I am perhaps in the minority of men who actually enjoy a good romantic comedy. While a full on romance movie is dull as ditch water in my eyes, the romantic comedy allows for some entertainment and laughs amongst the romantic elements. And I enjoy the romance too. It's touching, it's optimistic, it appeals to the dreamer in me.
But here's the thing. It has nothing to do with love.
What's Love Got To Do With It?
Love is frequently hard work. Sometimes it's not even fun. It's often about doing what needs to be done for other people and sometimes about compromising on what you need. Romance is epic and sweeping. Love is mundane.
This is not exactly a secret. There are approximately five billion words per day written on the subject of re-introducing romance into your relationship. Because romance is the bit with all the excitement and thrills. And lets face it we'd all like a bit more of that in our lives. Real life is just so... well... real.
But romance is also shallow. It has no depth and commitment to it. It doesn't require much risk. Some flowers an exciting location, the right words. This is stuff that can be learned and repeated as rote. It frequently is. There are several billion words dedicated to that too every day.
Love is where the real danger lies. With love you open yourself up to real pain. You leave yourself vulnerable to another person and trust that they will protect you.
I want my sun-drenched, wind-
swept Ingrid Bergman kiss
Hollywood sells romance as does the publishing industry. They offer the exciting, swept off your feet love lite. Men say dramatic heart felt things and the people watching melt.
Part of all of us wants it to be like that. To be that easy. To be that special and thrilling. And hopefully there are moments in all of our lives that reach that high. But none of us lives it daily and none of us could.
Romance is perhaps the most insidious form of fantasy not because it's escapism, but because it is presented so pervasively and with such consistency that it's easy to start believing that it's normal and it's what everyone else is experiencing all the time. They're not. Not all the time at least.
Romance is the Sports Highlight Reel. It looks really impressive but it doesn't show you all the hard work that went on before and after.
Don't Let Romance Devalue Love
I've had more than one discussion with my wife where she gushes over the words some fictional hunk spouts to his paramour. They make her all mushy inside apparently. But the thing is, those words are just that.... words. And they don't really mean anything unless they are backed by actions.
Words are easy. Look how many I have casually splattered on the screen for this blog post. The ease with which they can be applied shows how little they are really worth.
It's romantic to buy your wife flowers and take her to a fancy restaurant. It's romantic to tell her that you love her. And the point of this post is not to demean romance. It is something that all relationships need. Rather I want to emphasize the importance of love. Romance can be faked. Love can't.
Because love is helping your partner to bathe themselves because they are injured and cannot themselves. Love is going to work day after day to a job you don't like because you want to give your family the best life you can. Love is going to kids birthday parties, spending time with distant relatives of in-laws. Love is finding your way through anger, or jealousy or resentment or distrust because you want to make things work.
Love is tedious and repetitive and sometimes unpleasant. You don't see love in movies because it's boring to watch.
Which is really the greater statement of love?
Making a speech declaring that you can't live in this world without your partner.
Simply being there day after day. No matter what.