‘Romance’ originally implied something extravagant & usually of a fantastical (so unrealistic) nature. To romanticise something does mean to make it seem better than it really is. An illusion but what’s wrong with an illusion when you know it’s one? It’s just a game, a movie, a party trick that entertains & enlivens.
Whatever creates for you that otherworldy feeling of pleasure, is romantic, I suppose. For some people that’s being waited on hand & foot. Maybe that means being pursued in absolute desperation because having that kind of power over another can feel good. What we want, does come from very deep parts of ourselves, after all.
For others, it’s the absolute freedom of flight but without its dangers (so a companion who encourages your wings). For me, it’s the spice of ideas & words tumbling over each other like playful cubs. Maybe I’ve just not been able to find it in intimate relationships because I’ve looked for it in people who think I’m spoiling for a fight. Mismatched expectations, that’s all.
Romance is always about dignity. The dignity you accord yourself as deserving of pleasure. And if this includes another person, the dignity they show you by acknowledging who you are, with respect. The trouble with ‘problematic’ stories is that they present romantic gestures without this basic dignity.
My friend Sonali once told me that it’s possible to experience romance even when one is alone. I’ve pondered that often. It certainly fits the original definition of romance when you rid it of the assumption that you need someone else to create that luxuriant, pleasant feeling for yourself. Romance is a taste for feeling good. And for some, it’s an acquired taste, a hero’s journey into seeking treasure & finding them finally in our own selves.
This is part of a series called #ARomanticLife exploring our ideas of romance, its media depictions and how they impact our lives. There are also posts over at my other blog XX Factor and two Live conversations (Rajni Arunkumar, TJ Coulagi)