Romance Reality Check

With the big day for romance upon us tomorrow, I thought I’d revisit this post I did last year. The reality of romance from yours truly, the cynical romance writer….

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. (Ross Poldark, is the perfect example of the flawed but fabulous hero.)


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?

55 thoughts on “Romance Reality Check

  1. God I could go on and on about this subject. I know for me all the great literature I read gave me completely unrealistic expectations of love. Poor girls never had a chance. The one time I “fell in love” I turned into a desperate needy pathetic overemotional slob–probably more symptomatic of my emotional instabilities lol. At 53 I’ve come to the conclusion that 1. Love is not literature and movies. 2. I highly doubt there is a ONE for each of us. 3. I highly doubt the ability of myself to maintain love for one woman for the rest of my life. Sorry, but there’s too many beautiful souls to ignore

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I believe you are right about the whole idea of just one soul mate. I thinks it matters greatly on timing and circumstances. The qualities we look for in a partner change as we change and mature. As for sustaining a lifelong commitment to one person, well I suppose that is up to you! I think it is possible.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “Do love stories give us unrealistic expectations about how things should play out in the real world?” um YEAH they do. Just watch any Ryan Gosling movie. That’s as unrealistic as it gets. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Romance is going out for a day and taking a packed lunch made by your wife. At lunchtime finding an ”I Love You’ note tucked in with your sandwiches. I was 60 then.Romance is a series of little gestures and doesn’t need the grand gesture to mean anything.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I do apologise the post is excellent and strikes a good middle ground between romanticism and cynicism. Can we live without romantic expectations though? Reality is never going to cut the mustard on this one. A lot of modern rom cons are absurds though and show a real confusion regarding what men are expected to be.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. We are expected to be decisive, sensitive, to take charge but to defer to women as well. It is a real confusion as if the movies are to be believed then women want a poetic brute who isn’t a thug but is also not a wet blanket. As for the Disney effect, well it isn’t a good effect.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. The grand gesture proposal is not the only thing that is overrated. This has also influenced our kids as seen by the way they feel they must one up each other in prom proposals. I am old school in thinking that it is the quality of the declarations of love and affection than it is the quantity of it. The small things that show you pay attention when the person you love is telling about the things they enjoy or makes them “Them” matter so much more than the grandiose. Give me a Hotwheel of my dream car (VW, Jeep) or vintage vinyl of my favorite music over fireworks and a freeway size banner any day.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s absolutely the little things that put the R in Romance. Of course when you’re young you often don’t know that yet and thereby chase after recreating those impossible, improbable romances as displayed in the arts. I’m always curious to see when society folks have a full page write-up on their glam, bling, look-at-us wedding in the newspaper if they’re still married five years down the road. Keep it simple, keep it real!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I think stories are so unrealistic. It’s both sad and frustrating. Most sad of all is that it sells by the truckload. Movies too. I’ll take reality all day long. Not that I don’t love a fantasy, but I know the difference. I’ll take the little things all day long. Grand gestures are for those who wish to hit a home run once or twice a year. I’ll take a guy striving for a killer batting average.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Love the baseball analogy! And thanks to Moneyball, we know that’s the way to win the World Series! Lol! But yes, reality doesn’t have to NOT be romantic, we just have to look for it in more down to earth ways. 💜

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I think people ‘want romance’ but no one actually wants to maintain it, because the movie/book romance doesn’t get into the nitty gritty of the daily grind. And maintenance is boring.
    It’s romantic to me that my man still grabs my butt, or when he can look at my face and see what I’m feeling. Those things are really little, but it’s the core, non sexual, intimacy that makes things ‘romantic’ for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Love that, Wendy! Yes, it is those little things. Being able to talk to someone, enjoying one another’s company, even comfortable silence. All of that is more important than big once in a while demonstrations. That really isn’t sustainable.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I agree that a lot of romance is over the top, but fiction is just that, fiction, right? I mean mysteries, sci fy and action movies and books aren’t exactly real life, either. I, for one, don’t want to read something that’s as boring as my real life!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. First of all. Poldark. Goddamn I love that man. Second- yes. Romance films are overrated and unrealistic. Though I do think it’s realistic to love someone deeply for a lifetime. I think it’s hard to know though.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I wanted to respond… but I just can’t touch this post. This may sound melodramatic, but it’s too painful for me. I can quickly say that yes, in many ways, movies and such have ruined lots of things… but no matter what awful relationship crap I’ve been in, I’m still a romantic. I just have to get there in my imagination because I’ll never have it any other way. Okay, I have to go now since I already made myself cry.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Bah humbug!!!!!! It’s this instant gratification thing that so many demand nowadays. Must have, shall have, now, bigger than across the street, grander than the Kardashians, and then they are “bored” so everything goes to pot.

    Cynical, me? God forbid that I should be so!

    42 years married and my wife and I gave up giving Valentine’s cards or gifts long ago. Why should we contribute to those who add to their coffers by inflating prices in the name of a commercial event. Much better to share hugs, buy an unexpected gift “just because”, go out for an unplanned meal, say “I love you” in the check out queue.

    Purely by chance my wife has just wished me “Happy Valentines day”!

    Liked by 1 person

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