We’ve just had Valentine’s Day, so I might as well say it now – I can’t stand romantic things.
I don’t mean that I can’t stand love. Love is, in and of itself, pretty fantastic. I’m not in a long-term relationship at the moment, but I like the idea of being in one – the thought of being with someone who excites you but also gives you as much encouragement and emotional support as possible. I’d like to come home at the end of the day to somebody who makes me happy.
But I wouldn’t like to come home to find the entire flat filled with roses. I wouldn’t like my hypothetical boyfriend to turn up riding a white horse and give me a long speech about how he’ll always be my knight in shining armour. I wouldn’t like to write my name and address in a book, give it to a charity shop and then feel obligated to marry the man who bought it.
I’m not that interested in flowers. I do like long walks on the beach, but I usually spend them looking for beached jellyfish and weird-looking seaweed. I like looking up at the stars whenever I’m in an area that doesn’t have too much light pollution, but I doubt I could spend more than about two minutes talking about how beautiful they are and how it feels as though they’re shining just for us.
It’s not as if I don’t get the appeal of some of these things. It’s nice to know that your significant other has taken the time to arrange something they think you’ll like and it’s exciting to do or see something a bit different from your everyday routine, but none of this stuff has anything to do with how healthy or unhealthy your relationship is – we’ve all known couples who invest everything in grand gestures and spend the rest of the time arguing and cheating on each other. Whenever I hear somebody banging on about fate and destiny and fairy tales and how their relationship was just meant to be, I always wonder if they’re just trying to convince themselves they’re not wasting their time.
It seems to me that romance is less about love itself and more about the unnecessary trappings of love. If your relationship is strong and stable, then flats full of roses and long walks on the beach are nice little extras, I guess. But if it’s falling apart around your ears, then neither of those things are going to save it. If you focus on the trappings instead of the real thing, you’re never going to get anywhere.