Expectations of romance change with the times. Feelings, desires, wants and needs are expressed with alarming, blazing speed. The idea of romance is measured in moments, not months. Efficient as the internet is, could there be something missing in exceedingly rapid coupling? Are we missing critical steps in the rush to fall in love?
How Romantic Are You?
Swift accomplishments are something we have become accustomed in the p.c. age. Waiting for anything seems archaic. For certain things, the rush to completion of a task is advantageous. This great speed has enormous disadvantages regarding becoming acquainted with someone new.
Complicating present-day dating is the absence of any steadfast rules. Navigating a modern romantic relationship means operating in a landscape populated by options. Choices and configurations for love and relationships are changing and growing more diverse. Society now accepts greater latitude regarding how love can be configured. What is lacking is guidance in how to successful handle these newer options.
An advantage of old-fashioned romance was providing direction in behavior. There were clear expectations made regarding how dating was handled. Society made it clear what was considered acceptable, and what was not. Constrictive in far too many ways, and outdated in many, these defined behaviors provided a framework on what to do. If uncertain, social norms provided certainty.
Knowing what to say, and with whom to say it, is a balancing act now. What is acceptable changes rapidly in a world where so many things are not fixed. Ideas expressed in one environment can be considered welcome, but in another forbidden. Even who says what and how can be subject to scrutiny.
Lacking clear cut guidelines in an ocean of options is unnerving. Knowing what is expected can turn into a guessing game. But there is a way to finding answers. Solutions to the dilemmas of modern love may mean examining history.
Old Fashioned Romance
Mythical times when “old fashioned romance” was preferable to the present is fiction. There are way too many things from previous times best left to the past. Still, there are elements from previous times worth restoring. With a bit of tweaking and refinement, some could fit well in the here and now.
Romance as an ideal could be the solution regarding how to approach love. Romantic love in the Middle Ages, at least among the upper classes, was a carefully articulated dance. Courtly love was both elaborate, even dangerous, but filled with beautifully expressed devotion.
While that template is problematic at best, usually the knight was single and the lady in question married, some elements of these courtships could be worth borrowing. With a bit of modification, they can be salvaged from annals of time.
Medieval ladies are gone, as the Knights that loved them. The techniques they employed to win the hearts of the focus of their affections survives. Troubadours and Minnesingers of the age were renowned for their romantic words. Their lines were recited to move and win hearts.
Either self-penned, or taken from other sources, their poetic songs were used to create a fairy tale like view of love that was as dreamlike as possible. Beautifully phrased words said well were used to attract and seduce. Although these lines were intended for a specific audience, that does not mean such words cannot be repurposed for the present day.
Constructing the Perfect Modern Love Poem
Regardless of who you are, or what gender, a carefully chosen poem can be the key to making someone feel special, needed and wanted. Rather than simply saying, “I love you,” a poem accomplishes that same goal with elegance and depth.
Back in the day, everything was handwritten, until the invention of the printing press. Today, the bulk of communication is in some digital form. Certainly, digital communication is convenient. However, can it express the human expressive quality of a handwritten document? Every digital word looks the same. Every written word is an original when written. The manner of setting word to paper is an original.
A handwritten poem carries a bit of extra meaning. The act of writing is personal. The document created on a piece of paper occupies real space, not digital space. Digital is fine when pressed for time, but a wonderful personal poem composed on a nice sheet of paper tells the recipient you went a step further in making a unique moment on the page. And you can take things a step further.
Should you be the creative type, why not compose your own poem of love? It does not matter if you are skilled, or not. Creating something so personal illustrates that you have deeply considered what this person means to you. You are willing to commit feelings to the page, one of the ultimate in hopeless romantic gestures of love.
While the poems and poetic love songs of the courts were confined to being male to female, or female to male, that does not mean you cannot use poetry to reveal feelings if you are a man expressing love for a man, a women for another woman, or a person coming from a variety of gender identities.
Rome’s past gives us examples of same gender attraction in the written word. A young man named Juventius moved the Poet Catullus to such a degree he wrote of his passions. He spoke of the “harvest of our kissing.” And he did not end with beautiful words. Several of his lines become way more graphic.
Passion fueled the work of one of the most important lesbian poets of all time, Sappho. She is so esteemed as to be considered one of the nine great lyric poets of her era. Her erotic writings are still appreciated.
Master sculptor, painter and architect, Michelangelo is renowned for this work as a visual artist. What is not well known are his accomplishments as a poet.
No matter what your orientation, gender or object, or objects, of your affections, there is a poet out there who has explored the depths of love. If you cannot find that specific poem that suits your needs, why not create your own? Why not consider mining the past for inspiration? Creativity, passion and a unique perspective can leave a positive impression. Perhaps, even a permanent one.
Should the written word be difficult, that does not mean you cannot access yet another world of expression, music. You do not have to be a man to serenade the object of your affections. A woman, man, trans person of non-binary, anyone can do the same.
If the only thing you can play is a CD, a mix CD or collection of MP3s’s can do the trick. Gestures like this bring a personal air to the proceedings. Songs are often associated with memories. Your particular set of songs can be a way to relive a past time you shared, or even a future one you wish to share.
Central to all ideas of romance is time. Attempting to win the attention and love of another, this is an activity best savored over time. Certainly, it is quicker to scour the web, find a prospect, exchange selfies and intimate text messages and then meet. It is faster to go to a club, see someone that attracts your attention, and then start up a relationship on the spot. And after you've been in a relationship for awhile, sometimes you may need reminders of some simple, romantic ways to keep the flame alive.
What is absent from such plans is the very thing that can make a moment romantic. It is this one essential ingredient to make meeting someone feel special, worthwhile. The missing ingredient is courtship.
When love goes from 0 to 60 in five seconds, how much can you learn about your new potential partner? There is only so much that can be acquired when love moves at the speed of light.
One element of the past that worked as a way to prevent people diving deeply into love way too fast was courtship. Men and women followed an established pattern for meeting, talking, socializing, discussing and learning about each other over time, instead of “cutting to the chase.”
Courting gave a man the opportunity to “woo” his prospective new companion. In previous times, there were formal dances, gifts exchanged and planned formal visits. There was structure as to how people met and mingled. It was not open ended.
While classic courtship was for heterosexuals, that does not mean that people of other orientations cannot take advantage of a carefully paced process. Processes of the past can be reconfigured for contemporary expectations.
Allowing for there to be time to be convinced of the merit of a new love, you are taking a highly sensible approach to love. Courtship also allowed time to gauge the seriousness of a suitor.
Holding doors, pulling out chairs, these acts of courteous behavior have been labeled in some quarters as vestiges of a sexist history. These acts of gentility do not have to be seen through the lens of toxic masculinity.
Aromantics and Asexuality - Where Romance May Not Work
Romance and love have never been a one size fits all proposition. While many seek the intensity of an all-encompassing physical, mental, and emotional connection, there are some who avoid it. Aromantics are those individuals who make a point of avoiding it.
Is it OK to be aromantic? Of course. Simply because aromantics do not seek tight emotional ties, that does not mean they are cold, indifferent or without feelings. What it does mean is that relationships for them are not based on the idea of close romantic ties of affection that involve meeting complex involved emotional needs. For some of them public displays of romantic feeling are not things they seek, desire want or need. However, they are capable of sustaining relationships. They may enjoy the company of others, but their expectations of prospective partners are different from what most would anticipate.
Aromantics are not confined to one gender or sexual orientation. Sexual preferences and identity are something very different. What the term aromantic describes is a person who for whatever reason(s) feels discomfort with the bonds found in a typical relationship. The point to keep in mind is that the level of intimacy is going to be different from what is usually expected.
Some aromatic people prefer not to be touched by other people. Some may actually have no issues with hand holding, cuddling, even hugging as these things may present no significant problem. For others more distance is preferred. It is very much a spectrum with some at extreme ends, and others in the middle.
Aromantics even have their own aromantic flag, which consists of five stripes, each with a different meaning. On the modern aromantic flag, the stripes are dark green, light green, white, grey and black which represent various types of aromanticism, sexuality and platonic relationships. The two green stripes on the aromantic flag were chosen to play off the opposite of red, the traditional color associated with romance.
Another group that can be confused with the aromantic are the asexual. An asexual romantic is defined by a desire not to have any sexual relationships with anyone, or to have extremely limited sexual activity. This group can be capable of caring, loving and enjoying sustained relationships. They may even be comfortable with public displays of affection, romantic acts, and attachment.
The main point to keep in mind is that sex is not a principal part an asexual person’s life. Just as in much in human sexuality, this too can be better considered on scale from very limited sexuality to none at all. This again, does not mean they lack care, feelings, or even romantic feelings. It simply means they do not prefer to express themselves mainly in a sexual manner. Asexuality can be found in any gender and any orientation.
Bringing Together Romance from the Past and Present
Isaac Asimov, titan of science fiction and author of the Foundation books (now being adapted as an Apple TV series), wrote that creativity is making a connection between ideas not related. Visual artists for centuries have “appropriated” work from the past and placed it in new contexts. Combining different ideas is the heart of creativity.
Figuring how to navigate love and romance in the present, imagination is an ideal pilot.
The contemporary world may not seem an ideal fit for ideas centuries old. On the surface, it may seem a peculiar match. Thinking of how successful those old approaches have been, it makes good sense to take a glance backward.
Naturally, we do not want to bring back everything from previous times without alteration. Some ideas are better left in books. However, there are some ideas from the past that with a bit of adjustment can bring back the thrill, the excitement, even the joy of exploring new love. Contemporary times can feel distant, even cold. However, a few gallant gestures from the past have the potential to ignite the flames of love and romance in the here and now.