They say falling in love gives you butterflies in your tummy, it makes one float on a cloud of happiness. But then there are those who say that love also has the potential to drag you to the darkest corners of your existence, making life seem meaningless if things don’t go the way you want them to. But is love really what we make it out to be – a Bollywood saga we are desperate to play out in our lives? Or do most of us tend to confuse love and romance, and pay the cost of it dearly?
Our idea of romance is largely shaped by pop culture, to an extent that it takes years of experience to rewrite our thought process. The first date, the first kiss, the happily ever after that comes after conquering one’s fears and opposition from families, society and so on. We want a love story that is worthy of our Instagram feed, we want to look and feel good when we are in love, even in its most miserable moments. Isn’t it all about the optics? However, love might not always flourish in your life the way you want it to, or the way films and TV soaps want us to think is the only way to have it.
Let us understand the basic difference – romance is candlelight dinner, flowers and chocolate on Valentine’s Day, receiving cute texts from your partner through the day. Love is finding a fresh tub of your favourite ice cream flavour in the freezer even before the old one has been polished off. Romance is full of gestures while love needs to be sought in tiny little things that your partner might do for you on a daily basis. Romance needs a lot of effort, but love is understanding the unsaid somehow harder and effortless at the same time.
Love and romance can coexist in a relationship, we can also learn to live in the absence of each because they cannot be force-fitted into one’s life.
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Why do we need to understand this difference, because our society, as it does on many other fronts, has also failed us when it comes to explaining what love means. Women and men, boys and girls are not encouraged to talk about love (for a partner) and simultaneously we are fed all these over-the-top ideas about romance that set standards for future relationships.
Especially for women, who are mostly conditioned to develop a stereotypical gaze at love and relationships, the idea of romance serves as a checklist based on which they are told to run their relationships. This could be damning – because it is not just about a mismatch of expectation, but about a huge difference between the reality of relationships and our preparation to carry them out.
This is why women need to talk among themselves about love and relationships. And mind you, the conversation shouldn’t unfurl like a competition to prove who has the most romantic or unromantic partner (you’ll be surprised how popular this line of conversation is). The dialogue needs to be about altering the course of our expectations entirely so that we do not feel clueless in a relationship.
Again, this doesn’t mean that we burn all teddy bears, throw out the roses and disown romance. Romance is a necessary part of a love relationship, but the latter can’t only be about the former, all the time. Love and romance can coexist in a relationship, we can also learn to live in the absence of each because they cannot be force-fitted into one’s life. What we need to master, is the art of switching gears, and knowing how sometimes that tub of ice cream might be a better indication of where a relationship is headed than a grand dinner date.
Views expressed are the author’s own.