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Romance wanted: dead or alive

June 9th, 2004 · 2 Comments

Shelley Powers also likes pretty dresses and Romance…and she wondered what has happened to those moments of whirling and whispering…

Is romance dead? …I’m talking about moonlight and roses, dancing until dawn, looking dreamily into each others eyes. Romance. Capital ‘R’.


Did we lose Romance when we burned our bras and marched for equal rights for women? Did we as women slap one too many men when they moved to open the door for us, creating whole generations of men who are hesitant to display anything even remotely resembling a gesture that can be construed as sexist?


We’ve progressed in our relationships to becoming good friends, exchanging and sharing thoughts on any and all topics. I think this is great – but there’s this little secret part of me that longs for the beautiful dress and being whirled around the room, the offered bloom, the look, the gentle whisper light touch.

I’m not sure how we lost Romance, but I know, as Emily Pollard described – in reference to the NYT article about teenage hookups – that we’ve become mechanical as a culture.

It never ceases to amaze me the parallel between the increasingly routinized, assembly-line nature of modern corporate culture and people’s increasingly “mechanical” handling of personal interactions and their emotions

In our overwhelmed overdosed world, who has time to get involved with someone else’s psyche or emotional needs? Who has time for poetry and pretty? Relationship becomes routine. A job to do, identity to fulfill. Do duties and check the boxes. Forget the beautiful dress, flowers and whispers. Forget the frills. Get to the point. Get the job done. Who has time to waste?

I think Shelley made another good observation asking whether it is we women who have turned off the Romance faucet. I wonder whether we have thrown out the baby with the bath water, by asking men to treat us in certain ways, but then losing some of our femininity in the process. I think we may havesent men mixed messages as a culture through the past few decades. Treat me like a man in the office. But like a woman on the dance floor.

We women have refused Romance when it was given to us. I know I have. We’ve kept the beautiful dresses in the closet and put on suits instead. For years I resisted anything pink or lace, anything flowery, anything feminine.

We’re a culture without class or etiquette. Romance requires both. In Romance we choose to respect the rules. We are “ladies” and “gentlemen” – “old-fashioned” terms in this “you-guys” age, but the words represent a gentleness and consideration lacking in our me-first America.

Although I don’t believe in being polite in a robotic way or clinging to things of the past, I do think that grace and kindness conveyed with gestures and words are enchanting, creating a spell of their own, a mesmerizing that can help lead to love. Communication often comes through what is unsaid, a look, a caress, a gesture, a gift, a moment in moonlight. It is selflessness. It is recognized signals. Opening the door can open the heart. Romance, with its courtesy, creates the conditions for Love to grow.

Romance requires restraint and respect. It is mystery and mystique. Like a fire, it takes work to keep it alive, constant stoking and care. Romance is rare.

In our fast food world, romance takes too much time. If I can’t have it in an instant, I don’t want it. I want it my way. And I want it now.

Wooing someone however means discovering her ways – or his ways. Learning how to listen, how to love, how to take the time and enjoy each other, little ways of lingering. Knowing those special words to whisper, what kind of bloom to buy her, how he likes his hand held when you’re strolling beneath the moonlight.

I don’t know whether it can be said that Romance is dead. Perhaps it seems that way looking at our culture as a whole, what is valued on TV and magazines.

But I believe Romance is innate. Passion is part of who we are. We want it. We need it. We will always crave it. Create it. It will stay alive, if not in our machine-centered society, then in little pockets of rebellious romance, here and there, fanned into flame by those willing to pay the price for the fire.

Romance can be alive or dead. To keep it alive takes work. But even if it is dead, Romance can be resurrected.

Tags: marriage

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Katherine // Jun 9, 2004 at 9:13 am

    Nice post, Julie. I’m all for romance and chivalry. And long-term commitment in trust and kept promises.

  • 2 emily // Jun 10, 2004 at 1:22 pm

    Well-written and thought-provoking. I can’t find the link at the moment of an article K.O.(remember him from IVCF?) forwarded to us about courtship and marriage. It was excellent reading about customs and institutions (including romance) dying. The author’s name, Leon Kass. Three friends, 20 yrs. old and younger, took one look at the article’s title, looked puzzled and asked us, what does courtship mean? In all sincerity, they had no clue. Where will this end? Hopefully not in death, but in resurrection, as you mentioned in your post!