Is the flame of romance still flickering?

Romance is a delightful thing.  Everybody loves The Notebook.  Everybody loves When Harry met Sally.  Everybody loves Raymond.  I just wanted to italic a whole sentence to confuse you dear readers.  It was enjoyable while it lasted.  I apologise for such a misleading italicised sentence.  Is that proper English?  The sentence was slightly romantic so I’m going to leave it there for analysis.  Back on topic, the idea of a romantic rendezvous still burns bright in this boy’s heart but I am yet to find a situation where the romance has fulfilled my expectations. I’ve had some great nights where I’ve spoken to the one girl and we’ve kissed passionately and I felt like my life had peaked.  And then the reality sets in and it is hard work.  Should romance die if it is hard work?  You know, having to cook, having to find new and exciting activities for you to participate together, having fights about nothing. Or is that just part of it?

So beautiful it makes me sick.
So beautiful it makes me sick.

I mean, we cannot leave all the romance to the soldiers who return from years on active duty returning to their wives or the Ryan Goslings of the world who have the ungodly good looks and are charming enough to sweep half the women in a particular bar off their feet for their own sick pleasure… sick, sick men.  I know a number of my friends who commit to romantic acts occasionally. Taking their man/woman out for a lovely dinner and staying overnight at a classy hotel for a bottle of champagne, a relaxing bath and a few choice rewards is one of those particular examples. But yet, in this day and age, our acts are all skimmed for landmines that indicate a selfish motivation rather than one that is both selfless and deliciously romantic.  Sure, we all need a little TLC from time to time but is getting something out of it for ourselves really a sign that it isn’t a romantic gesture but rather an entirely selfish one?

Big Russian romance
Big Russian romance

We grew up reading those impossible love stories.  Romeo and Juliet, Dr. Zhivago, Pride and Prejudice, The Outlander and The Bride.  All classic romantic tales, beautifully written by their respective authors.  Surely it still exists!?!  Continually we are told of men and women who go above and beyond for their partner.  Beautiful marriage proposals, the first waltz and the whole ”til death do us part’ mantra all reflect a great tradition of romance within our society.  But there aren’t many who can sustain such a romantic presence throughout their lives.  It’s a bunch of flowers from time to time, it’s terming a song you both find touching as ‘your song’, it’s missing each other when the other is away.  Now, I’m not saying this isn’t enough.  I’m just saying that the implausibility of Hollywood romance has left these standards that are so insurmountable that nothing seems enough anymore.  One big romantic act is seen as too rehearsed, too focused on the prize rather than viewed as an amazing outburst of how much love one has for another being.

I like to snuggle my dog for warmth and I take that as the most romantic thing I have done for years.  When I was a teenager still in school I wrote poetry and stories for girls, even cried in front of a girl because I was so hopelessly muddled.  And I fell in love so easily.  So easily I became this selfless romantic that I began to just think of myself as weak and insecure and had to strengthen myself to not allow myself to get hurt.  I’m not sure if it was this or that internal cynicism that has broken my romantic spirit as I push it further back into my guts.  And yet, it is still there and I know full well it is.  But I don’t want to release it at any old stage because if I started letting it dribble out slowly, I would overuse it to the point of making it worthless.

And it is this very idea that I present as my major argument in the dying role romance has in our lives.  Over saturation has made us cynical and less certain of romance and the fire in our belly that exists even in the coldest of beings.  We are no longer the romantic idealists with valiant courting procedures but more efficient beings who require more structure than waiting on someone for years and years to decide whether they want us or need us or more devastatingly, go on without us.  Maybe the romantic idealist never existed and it is just a fiction that has never stopped us from our animalistic desires of pleasure over promise.  The choices we have now were much less obvious without the aid of the internet, television and film.  We didn’t know there were Asian women who wanted to please us on pornography sites (I’m still not sure if they exist but I’m sure many thirsty men have taken the plunge.) We didn’t know there could have been closer matches in terms of a partner on foreign soil.  And it is arguable that the ignorance would have left many in marital bliss.  Now sex is thrown at us implicitly and painfully explicitly.  Censorship has become useless in helping us avoid bumping into naked pictures on Google, billboards featuring exceptionally seductive men and women and photoshopped pictures of perfect people who quite possibly could have a fetish for the average… in one’s deepest fantasty.

We have placed sex on a pedestal without thinking about the effect it has on that beautiful notion of romance.  In place of romance are plagiarised poems, contrived speeches and drunken nights to spice up a relationship.  From time to time you come up across an original love story that draws people into the thoughts of going beyond a bottle of champagne and a drunken furore in the bedroom.  Something that makes you think of eternal love and holding hands in the park.  I am not saying that the former option is not a splendid way to spend a night, quite the opposite, I’m just saying that it has become the standard option rather than going to an effort to impress, to surprise.  The following article might anger some men but it does present an argument for an alternative ending to a romantic night other than a little bit of crash and bash in the bedroom.

“In my experience of talking to audiences around the world, I have not yet run into anyone who says they don’t mind having sex dangled as a carrot for good behavior.”

Yes, we all love sex.  Sex is great, sex can be completely and utterly beautiful but sex and romance are not as intrinsically linked as some people would lead you to believe.  If we do want to speak about things that are intrinsically linked, we should talk about our generation and narcissism.  We maintain the markets, we control our destiny, we are alone in this battle of life.  These messages have unfortunately led to a society is more set on their own objectives rather than achieving them as a collective group.  Of course, that doesn’t mean that we should team together as a group of 2 million and all earn lots of money that we share.  Rather, it would be an easier world to achieve our collective goals if we listened more to each other, criticised less; allowed the mass media to place people on pedestals less, made everyone prove themselves minus the cynicism more.  Alright, this is more idealism on my behalf.  Rational human beings would suggest that we have given too much power to the media and parliament to wrestle back our own ability to shake the political landscape back in the favour of the people to restore our humanity.

Anyway, back on topic.  It is this new market, the global market that is one of the causes for the death of romanticism.  We have more money, more goals, more desires which leads us to more wants and an emptiness when that want or desire is not fulfilled.  I am not suggesting that we shouldn’t strive for greater things but has the reason to strive become obsolete?  Are we simply striving to distract ourselves from our dreams as a child or are they just unachievable?  Maybe I am the naive one to not place enough emphasis on money.  That is probably a good enough reason to strive for something in most people’s book.  And yet, just doing a job or just being with a person for convenience or for security is the death of romance.  For romance only comes from striving for a reason.  And that reason is someone else.

Reason. Thinking ’bout you. Irrationality?

So perhaps the moral of the story is to forget what you have been told and find a reason.  If you can’t find a reason then you will probably find yourself struggling to spark any sort of spontaneous and remarkable romantic energy.  And that’s kind of disheartening.  Legitimate romance, if it does exist at all, is probably the most inspiring concept that we as humans alone have conjured over our long history.  I mean, occasionally we see two cats licking each other or a rabbit orgy and conceive the idea that they are just in it for the love but it’s only real in our eyes because we were the ones who invented romance.  It would be a ridiculously outrageous notion to suggest that neanderthals or the missing links were the ones who came up with the idea of a candlelit hog on a spit or a glass of bubbly in the hot springs but perhaps there was a Gosanderthal amongst them spouting lines like

“I am nothing special, of this I am sure. I am a common man with common thoughts and I’ve led a common life. There are no monuments dedicated to me and my name will soon be forgotten, but I’ve loved another with all my heart and soul, and to me, this has always been enough..”

Or maybe romance is just a great big lie we invented to make ourselves feel better about short term flings.  And when the curtain goes down, everyone falls out of character and we just do what we do best.  Get drunk, make love and wish it never happened the next day.

… I still believe it is more than that.  It just isn’t meant to be easy.


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