I USED TO THINK IT WAS REALLY COOL TO BE ROMANTIC — or, should I say, “A Romantic”. After all, isn’t that what poets, or artists of any kind, are supposed to be? However, the older I’ve become and, maybe, also the wiser I’ve become, I’ve realised just how superficial all that romantic stuff really is. In fact, I came to realise that it is actually a cheap counterfeit of something which goes infinitely deeper — namely, Love. Romance has come to play such a huge part in affairs of the human heart for a number of reasons: Inadequate parenting or abuse as a child; inability to face up to the harsh reality of life in this dimension on earth; a failure to transition healthily from child to adult; superficiality and narcissism; and plain old wishful thinking. All of these aspects have — during the last century or so — been avidly exploited by Hollywood movies and Mills and Boon novels (currently 18,000 of them!).
So here are my reasons for abandoning romance in favour of what it counterfeits so insidiously:
1) Romance doesn’t last. It makes promises it cannot keep. “I’ll be yours forever”. “I’ll never leave you”. “I can’t live without you”. Bla-bla-bla. Romance lives in its own finite bubble of false promises, fraudulent statements and June-Moon-Spoon corny rhymes. People go into a romance imagining it will last forever, despite all the evidence of history that it doesn’t and never can. Only genuine love has the balls to be life-lasting. Romance is a brief fart from the bowels of human desperation!
2) Romance is the product of hormonal secretions. So easily do we fall for schmaltz and mawkish sentimentality that we ignore completely the role played by hormones in the world of Romance, whether men or women. Androgens and hypothalamic activity play the greatest part in “crushes” and romantic delusions, filling us with desires and feelings we imagine to be real. Many scientific studies have shown that the brain activity of those caught up in romantic experiences is very similar to that of those who are high on cocaine and similar drugs. Hormones such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin are the real kick-starters to romantic love. We’re like little robots being chemically-controlled by our hormone production. That is why so many become so addicted to romantic activity. Hopeless Romance junkies. 😊
3) Romance is rooted in childhood unfulfilments. Many people never really mature beyond a childishly naive mindset and subsequently spend their adulthood with a little voice inside them which assuages them with false hopes, such as: “Someday, my Prince will come” (woman version) or “My pixie dream girl is just around the corner” (man version). Having very often been unloved, mistreated or abused by parents and other significant figures in childhood, many enter adulthood in a foggy, fluffy, crippled state of mind which makes them very susceptible to the cheap thrill of romance, in the futile search to have their childhood deprivations made up for by their romantic experience. In a man’s case, he is continually trying to woo women with eye contact, flirtations, corny communications and cheap compliments; whereas in a woman’s case, she becomes extremely vulnerable to the romantic advances of immature, undeveloped, maladjusted and even psychopathic males. A real grown-up man doesn’t merely “romance” a woman; he loves her and cherishes her and makes her feel secure enough in a dangerous world to pursue her dreams without inhibition. Loving a woman involves discovering her true heart, listening to what she really needs and then sensitively and unobtrusively providing it. To be showering a woman with gifts, flowers, texts, phone calls and continually whispering “sweet nothings” in her ear is downright intrusive and more a sign of personal insecurity than a caring heart. A real man impresses a woman with his deeds, not with a “romantic” display of his unfulfilled needs!
4) Romance is based on emotionalism rather than on genuine emotion.
Healthy emotions are a wonderful thing to experience when they are flowing from a free heart. There is nothing wrong with experiencing emotions or even with being emotional. But emotionalism is something altogether different. Emotionalism is not the mere exercise of emotion; it is the subjugation of reason to unfettered irrationalism. This is not confined to romantic experience alone, but is endemic in our culture today. Reality TV shows, many TV programmes, Oprah Winfrey style shows and most Hollywood films rely on a crass form of emotionalism — the manipulation of emotions — to draw in their audiences. One sees in those reality competitions contestants clinging to each other and so often weeping over nothing of any importance, then forming romantic alliances which last five minutes. So many no longer know how to express genuine emotion. Their emotions become inappropriate and morph into emotionalism. Romantic feelings come about as a part of that emotionalism, in which each party falls for an illusion based on their unfulfilled needs, which they then project onto the other. In this sense, Romance is not a genuine experience, but a projection based on dysfunctional emotions.
5) Romance doesn’t bind or sustain. That’s the problem with romance. It doesn’t bind two people together, other than through shared superficial experience (e.g. a sunset, posy of flowers or soppy song). Neither does it sustain a relationship. Sustenance (the noun from the verb sustain) means nourishment. Romance doesn’t nourish, except in a frivolous, shallow, one-dimensional sense. Romance doesn’t last very long at all, but it quickly fades, as has been demonstrated billions upon billions of times on this planet. Romance is essentially dishonest because it makes people vow to each other (e.g. “I am yours forever”), when nothing could be further from the truth! Romance is merely the froth which rises to the surface in the relationship universe these days. But it is not enough to sustain a real living relationship. A desire for romantic involvement is therefore not so much an indication of emotional health but more a sign of internal brokenness, unfulfillment and neediness.
Those are a few of the reasons that I cannot buy into Romance anymore. It is no coincidence that Romance is used by psychopaths in order to gain entry into vulnerable women’s hearts. Psychopaths are incapable of love, but they can do romance (which is the counterfeit of love) very well. Psychopaths are excellent at “love-bombing” ladies; only it’s never the depths of true love with which they bomb them but with the counterfeit of romance. For a variety of psychological reasons, as discussed above, there is an element in many women which craves the illusion of Romance rather than the reality of Love. Love involves commitment and the giving of oneself, whereas Romance is primarily narcissistic and wallows in the quagmire of superficial flattery and google-eyed adulation: “Your eyes are like limpid pools of pure delight”. “You are my everything”. “I only have eyes for you”. Thus, many women — desperate for external validation and confirmation — will fall for such nonsense from the mouth of a man. When one is vulnerable and insecure (a state which often fosters narcissism), any attention of a seemingly romantic kind will be welcomed. Maybe in her desiccated mind she thinks she wants such attention; but it is not truly what she needs.
I value Love infinitely more than romance. I have no interest whatsoever in romance. Only love could ever conquer my heart (should the opportunity ever arise and if I was not living in my monkish hermit-bubble). This does not mean that I would never give a woman a bouquet of flowers, practice chivalry or create candlelit dinners, and so on. For infinite true love can also involve things which people may confuse with Romance. But those are merely superficial elements which Romance has surreptitiously stolen from true Love. So why bother with just the Romance when it is so false, inadequate and tainted? It is far better for a woman to be completely “seduced” as a result of genuinely deep exchanges which take place within — two bonding as one on an other-dimensional level — rather than from some superficial external elements like receiving flowers or perfume or experiencing soft lights and smooth music. Why deal with the monkey rather than the organ-grinder!
To the untrained eye, Romance has the outward veneer of Love, but it is very different. Romance knows no commitment (though it falsely professes undying love). Romance seduces with false promises and gives the illusion of unity and togetherness. In contrast to Romance, Love is wholly committed (yet free), totally involving (yet liberating) and… wait for it… is far more romantic than Romance. Yes! For all the delightful elements which you may associate with Romance, such as gifts of roses, chocolates, perfume and aftershave, sweet wet kisses in the moonlight (mmm… saliva is the ultimate romantic exchange 😉), springtime in Paris, a candlelit dinner, snuggling on the sofa on a rainy day watching “Casablanca”, receiving a poem, running together in a summer meadow, slow-dancing to Sinatra, holding hands in Rome, mutual massaging, strolling at sunset, etc., can also be done as a part of the deeper, more meaningful, non-illusory experience of LOVE. So if you are primarily a lover, then you will be Romantic by default and also without end, without even trying and without being consciously Romantic. But if you are primarily a Romantic, always seeking out romantic experiences in relationships, then you will remain in a state of immature neediness, relying on tinsel and triviality to convince yourself that you are fulfilled.
It is interesting that the English word, “Romance”, has its origins in the Old French word, romaunt (recent French, roman), meaning a fabulous story or poem, usually fictitious. Why settle for the fictitious, ephemeral, illusory world of Romance when we can have the real deal with the restorative, infinite power of Love? Surely, it’s a no-brainer. Romance is merely fantasy wrapped in a fluffy pink ribbon. Love is the whole cosmos wrapped in the eye of a hurricane.
© Alan Morrison, 2017