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10 October 2013

define "romantic relationship"

I don't know about you, but my generation of young girls was taught that you should grow up and marry your best-friend-in-male-form, who should happen to be sexually attractive by Disney standards. And, you should always be on the lookout for someone to spend your life with, because you don't want to be Alone.

I decided quite a while ago that I didn't want to get married. And I decided that again after each of my two divorces. This time, I was going to stick with it. I didn't want to be married, but I didn't want to be alone, either.

I wasn't wrong about not getting married again - I just hadn't realized how pervasive the idea of marriage was in my relationships.

A while back I wrote about my grievances with marriage as a contract. Archer left a comment on that post which concluded with this little gem: "You gotta get a man honey. But why? You ain't nothin without a huuuzzbind! But..why? Hmm, can't remember...but it's an essential truth dammit girl! Yeah. Well. What does a relationship really need to be its best self?"

He was, obviously, commenting on the social pressure on women to 'get a man' to spend her life with. Life isn't all it can be until you've found someone to be with. This idea goes deeper than a contract, though. Ultimately, we look for relationships that might culminate in harmonious cohabitation. It's relatively easy to throw off the idea of contracting your relationship; if you want a ceremony for that, there are plenty of non-contractual methods, and extramarital cohabitation isn't so inflammatory as it once was.

It's far more difficult to throw of the idea that a relationship must culminate.

Why must it 'go' anywhere?
"What does a relationship really need to be its best self?"

This train of thought rolled right over me when I was trying to explain to my son that Archer and I weren't going to be in a "romantic" relationship anymore, but that he was still my best friend. What the hell does "romantic" even mean?

I checked with the Oxford people for you:

If romance is the idealized version of love...

What is more romantic than a friendship of lovers?

What it comes down to, in my mind is this: take away the expectations of cohabitation/marriage/full-life-sharing, but keep the love, keep the friendship, keep the sex; what's left is a love that has no external forces shaping it. Marriage and all that aren't excluded, but they're no longer demanded because the expectation is gone. Without expectations, love is free to develop naturally into whatever works for the participants. At least in an ideal situation. Which is what we're talking about when we apply the 'romance' label.

This train of thought has changed my outlook on romance.


  1. Anonymous12:34


  2. Romance, "romantic" is in the eye of the beholder. A few days ago, my Piano Man bought a figurine: "Throgh, Frog of Thunder!" He got it out of the box, showed it to me, and said, "Gods, capes, frogs, hammers, superheroes. All the things you like and I like. I thought we should have it." I grinned from ear to ear and told him, "I'm sooo going to do you, right now."

    That is our romance. Some people might be outraged by the mere idea. So I'm there with the bit about a relationship needing "to be its best self" and for the people in it to continue to be themselves while loving another. When we change in order to please others or society in general, then we end up with two divorces under our belts.

    My failed marriages had nothing to do with love dying, not at first. It was all about each of us trying to be our best for the other, and if we don't put ourselves first, all goes to crap.