It’s the most timeless thing in the history of time: romance. Cupid’s arrows have been flying about since before Christ was born and they are still going strong. They strike down hundreds of thousands of unassuming folks every single day. Then follows the age-old duet of endless phone calls, intimate dates, blooming flowers, and sparkling gifts. If your eyes aren’t glazed over already, here is a little statistic: Valentine’s Day spending in US alone is about $20 Billion. That’s one day in one country, folks (if you are reading this post and didn’t get a gift on Valentine’s Day, now is the time to breathe, just breathe — killing him is not the solution!).
We are obsessed, aren’t we? Shakespeare wrote some 40 plays and 150 sonnets and all we can really remember about the poor guy is “Romeo and Juliet” — suicide in love. Just doesn’t get more romantic than that. Every culture has its own versions of romance that are full of grand gestures — wars fought and monuments built and every little detail documented in ballads and books. Today, it translates into the customary chocolates and jewelry (to all the men complaining about that, had it been the 17th century, you would have to commit suicide to prove your love).
Interrupting the trance of romance
For one moment though, I’ll request that Cupid take a (well-deserved) rest while I ask a little question: what does romance stand for?
We spend years waiting for that one prolonged look, for that perfect candlelit dinner, for that obscenely huge bouquet and that dazzling faultless solitaire. What does it mean? The longer the look, the truer the love?
We spend months planning the most romantic wedding. That wedding dress should make Vera Wang tear up and that first dance should make William and Kate look clumsy like Mr. and Mrs. Shrek. What does it mean? The more romantic the wedding, the longer the marriage?
For all these years, have we been using romance as the proxy for love? More importantly, is it?
If he loves to hold your hand, is he a keeper? What if the guy takes care of you in a dependable sort of way but suffers from sweaty palms? Would you rather have a big bouquet of roses or would you rather he gets laundry done while you are having a difficult day at work (I know you want to say both, but then even your guy wants a cross between Angelina Jolie and Martha Stewart — all the best with that!)?
Romance is just that — romance
It’s exciting and it’s fun but it is not Love. In fact, a lot of times, there is no correlation between the two. You could have a lot of romance — a lot of flowers, a lot of dates, a lot of chocolates — and the very next day a little fight can end in a breakup because your partner can give you flowers but they cannot give up their ego. All the same, if they never ever get you those flowers but keep calm while you are having a “nobody mess with me” day, what you miss are some roses, but what you get is understanding — that’s a pretty good deal.
There can be love without romance and it can last you a lifetime, but the other way around doesn’t work. It cannot last. Sure, things can get boring, but all that’s needed is for you to drag your partner out of bed and throw a tantrum about wanting to go eat at that new place. The best part is that when you do go eat at that new place, you don’t get judged for spilling food all over your clothes despite the napkin around your neck. The romantic fellow with the jewelry is going to sit there getting embarrassed; that boring dependable guy will help you clean up (after adequate laughter of course — no one is an angel here).
I guess it’s time we let cute little Cupid grow up a bit. For those of us who have seen our parents together for 30 years, we know it’s not about romance. In fact, if your dad got your mum flowers, she would probably rush him to the doctor. Not to mention your dad cannot distinguish a rose from a cactus, so it’s a stretch anyway.
It’s about just hanging around and being there in a consistent (though sometimes reluctant) way. That’s pretty much love served up in all its glory. It’s not about Romeo and Juliet dying for love. It’s about Romeo and Juliet surviving each other for love, all sprinkled with a few moments of joy (when no one has to do laundry).