This past Friday was Valentine’s Day so it seems only fitting that I write my thoughts about romance. I am not a romantic in the traditional sense. I don’t like mushy, cliche, traditional displays of affection. I don’t like romantic movies, books, songs… Ok. That’s not 100% true. There are some really funny chick flicks and some really beautiful love songs (Just the Way You Are, Longer Than just to name a couple…). I don’t mind romance in someone else’s life. If traditional romance is your thing, then good for you. And I mean that seriously. I’m glad for you. If you like red roses, chocolate, and a candlelit dinner on Valentine’s Day, your birthday, and anniversary, then awesome! I’m glad that you have that and/or want that in your life. Someone has to, right? Or we wouldn’t have all of that in the movies. But I don’t want traditional romance in mine. Let me tell you why.
**disclaimer** this post is meant to be lighthearted…so don’t take offense if any of these describe something that sounds like something you’d love… We are all different and that’s a good thing. I just get tired of people assuming that all women love roses, chocolate, sappy movies…you know…like Beauty and the Beast…”flowers, chocolates…promises you don’t intend to keep…”
1. Traditional romance makes me feel indebted. I have always felt this way. One-on-one dates always made me uncomfortable and I always insisted on paying for my own meal, movie ticket, coffee..etc. Is this a fair thought? Probably not. But it is most certainly how I feel. I don’t like feeling like I owe anyone anything. I remember going on a date with a guy whom I worked with in early high school. We went mini-golfing. We made a bet at the beginning of the date that the loser owed the winner $10. It was fun and lighthearted and made the date a little bit less awkward by adding in a bit of competition. I was doing great until the last few holes and, of course, he wouldn’t accept my $10 when I lost. I thought that was the gentlemanly thing to do even though I was completely prepared to fork over the cash. It was a bet, after all, and I lost fair and square. When he dropped me off he walked me to the door and asked for a kiss in exchange for the $10 I owed him. Seriously? Gag me. Dude. I was 16 years old and prepared to give you my money. That was it. I owed you 10 bucks. Not a kiss. Weirdo. Now, you may say that it wasn’t a traditionally romantic date…but it’s all the same to me. You buy me roses…I owe you a kiss. You buy me lobster? Gosh…what might I owe you after that? I never wanted anyone to come asking for what I “owed” them…so I liked to keep it simple. I pay my way. You pay your way. No one feels required to make this work, go on a second date, or give anything in return. Plain and simple. (To answer Josh’s question, no…I’m not friends with this guy on Facebook or otherwise. He was fired and I never heard from him again…only further proving my point.)
2. Traditional romance clouds your judgement. When I watch chick flicks with romantic scenes with two people on a first or second date I can’t help but think, “ugh! You’re so being manipulated right now.” Romantic gestures can get you caught up in the moment. You feel so connected, so appreciated, so loved…and you stop thinking clearly. Suddenly you toss aside logic and let yourself just go with the flow. Giving into romance makes me feel foolish. Again…this may not be true for everyone. I know a lot of women who love romance and have romantic husbands and they love getting into the whole romantic thing together. I’m glad for them. That’s how they connect. But I cannot get myself into it. I cannot get past feeling so stupid. It’s funny because I can totally appreciate when my friends express joy over a romantic date with their husbands and I genuinely think it is sweet that they share that…it just isn’t for me. I wish I had some personal story worth telling to demonstrate my point…but let me just say that I am sure many lives have been changed forever due to one really romantic date with a guy who never calls you back. I haven’t had that happen personally…but I’ve heard plenty of stories on both sides of that and have never wanted to take part… Consider the Twilight movies, for example. The two main characters have lots of really strange encounters. He takes her running through the forest and shows is shiny body to her in the woods. They look into each other’s eyes and he talks about how she is made for him blah blah blah…and she totally just throws away logic and reasoning, gives up her entire life (literally) to be with and become a vampire? Come. On. While I don’t anticipate this exact situation occurring in real life, there are plenty of similarities to actual situations. The guy may be dangerous, but he says loves me and buys me flowers…so I’m ok. No thanks. I’ll keep to my boring, pessimistic, head-on-straight ways of thinking…
3. Traditional romance seems like a formula. I think the movies provide guys at an early age with all the right things to say and do to get in good with a girl. Buy her flowers. Write notes to her. Slow dance and look her in the eyes and say some sappy little phrase and she will kiss you (yuck)…and you’re set. Seriously, any kind of sweet or romantic thing a guy has ever done for me usually results in laughter. I find it so awkward. I want to ask, “now…which movie gave you that idea?” Saying it out loud (or typing it out loud…??) makes it sound way meaner than I intend. I’m not saying a guy doesn’t have to go out on a limb to offer a girl a dozen roses on Valentine’s Day or something. Sure. Some guys do. And some girls love it. But it isn’t really that creative. It isn’t always personal. Again..some girls love it and if you’re one of those girls, then good. But we don’t all fit into that mold. I have to laugh because I have a dad who warned me about teenage boys when I was young. I was warned that they’d say or do anything to get what they want. So when a guy in high school romantically told me he had a dream that he had proposed to me (in many more words) I literally laughed and shook my head. I was pretty adamant about abstinence so when the same guy asked, “so when do you think God thinks you’re married?” I laughed. (And he had many more fun phrases and questions…persistent little fella…and if you went to school with me, before you think you know who it was, you probably don’t…). I didn’t find it cute. I didn’t find it romantic. I saw it just as my dad had warned me about…they’ll say anything to get what they want. Sorry… Sweet look + sincere voice + sappy words = eye roll from this gal… I’m not a performing monkey. I don’t do tricks because you gave me a treat. And every kiss totally does not begin with Kay… (but really, whoever thought of that little jingle was a genius…they’ve gotten great mileage out of that phrase! Now the “he totally went to Jared” commercials…yeah…you need to think of something else… )
In conclusion, I’m so glad I married Josh. Josh is a romantic thru and thru. He would love nothing more than a romantic candlelit dinner, holding hands, kissing…(I’m feeling nauseated just typing that…) He has definitely said and done some things that have made me laugh and shake my head. He has given me a glimpse into the heart of a sincere and romantic man. And he has learned and accepted that romance isn’t a formula. For me, romance is totally different. When we were dating he took a spontaneous trip across the country over Valentine’s Day weekend to visit me. It was not like him to skip class and spend hundreds of dollars on a whim. We spent the weekend watching movies, hanging out with friends, and sledding. Playing games, hanging out with friends, helping with the kids so I can get some rest, take a shower or be with my friends, getting Chick-Fil-A and watching Harry Potter, X-Men, or The Hunger Games, going to a baseball or hockey game, or doing something completely unexpected…And asking for nothing in return makes me feel loved. Unfortunately, my kind of romance comes with a bit of a learning curve. It has probably been 6 years of learning for Josh but I appreciate that he takes the time to figure me out.
So, I have to give a shout out to all the ladies out there who don’t fit into the typical style of romance. If you’re not married, then don’t settle. Be yourself. If the flowers, chocolate…etc isn’t your thing, that’s ok. It doesn’t have to be. If you’re married to a romantic, help him figure you out. Give him some pointers. If you’re as lucky as I am to be married to someone who genuinely wants to make you happy, he will gladly hear you out! There are definitely times when I have to sacrifice my “comfort” and allow Josh to be romantic in his own way…a great compromise has been flowers on any day other than my birthday, anniversary, or Valentines Day…I love flowers! Just not on predictable days…letting me know you were thinking about me so you bought me flowers is sweet. It’s a win-win! Happy non-traditional-Valentine’s Day lovin’ friends!