What Defines ‘Romantic?’

Sometimes the strangest questions plague me.  Questions that can bug me indefinitely.  Often I can’t even pinpoint what might have brought them to mind.  Maybe a snippet of conversation I didn’t realize I overheard, or something I saw that didn’t register at the time.  It’s hard to say.  All I know is that one question in particular keeps coming up this week.  And it strikes me as a little weird given that the majority of the books I’ve written fall into the romance genre.

What, exactly, does ‘romantic’ mean?

Is it showering that special someone with gifts, candy and flowers?  Candlelight suppers for two, with violin music playing in the background?  Pulling out chairs and opening doors for ladies?  Sucking it up and cuddling with your guy during football games, and making out during time outs and half-time?  An evening of dancing to  your favorite love songs?

What does it mean?

Curious, I consulted the resident expert of the internet…Google.  Which led me to the online version of the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

There were definitely a lot of results, but few that were actually applicable to my question.  First was:  ‘consisting of or resembling a romance.’ (Um….duh!)  Then:  ‘having no basis in fact : imaginary.’  (Well that can’t be good.)  Next came:  ‘having an inclination for romance, followed by:  responsive to the appeal of what is idealized, heroic, or adventurous’ (Almost finished),  ‘marked by expressions of love or affection.  And finally:  conducive to or suitable for lovemaking.’

Well…

None of the definitions really matched up with my initial guesses, did they?  Nope.  Not a single mention of flowers, dancing or candlelight.  Would that, then, make them fall into the, ‘having no basis in fact:  imaginary,’ category?  Not if Hallmark, Russell Stover, Kay Jewelers and Hollywood are to be believed.

I don’t know what anyone else thinks, but I think there are a lot of us who believe that the definition of romantic means something entirely different.  Not that gifts and dancing and intimate dinners aren’t nice.  I just think it’s so much more than that.

Having fun together is romantic.  Building a snowman, or walking in the surf on the beach with your jeans rolled up to your knees.  Acting like kids and swinging on the swings at the playground.  Feeding the ducks at the lake, or laughing at old movies together.

Showing consideration is romantic.  A timely massage when your significant other has a backache.  A shoulder to cry on, or a hand to hold.  Really listening, which would include not letting it go in one ear and out the other.  In other words, remembering.  Then one of the most important things of all time, never ever forgetting to put the seat down when you leave the bathroom.  Especially in the middle of the night.  Trust me, midnight sitz baths are not romantic.  Not by any stretch of the imagination!

It’s not the extravagant things in life that are romantic, it’s the little things.  The hugs, the cuddling, the moments of quiet, comfortable togetherness that don’t require words.   Sitting on a blanket watching the sunset, or sharing a sundae in the park.  Having a tray of soup and crackers brought to you when you’re too sick to cook.

These are the things that I believe make a relationship strong and happy.  One that will endure.  These things are romantic.  In my opinion anyway.

I think Alan Jackson got the romance thing exactly right here.  The video is a little long, but this shows that living your life-together-is romantic.  Growing old with someone you love and have things in common with is romantic.  I get goose-bumps every time I watch this.

And now I have a question.

Let’s say you have several uninterrupted hours with the one, and it doesn’t matter if you’re married or single.  Other than the obvious, how could you spend that time in a way you would consider romantic?  I’m just curious because I’ve always had two visions of perfect romantic moments.  Though I imagine they would strike anyone else as dull and boring, they would work for me.

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15 Comments

Filed under Romance

15 responses to “What Defines ‘Romantic?’

  1. I love this post, Kristy! And I love the ideas you have about what ‘romantic’ is, because it’s definitely so much more than flowers and presents (trust me, when my ex calls me up once or twice a year trying to get me to see him because he has a birthday/assorted holiday present for me, I find nothing romantic about it, especially because he’s the father of my child and he may or may not ever bring her into the conversation).

    Love that Alan Jackson video. Though my personal favorite on this concept is “Just Another Day in Paradise” by Phil Vasar.

  2. Thanks, Breeana. Guys just never seem to get it, do they? At least not any I’ve ever known. Maybe that’s why I enjoy writing romance novels because I can ‘make’ the heroes the way I wish most men were. Gifts can be nice, depending on the reason (your ex doesn’t have a good enough reason from the sounds of it!). But it’s the investment of time, the little, considerate things that add up over time, and mostly the affection matter the most.

    I like the song you mentioned, by the way. This one just gives me chills when I really take the time to listen to the words. I think he wrote it after he and his wife separated for awhile, and it’s so on the mark about a couple that have been through years together, struggled, and finally realized what they mean to one another. The fact that Alan Jackson sings it…just icing on the cake! 🙂

  3. Oh…I meant to add, NOT considering your children as important definitely falls on the NOT ROMANTIC side of the list. Sounds like your ex needs to figure that out!

  4. I totally agree about your song. 🙂 And about the fact that it is just the little things that add up over time. It’s what you do on Tuesday that makes what you do on Valentine’s Day count.

    And no, my ex absolutely does not get it, at all. I’m not sure he ever will. But hey, I got a fantastic kid out of the deal, and, aside from the occasional phone call near holidays or during the five or six days he’s in the middle of holding down a job, he doesn’t even interfere with us. 🙂

  5. I really like that…it’s what you do on Tuesday that makes what you do on Valentine’s Day count. A little box of conversation hearts would be romantic, if the rest of the year was filled with the little things.

    Your ex sounds like he needs to have someone smack him upside the head and knock a few brain cells loose. From what I’m learning, he’s losing out on a great woman, and forever ruining his relationship with his daughter!

  6. asraidevin

    Picking things up at the store, helping get the children in bed, making the juice, setting up his coffee for the morning or making his lunch. We’ve been together 10 years and it’s making each other’s days just a little easier and spending time together. It’s easy for me to just spend the evening on the computer while he vegs infront of the TV or vice versa.

    • You’re right, Asrai. It’s all of the little things added together. When someone can only get into big gestures and ignores the little things, that’s when the problems start. Sounds like you and your husband have a good thing together. 🙂

  7. Oooh, what a question! I’ve been single for almost a year, but my best times with my ex were the ones we spent together cuddling and being silly home-bodies. Presents are nice, but romance ties in with a guy who’s considerate and caring. My dad’s like this — he privileges action over words. He’d give any of us the shirt off his back if we needed it, no questions asked, and for me, that’s the ideal sort of guy that I’d love to find. 😀

    There are so many songs that I love (and that Alan Jackson one is wonderful). Babyface’s “Soon As I Get Home” articulates the storybook “romance” scenario (for straight women, anyway), as he promises his girl that he’ll “buy her clothes, cook her dinner, and pay her rent.” Edwin McCain’s “I’ll Be” still makes my heart clench a little, over a decade since the song came out — it’s one that’ll never get old. I really love John Legend’s “Ordinary People,” though, because I think it gets at the heart of how hard and difficult, and yet beautiful, love can be.

    Great post, Kristy!

    • Thanks! And those ARE the best times. I’d rather have attention and spend time being silly home-bodies than flowers or a sweater. Your dad sounds a lot like my dad was. He wasn’t perfect, and I wouldn’t want some of his character flaws in a man, but most of them, because he was such a kind and caring man. It’s been eight years and I still miss him every day.

      I don’t recognize the titles of the songs you mention, which doesn’t mean I don’t know them (I’m just bad at remembering titles). I’ll have to check them out on YouTube after I get a little sleep. Thanks for stopping by, Lena. 🙂

  8. Coleen Patrick

    For me other than being considerate (i love that) it’s just being together, anywhere where we can be relaxed and happy. Whether it’s sitting on the couch watching our favorite tv show or at a table for two at a restaurant.
    Doesn’t have to be in Italy or one of those fancy huts over the water in Fiji.
    Although that would be awesome 🙂
    Great post!

    • Thanks, Coleen! Together is what counts. As long as you are together. Sometimes you can be in the same room with someone and still feel completely alone. Just being there for one another is what’s important…and it doesn’t matter if it’s on your sofa or in Italy or Fiji. 🙂

  9. CJ

    i wish my dad would read this

  10. Littlecalilady

    I want to dance in the rain. I know it seems goofy but to just stand out there and let the rain pour down and just the two of us dancing. no music but whats in our heads. Then a movie with a fire.

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