What Defines ‘Romantic?’

Sometimes the strangest questions plague me.  Questions that can bug me indefinitely.  Often I can’t even pinpoint what might have brought them to mind.  Maybe a snippet of conversation I didn’t realize I overheard, or something I saw that didn’t register at the time.  It’s hard to say.  All I know is that one question in particular keeps coming up this week.  And it strikes me as a little weird given that the majority of the books I’ve written fall into the romance genre.

What, exactly, does ‘romantic’ mean?

Is it showering that special someone with gifts, candy and flowers?  Candlelight suppers for two, with violin music playing in the background?  Pulling out chairs and opening doors for ladies?  Sucking it up and cuddling with your guy during football games, and making out during time outs and half-time?  An evening of dancing to  your favorite love songs?

What does it mean?

Curious, I consulted the resident expert of the internet…Google.  Which led me to the online version of the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

There were definitely a lot of results, but few that were actually applicable to my question.  First was:  ‘consisting of or resembling a romance.’ (Um….duh!)  Then:  ‘having no basis in fact : imaginary.’  (Well that can’t be good.)  Next came:  ‘having an inclination for romance, followed by:  responsive to the appeal of what is idealized, heroic, or adventurous’ (Almost finished),  ‘marked by expressions of love or affection.  And finally:  conducive to or suitable for lovemaking.’


None of the definitions really matched up with my initial guesses, did they?  Nope.  Not a single mention of flowers, dancing or candlelight.  Would that, then, make them fall into the, ‘having no basis in fact:  imaginary,’ category?  Not if Hallmark, Russell Stover, Kay Jewelers and Hollywood are to be believed.

I don’t know what anyone else thinks, but I think there are a lot of us who believe that the definition of romantic means something entirely different.  Not that gifts and dancing and intimate dinners aren’t nice.  I just think it’s so much more than that.

Having fun together is romantic.  Building a snowman, or walking in the surf on the beach with your jeans rolled up to your knees.  Acting like kids and swinging on the swings at the playground.  Feeding the ducks at the lake, or laughing at old movies together.

Showing consideration is romantic.  A timely massage when your significant other has a backache.  A shoulder to cry on, or a hand to hold.  Really listening, which would include not letting it go in one ear and out the other.  In other words, remembering.  Then one of the most important things of all time, never ever forgetting to put the seat down when you leave the bathroom.  Especially in the middle of the night.  Trust me, midnight sitz baths are not romantic.  Not by any stretch of the imagination!

It’s not the extravagant things in life that are romantic, it’s the little things.  The hugs, the cuddling, the moments of quiet, comfortable togetherness that don’t require words.   Sitting on a blanket watching the sunset, or sharing a sundae in the park.  Having a tray of soup and crackers brought to you when you’re too sick to cook.

These are the things that I believe make a relationship strong and happy.  One that will endure.  These things are romantic.  In my opinion anyway.

I think Alan Jackson got the romance thing exactly right here.  The video is a little long, but this shows that living your life-together-is romantic.  Growing old with someone you love and have things in common with is romantic.  I get goose-bumps every time I watch this.

And now I have a question.

Let’s say you have several uninterrupted hours with the one, and it doesn’t matter if you’re married or single.  Other than the obvious, how could you spend that time in a way you would consider romantic?  I’m just curious because I’ve always had two visions of perfect romantic moments.  Though I imagine they would strike anyone else as dull and boring, they would work for me.

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