The respect and honor that comes from that will ensure a harmonious environment from which all things will flow naturally.
Guys, get off your duffs and do something special for your lady. If you are paying the slightest bit of attention, you’ll hear her talk about the things she really likes.
Ladies, shut your traps, do not analyze, critique, or otherwise “help” your man in his endeavors. Just search your souls and remember how to be receptive, and appreciative. If its not perfect. So what.
Carolyn Myss says, “We don’t really want another life….we just want to be in love with the life we have, and the people we have chosen to share it with.”