I always used to consider myself a romantic. A slightly cynical one, admittedly, but a romantic nonetheless. I believed in fairytales and true love that sweeps you off your feet and happily ever after. But here’s the thing: I don’t anymore. It’s not that I don’t believe in love – I do. I believe in love and marriage, and in doing kind, thoughtful things for your partner. Flowers still make me smile. I appreciate things like that. But I don’t think fairytale love is real. Or at least, it can’t last.
The truth is that you need something stronger than that if you’re going to spend your life with someone. You need more than just the feeling of love, because there will be mornings when you wake up and you don’t feel like dancing in the moonlight with the person next to you. But maybe you decide to put the dishes in the dishwasher before they get up, just to be nice.
The initial, butterflies-in-your-stomach kind of love is fantastic, but it can’t be sustained forever. It needs to be the start of a deeper kind of love. And every so often, you’ll probably still get those butterflies –seek them out. Have date nights, have adventures together, don’t settle for a feeling of complacency. But don’t expect the butterflies to be constant. That’s asking a lot of them, don’t you think?
I believe that love and marriage can work because I see them work. I see my parents and the love they have for each other – and the moments when they still sweep each other off their feet, even though it’s been 29 years. And that is a beautiful thing, but their love isn’t based on a fleeting feeling. It’s based on deep commitment and appreciation of each other. A love that is more than just “we make each other feel good”. Because you won’t always feel good. Sometimes you’ll feel downright terrible. But if the person next to you every morning is your best friend, you’ll get through the terrible days.
Mind you, old-fashioned romance certainly shouldn’t be dead, because when you care about someone you want to do things to show them that. We all want to feel appreciated, and we should all take the time to make sure others feel that way as well. But thinking that it will always be sunshine and flowers is setting yourself up for bitter disappointment. Fairytale romance is sweet, but it almost seems cheap and shallow in comparison to the deep, lifelong love of two people who commit to each other day in and day out. Sure, that type of love might not seem as “romantic”, but honestly I think it’s more beautiful.
So am I a romantic? Well, not the way I used to be. But I think it’s probably just part of getting older and gaining a better understanding of the world and relationships around me. Seeing – and experiencing – what does and doesn’t work. Because eventually I do want to get married, and (obviously) I want it to last.