I was riding in the car with my mother last week and “Ribbon in the Sky” by Stevie Wonder came on the radio. We both screamed in excitement and immediately started to recite the lyrics because we both consider this to be one of our favorite songs. Let me explain; “Ribbon in the Sky” is a song that has been traditionally played by our family during weddings. Stevie Wonder released the single in the eighties and it has often been considered to be one of his classic ballads. In the song he talks about the power of love, union and the joyous feeling that comes with celebrating love. I really like it because, unlike most of the R&B songs released today, the song is not dominated by sexual verse. Throughout the song he does describe the intimate feelings he has for this person, but his description lacks any physical characteristics; that is what makes it so unique, and quite “romantic.” Today the media is saturated with images of sex and explicit, dramatized intimacy. Often the media mistakenly conveys to the world that sex and love are synonymous and that they come together, like a package. Sex is now becoming a symbol of romance.When we hear slow or “love” songs today, they rarely talk about how lovely or beautiful a girl is, or marriage, but instead they are all about “laying her body down,” “making her moan,” etc. Reality check for all of you: this is not love. Sex can be romantic but it is not romance. So what does it mean to be romantic? What is romance? According to Webster’s Dictionary romance is defined as “a tale or novel of extraordinary, not real or familiar, life; a fiction, a falsehood; a love affair.” Romantic is defined as “an adjective that pertains to something that is fanciful; fabulous or given to sentimental or amorous feelings’.”

Old-fashioned ideals of romance and chivalry have often been depicted in romance novels or movies. In romance movies you might see a couple walking in the park holding hands, roses might be given just because, dinners are held by candlelight, and love letters are written to show affection. But are these ideas really put into practice or just live in the fantasy world of television, fairy tales, and other media? In my experiences I would say the answer to this question is yes and no. The offerings of romance that I listed earlier are now usually considered to be sweet, at times, but corny and impractical.

In today’s world, romance movies are usually labeled “chick flicks” and often are disregarded as unrealistic stories that could never happen in everyday life. The words “I love you,” are not always easy to come by, love songs can be considered depressing and at times it seems you have to go through a million bad apples to find the good one. Which leads me to my main question: does romance still exist? If so, are roses still acceptable or becoming a cliché? Why does it seem romance has now become synonymous with corny?

My boyfriend and I had an interesting conversation the other day about these same issues. We had decided to rent a movie, and this time I decided to pick a movie in the romance section. My boyfriend moaned in disappointment and agitation. “Ugh. Why do girls always want to watch these crappy movies about love that are so unrealistic?” I just brushed his question aside and got the movie anyway. For the entire movie he critiqued every scene, claiming that it was unbelievably predictable and that the love story was a joke. So I asked him, “Well what is the typical love story today?” He really did not have an answer for me instead he just shook his head and said, “Not that.”

Have we resulted in settling for the “fast food” of love and romance? Has the dating scene simply reverted to “picking up” a guy/girl for the night, nothing more, nothing less or “placing an order” for a guy/girl on one of these newly raved dating websites? What has happened to courting, the romance? (You know, the getting to know you before I go to your apartment to spend the night?) These questions come at a perfect time in the year, Valentine’s Day, where romance is glorified, and sold as a commodity. When a couple of West Chester University students were asked these questions, they responded:

“It’s just the small things.yeah romance can be hard to find but it is there.” “Everyone has their own idea of romance…romance is personal and you have to make it happen for it to exist.” “Romance is practically dead. People just don’t know how to think outside of themselves for someone else. It sucks out here! “

In reflection of my own analysis, personal experiences and talk with students, I think that maybe the romance we once knew is dead. However, romance does still exist; it just is slightly modified. The love stories commonly portrayed in books and movies are not always common in everyday relationships.

However, I do see acts of romance displayed through simple things. For instance, when my girlfriends and I talk about showing love we always talk about the things that our significant others do that maybe do not make sense to those around us, but which are special between the two of us. For example, it could be considered romantic to simply buy your significant other lunch because you know their flex is low, or to fill up their gas tank because you know they have been riding on empty for five days. It could be romantic to reaffirm your support and love for them by saying “I got you babe, I support you, and you know I am always here for you.”

Romance does still exist; it is just not always what you see in the movies or on television. The meaning of romance is truly defined by each individual. Romance, to me, is that thing that makes you smile and feel all warm inside because you feel appreciated. Believe it or not, the little things in life can take your breath away. I think that these new ideas of romance are more genuine than past ideals because they are not constructed by society.

Maybe we don’t see couples writing each other love notes by hand. These love notes have turned into simple texts in the morning. Maybe we don’t see couples walking hand in hand in the park but, instead, they are walking each other to class. We are now making our own statements of love. I have always been told that love is an action word, and if what you do has no originality behind it, you should ask yourself if it is really that special. Romance has been modified over time, and the meaning of it has changed. My charge to you this Valentine’s Day is to honor the simple things that the special person in your life would like.

Danae Irvis is a student at West Chester University. She can be reached at DI652427@wcupa.edu.

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