Romance. If you’ve experienced it, you know how wonderful it can be. Regular doses of romance can energize a relationship and strengthen the physical and emotional bond with our partner. But when romance fizzles, we find ourselves wondering if our relationship is fading away with it. Cue ruminating on blame and shame - not a promising mood for sparking romance.
It's not just a few of us who experience romance blah-ism. Life realities have a way of resetting our priorities where romance often finds itself on the bottom shelf. And then there's our WFH lifestyle... has it disrupted romance? Or has our streaming obsession created voyeur-culture, satiating our desire for real life romance? My answers, yes and yes. But hang on because there's good news -- what we know we can change. So let's take a look at romance and set our sights on a higher shelf.
Romance is often associated with the early-on, courting phase of relationships. It’s the time when we pull out all the stops to woo and to seduce. It can feel magical and intoxicating to be the recipient of a romantic suitor.
The whole idea of romance – and the word itself – goes back to the Middle Ages when knights were known to perform over-the-top acts of chivalry to impress their love interests. To this day, we associate romance with extravagant gestures. But what is modern day romance exactly? Is there a way to describe it in words? Yes there is, according to Carla Marie Manly, Ph.D. She’s a clinical psychologist who explains it this way, “Being romantic involves creating a sense of passion, anticipation, and excitement within a relationship.” She adds that a romantic partner needs to be “attentive, thoughtful, willing, creative and considerate of [their] partner’s secret (and not so secret) longings.”
It makes sense that keeping romance alive in a relationship has no downside. Among other things, it’s the spark that can ignite the sexual flame between two people – and keep it ignited. But who has the time and energy for romance over the long haul? Isn’t that what Valentine’s Day and anniversaries are for? Yes, but romance is not only about the big gestures or the amount of money you spend on your beloved a couple of times per year. Romance is every day and it’s also about the simple things, like a sweet whisper or a note placed somewhere unexpected or slow dancing in the kitchen or any number of a gazillion things that remind two people why they’re a couple in the first place.
Is romance a two-way street? Yes, there have been studies and polls that prove it, but I’m not so sure that they’re needed to explain that everyone, regardless of gender, wants to feel special and loved. And who doesn’t want to be reminded that they’re the #1 object of their partner’s desire?
When you think about it, romance is being tuned into your partner – their likes, dislikes and fantasies. It’s being thoughtful, affectionate and dedicated to each other and to keeping the passion alive. But romance reaches beyond the sexual realm. It's the essence of a relationship and without it, things can become stagnant and mundane.
Here are some more words of wisdom from Dr. Manly:
"A true romantic partner tends to 'date' [their] significant other throughout the relationship rather than devoting romantic energy to only one or two hallmark dates per month or year," she explains. "Being a true romantic is a way of life."
The truth is, we don't all come by romantic tendencies naturally. So, if the thought of kicking up the romance in your life has you wondering where to start, you are not alone. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
- Say “I love you” often
- Send a love letter
- Broaden your foreplay repertoire
- Flirt with your partner
- Remember dates that are important to your partner
- Serve your partner breakfast in bed
- Give compliments freely
- Watch romantic movies together
- Make date night special with candles, music and favorite meals
- Be a good listener
- Go for a walk
- Go dancing
- Cut out paper hearts and write something that you love about your partner on each one
- Cook together
- Choose your couple song together
- Read something sexy together
- Give your partner a massage and/or foot rub
- Surprise your partner with little, thoughtful gifts
- Help with chores to free up time to spend together
- Hold hands in public
Relationships don’t endure magically. They must be cultivated thoughtfully in order to flourish. Romance is vital and, fortunately, there are an infinite number of ways to express it. Here’s a source, if you would like more ideas about how to turn up the volume on romance in your relationship. I believe you'll find that the result will be well worth the effort.