Saturday, March 10, 2012

Is Romance Dead?

I realize that I've started with a rather morbid title... but it's something I've been thinking about a lot lately. I wonder sometimes what relationships are coming to these days... especially with the romantic comedies people churn out.

I just finished watching One Day with Jim Sturgess and Anne Hathaway in it. I was all ready for a nice love story and a happily ever after. It was a wonderful love story. They are friends for years, and never give in to loving each other until they are much older. Then (and sorry to ruin this for anyone who hasn't seen it)... THEY GO AND KILL HER OFF. I get SO frustrated by that. Someone said "that's real life." I don't watch romantic movies to see real life. I watch them to see beauty and romance. I don't want the lovers to be separated by death because it's just so hopeless. I think this is just my present mood, because I've nodded approvingly at "realistic" love movies before.

That brings me to my second point: I say that I watch romantic movies because I like happily ever afters and running after each other at the last minute in the rain, etc. But of course part of me can't help but wish things that happen in movies could happen in real life. The romantic gestures and words and speeches and heart-stopping moments. I know I'm still young... but it certainly seems like they just don't. That's not to say I don't believe in love. Love is an integral part of all our lives. But love isn't easy and free and effortless... it's bloody hard work. It's exhausting and painful and wonderful and sad. It's like facing your greatest fear (which, for me, is like walking a tight rope forty feet off the ground). You don't know what's going to happen--if the person you love is going to handle your love properly or if they're going to let you fall. But it happens in life, humans can't help it. But those intense, passion-filled moments that they like to emphasize in movies? Those don't happen--or at least they don't happen gracefully--in "real life." Who really can think of the perfect monologue in those intense moments in life? You're readily able to think of all the right things to say when you're in bed later that night going over it and over it in your mind. I don't know about anybody else, but my mind can't think cleverly in "important" moments. I wasn't even able to handle my first kiss (or my second and third, for that matter) very well. I just looked surprised and he ran away.

It seems like the passion you feel when you first get the love of your life for yourself (I'm hypothesizing here) doesn't last forever. It seems like there might not even be a defining moment when you find the person you're going to spend the rest of your life with. Maybe in your heart, but it's not some kind of breathless, loving-gaze-ing, sound-the-orchestra moment. You don't turn to someone one day and say "I love you, [insert name here], I'll be yours forever" in a dramatic voice. On a positive note, here is how I see love: it's a long, winding road. It's not a moment that lasts forever, it's several moments. It's every moment. And sometimes there will be times where you can remember why you love someone and sometimes there will be difficult times where you might forget, and sometimes you have to start loving someone for a different reason than you started out. But there is a willingness in two people's hearts to keep working through the muddy patches, and each other's growth, if it's the right two people. Now I know some people might think I'm being too romantic even about this, but that's how I see it.

This is kind of an awkward subject when you get down to it. I can say, "I hope some day I'll find someone to share that with" or "I'm just glad I've got a few years yet before I have to any of that." Either way it sounds silly and I'm really not sure which one is true. But what I would like to point out, is that I'm sure romantic gestures would be incredibly awkward in real life and that romance isn't what makes love. Love is more than wooing. Life doesn't work with romance, at least not all the time.

That brings me to how I feel about relationships. In days of yore, according to my mom, people did this crazy thing called dating. Going on a date with someone didn't mean you had to be in a relationship with them. You actually saw different people to see if you liked them. You certainly didn't jump into things like people do now. These days, everything is rushed. There's no more holding out. I feel like the more you drag something out, the better it is when you finally get it. There's "no time" for that these days, I guess. People don't have the patience, maybe. But I've learned that I need time to decide, and I won't rush. If whoever I'm seeing wants to rush things and doesn't want to wait for me to feel ready to be in a relationship... then it's not right. These days I'm usually pretty good at telling from the start whether I like someone or not. Sometimes I worry though, if it will always be me saying "nope, he's not right, forget it." I worry if I'm too picky, because sometimes "he's" not right for very minor reasons. I just don't want to pull someone in because I'm ignoring my instincts, let them believe everything is going well, and then be hurt when I decide to actually listen to myself. I'm learning to listen to myself in the first place. It's not worth other people's feelings to be indecisive.

I hope I haven't been too cynical. It's just another one of those things I'm always trying to work out in my mind. Maybe I'd do better to leave it alone and let it be. I think I'll rent an old classic love story next so I can get my "happily ever after" fix. The oldies know how to do it right.

Your friendly neighbourhood



  1. Ohhh you are SOOO right about love being messy. Our culture defines love as a feeling, but it's not. It's a choice, an action. I DO NOT always feel like I love my husband. Sometimes he drives me crazy and I wonder what on earth I was thinking. But I chose him, so I can choose to keep loving him even when I don't feel all mushy and romantic. Sometimes when he's really getting under my skin I choose to reach out and give him a hug and remind myself that I'm not a slave to my feelings.
    What irks me the most about movies is this idea that we have no choice in the matter - that "true love" exists and it only happens once, and when you meet the person that you're "supposed" to be with and the orchestra plays you either have to be with them or be miserable for the rest of your life. Nope. Not true.
    I think true love means finding someone you can share life with - someone who shares (most) of your beliefs and ideals and who you get along with, are attracted to and can be best friends with, and then digging in and committing to that person and working on your relationship for the rest of your lives. Not throwing in the towel as soon as feelings change or life isn't romantic anymore, but working through the rough spots and coming out the other side with a love that's stronger than it was before.
    Now THAT'S romantic :)
    Thanks for the inspiring post Erin!

  2. I'm glad you pointed out how movies try to tell you "you can only love once, etc"... that's what I felt most confused about when my first love dumped me. I felt like I would never love again and he would be the only person I could ever possibly have... I haven't fallen in love again yet, but I know that it's not the case that I never will. Watching 500 Days of Summer (a movie where I approved of the "unconventional" ending) really helped me realize that (NOT that I'm basing real life relationships off relationships in movies!!), but also because of my own working through of my thoughts and the absolute necessity for me to GET OVER IT. I really like hearing your real life take on real life love and committing to each other in the ways you listed above. Thanks for your reply!