Romance In The Modern World – Am I doing It Right?
We live in a world of bigger, better, faster, more and often think this is the right way to do romance and create long lasting love – but is it?
Flowers….champagne….hot air balloon rides….expensive candlelit dinners….is this what romance is to you?
How about holding hands, sitting entwined watching a movie, talking and looking into each other’s eyes without any other distractions, a cheeky text during the long work day?
Different delivery, same result.
What is romance?
As children reading fairytales little girls have it imprinted upon them that a successful relationship consists of being swept off their feet by a handsome stranger who will love and cherish them (and possibly control them too – but that’s for another day!) for the rest of their lives, and little boys learn that they need to be a suave hero to impress. Love is easy, instant and there are certainly no misunderstandings.
The path of true love is much messier than that and that’s exactly how it should be.
Flowers or time?
I like to substitute the word romance for thoughtfulness, because underneath any gesture, big or small, is the idea that your partner – potential or long-term – is thinking of you. Anyone with a credit card can call up Interflora and order a dozen of the best, but the part that makes your heart feel warm and fuzzy isn’t the smell of the roses (although that’s a lovely experience for some) but the fact that someone has taken the time to think about you and make you smile.
So what’s the best way to get what you want/need in your love connection?
1. Be honest
Tell your partner what makes you feel loved/special and ask them the same question. Literally turn to them and ask “What makes you feel loved?”
I’ve seen couples in my practice discuss this very question and exclaim (sometimes after years):
“But I thought you liked flowers?!” And they’ve said “no, I’d much prefer you send me a text message saying you’re thinking of me.”
The onus is on each of you to open up – talk honestly, come out of your corner and acknowledge and appreciate the things you like, and speak up when it’s not working.
Be kind, patient and flexible in your approach and realise that it’s not their fault they’ve been getting it wrong – they are not a mind-reader after all. One useful way of getting the connection strong again is using “I” statements. For example:
“I really like it when….”
“I’d much prefer we do ….. How does that sound to you?”
And when they get it right? Tell them. Say something like “I really appreciate that….”. Everyone likes a bit of acknowledgment and it confirms for them they are on the right path so you’ve got a better chance of a repeat, and who knows, you might just be happy!
2. Learn about love, and yourself
We think nothing of trying to learn all we can about nutrition, exercise and other aspects of our lives but we think we should somehow be automatic experts in how relationships work. Why?
You grew up with one model of how relationships should (or shouldn’t) be, and this is but one example. So get out there and learn – read books on how men and women communicate differently (The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman is a classic), learn about your own emotional needs and how to meet them, talk to friends who have successful relationships and ask for tips. If you feel like you’re still missing crucial pieces of the puzzle, seek out a professional – compare it to seeing a personal trainer, enhancing the way you’re interacting with a love partner being the goal.
“We think nothing of trying to learn all we can about nutrition, exercise and other aspects of our lives but we think we should somehow be automatic experts in how relationships work. Why?”
3. Pay attention to your love bank account
Create a list of things you enjoy doing together (e.g. crosswords, the latest Netflix series, puzzles, walks) and do them! Don’t think romance has to be paired with exciting grand gestures or you’ll find that it’s too expensive/time-consuming/stressful to organise and you won’t do anything.
People often make the mistake of waiting until birthdays, anniversaries or holidays to fuel their connection but this will run you dry for the rest of the year.
Think of your relationship like a bank account that needs regular deposits to stay healthy through the tougher times, so brainstorm together about the ways you can connect regularly – and make time in your day for them.
- 5-10 minutes talking together daily with no interruptions can make a relationship thrive.
- Compliment/acknowledge each other regularly and speak to each other with kindness.
- Make eye contact – sometimes we get caught up in the day-to-day and treat each other more like colleagues than love partners. Stop, look and listen to each other – it fuels connection.
- Control your screens – phones, tablets, laptops….they’re not going away but your partner might if you spend too much time on them, so take charge of how they fit your life effectively so they don’t take over your life. Use the ‘do not disturb’ functions, put them out of sight in a drawer, and notice how much better you connect when you’re screen-free.
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