Romance Reality Check

Ah, love… Who doesn’t love love? But love in the world of fiction is a funny thing. It’s exciting and passionate and heroic or tragic, even. Two deeply flawed individuals meet, they initially hate each other, conflict arises, circumstances force them together. They find common ground, the struggle they face brings out the best qualities in both of them. They fall desperately, hopelessly in love and live happily ever after. Or if the story ends tragically and the lovers are kept apart, our hearts are broken. Nevertheless, happy ending or no, fictional romances are interesting.

My question for you all to ponder is this: Do love stories give us unrealistic expectations about how things should play out in the real world? Maybe. For example, have you noticed a trend toward super romantic, totally contrived and staged proposals? Do we now expect to be taken up in hot air balloons, on rides in horse-drawn carriages, proposed to on the Jumbotron? Seriously, if someone did that to me, I’d say no just to screw with them.  Did you hear about that idiot who stopped traffic on a freeway to propose and ended up getting arrested?  He’s lucky he didn’t get run over.  Moron.  Anyway, is this what it’s come to? Having to make grand, sweeping, over-the-top gestures of true love?  It makes my eyes roll so far back in my head I can see behind me. How about just going out for a nice dinner? Really, if you want to surprise someone with a ring, do it under the most ordinary circumstances. Or leave the ring in the fridge next to the ketchup or something. That would be surprising.

By now you’re thinking, “Boy howdy, that Meg’s not romantic at all. Somebody musta done her wrong somewheres.” (You’d be thinking that in your old timey cowboy voice.) Ok, truth be told, I have had a couple messed up relationships. However, so have a lot of people and that doesn’t put them off romance. And that goes for me as well. I just think we need to be realistic in our expectations of love in the real world. It’s not all candlelight and flowers and everyone looking like a supermodel. Or Aidan Turner, damn it.  (I’m shameless, I know.)

Image via Buzzfeed


Sometimes the little things can be just as romantic. Like snuggling under the covers on a rainy morning. Or being told you’re beautiful (or handsome) even when your hair is a mess and you don’t have makeup on (or the dude equivalent of that). Or combining your finances and your music collection, even if you hate their Steely Dan albums. (Ok, my Steely Dan albums. No judging.) And kissing even when you’re not going to have sex.

All right, you get the idea. And everyone’s list will be unique anyway. The point is the little things that happen every day can be just as wonderful and loving and romantic as the big shiny things that DeBeers tries to sell you. Or that romance novels lead you to believe. Don’t let fictional romance ruin the real thing for you. Everybody deserves a happy ending.

Love, Meg

What do you think, writers and readers?  What does romance mean to you?

68 thoughts on “Romance Reality Check

  1. I think real life romance is a combination of factors that when mixed in the right amounts will form a bond between two people. Yes, I’m distilling this down to the non-fluff elements because when you strip away all the sweet illusions, what you end up with are people who like each other and enjoy their company.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I agree that fictional romance makes real life tough on both men and women. Men are expected to create these over the top grand gestures and women are perhaps disappointed and left to wonder why their guy didn’t rearrange the letters of the Hollywood sign to say I love you. (I just made that up. That’s good. It should be in a movie)

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I laughed out loud when you wrote you would screw with the proposer if they went over the top on delivering the question. Reading this reminded me of an episode on the TV show “Reba” where her ex counsels the fellow recently married to their daughter that – and I believe this was in reference to Valentine’s Day – you “never want to set the bar too high.” I agree that in a lot of cases writing inspires ridiculous scenarios and subsequent expectations, but the media is really to blame because God knows every single time some one proposes marriage at a sporting event it’s worthy of national attention. The comment by wallacecass summed it up perfectly for me.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s so true! And people (women) always excitedly ask their girlfriends when they get engaged, “how did he propose?” It’s become its own “thing” for Pete’s sake! Sure it should be a nice experience but some of the stuff I hear makes me shake my head! Do guys have those conversations?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Not in my experience. A guy would be “letting his guard down” even discussing how to propose to his girl, what to do for Valentine’s Day, etc. I think at least for guys my age it was a sign of weakness to “kick around” ideas. You’re a man. You’re supposed to figure that kind of stuff out on your own. And I don’t think in my day we were trying to outdo each other. With “social” media now, people are going to want pictures, details, etc. and if you don’t bring your “A” game I guess you run the risk of letting all your “likes” down! More pressure now to be showy.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Isn’t that the truth? You know, if I were a guy I think I’d run for the hills from a high maintenance girl. But then again I know some guys who are looking for that in a girlfriend. So they can post that all over social media!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I think it depends on what kind of romantic each person is. You’re more like me, but I think some people like al that stuff. For me I can’t see the point as every time you need to up the ante to impress.I think there are all kinds of ways in the ordinary world to show someone you love them, but whether they see it or not is the thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re right! It’s what I would call high maintenance though. Can you imagine having to sustain and/or top the previous romantic gesture? It seems exhausting and frustrating. The little daily gestures are just as important but we do have to keep our eyes open for them! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. OMG. Smiling from ear to ear right now. 😀 Although the idea that I may end up in spin cycle every so often does cause me some concern. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I love a bit of aspirational romance, but it’s all viewed or read in the certain knowledge that I’ll never get any of it! How else are we supposed to form irrational crushes on literary characters and secretly hold it against our husbands for not reaching their standard? I ask myself every day where Chris Hemsworth was when I was 25 and looking for a husband!

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Haha! My friend has a mad crush on Loki but I could never see the attraction so you’re safe there. Now, if we were moving into Captain Jack Sparrow territory that would be a different matter all together!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Fine, Nicola! Since you are leaving Loki to me, I shall spare Captain Jack Sparrow for you!
        Meg – Aidan Turner and Colin are yours, I am content with Graham, Thor, Wolverine and Loki and maybe Captain America too! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I honestly do feel that fictional romance (and movies like the Notebook) has put a very different idea of romance into people’s head and it takes a few realistic relationships or heartbreaks to realize that real life romance is not at all like fictional romance. The biggest eye opener in the case is that there is no ‘happily ever after’ in real life romance, it takes a lot of hard work to keep up the romance in a real life relationship. Once can’t just say, “Ok, I got him/her, they’re mine, this means its happily ever after!” Like everything else, relationships also take time energy and hard work.
    I find over-the top proposals a total waste of money, time and energy! I mean, why?? Why so much drama? A simple proposal with a heartfelt message should be enough – but I guess that varies on personal preferences and on how private/extroverted one is!
    Same goes for the longgg lovey-dovey messages people post on Facebook ‘dedicated’ to their partner who is probably sitting right next to them on the couch. Put the damn phone down, look into your partner’s eyes and say “I Love You!” Now that’s romantic…!

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I am, admittedly, a big Nora Roberts fan. But, there’s something about the “knight in shining armor” type she often writes that makes me appreciate what I have even more.
    There are also some things I’ve read in romance novels that I think would border on abuse or rape. It helps put in perspective what you want and don’t want out of a relationship.
    Sure, it’s nice to slip into a fantasy world and day dream for a moment, but in reality, I think it makes me fall in love with my husband even more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love Nora, too. But she has probably ruined a lot of women for “real world” men! And although I enjoy her books, I was thinking of her when I wrote this! I don’t mind a strong man as long as he doesn’t mind a strong woman. I agree with you about appreciating real love even more when you read romantic fiction. It’s got the depth and solidity that will stand the test of time, not burn out if the initial passion ebbs!


  8. Yes, we need to do away with these grand romantic gestures! It used to be that when a man liked a woman he would do nothing more than toss her over his shoulder, board his longship and… I don’t feel like this is relevant to modern romances so I’ll stop there.

    My idea of romance is as simple as sitting in a room with someone doing completely separate things and enjoying each other’s company. Hopeless romantic I know!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Great post – not to mention being thoroughly entertained by all of the comments! The honest movie trailer is a riot. I’m also glad you, Nicola, and Rashmi have sorted out the division of the superheros! haha!
    All of the over-the-top proposals and romantic gestures have become such a bore – and end up leading to bridezillas who care more about the pomp and circumstance of the wedding than the actual marriage they’re entering into. I often wonder what happens to these couples 6 months after the wedding when no one’s paying attention to them anymore.
    My son-in-law proposed to my stepdaughter while they were out walking their dog. I’d always liked him but knew then that he was a keeper!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had a blast with this post! And isn’t that the truth? People are more worried about the showiness of the whole affair than the actual relationship. Your son-in-law sounds like a keeper for sure! And good for your step-daughter being the right kind of girl! There are still a couple superheroes not claimed if you want to throw your hat in the ring!


  10. I am guilty of slipping so deeply into a romance I’m reading (or watching in a movie) that I feel like I am truly a part of it. And, oh yes, in comparison, real life kind of sucks in the romance department! But I’m not completely delusional. I’ve never been the ‘someday my prince will come’ sort of girl. I mean, if he was hot as hell, I wouldn’t toss the prince out of bed, but I was never waiting for him. 🙂

    I, too, have no use for the ridiculous elaborate proposals. I think if that happened to me, it might be a deal breaker. I might say no for real. I wouldn’t want to share that moment with anyone but him! Although on a side note, my husband’s proposal to me was exactly the opposite of a showy romantic gesture… somewhere in between might have been nice. I love what you said about hiding the ring near the ketchup. In my case, probably with the coffee. 😀

    I agree that real-life romance is a whole different concept than the idealized romance in fiction. And I’d rather John get me that new laptop battery I need than toss away money on flowers or chocolate or jewelry.

    And jewelry store commercials nauseate me. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Don’t feel bad. I had to ask my husband to marry me. I might still be waiting for a proposal! That’s a joke… sort of. But we did get off to a rather unusual start! It’s all good now, though! The best gift my husband ever bought me (as a surprise, anyway) was a mountain bike!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I think love in fiction may place unreasonable expectations on romance in the real world. Even worse, are the lofty expectations set by Hollywood. Even reasonable people will make unfiar comparisons to romance in fiction and real life.

    Liked by 1 person

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