My husband is a romance refusnik. He is repelled by the tat. He is too much of a feminist to worship me from afar. He’s anxious he’ll get the surprise holiday all wrong. He knows that ultimately a cup of tea every morning is the key to a good marriage, rather than being a shit then trotting home with 50 red roses.In the past there have been moments when I thought I might be in for some serious romance. There was Joe for instance. I was so young, he was so pretty and a fit young gardener to boot. He left beautifully penned notes and tiny posies of wildflowers on my car windscreen. Finally I capitulated and went out on date with him but I think I ruined it by gaffawing into my cider when he told me was a practising druid. My smile froze when I realised he wasn’t joking. He arranged a second date but stood me up, leaving a beautifully penned note on my windscreen telling me I was I was too superficial for his earthy nature.
Then, in my dating days, I was asked out by a man whose ex-girlfriend called him Mr. Romance. He even worked for a well-known romance book publishers (you know who I mean…) I was so excited, finally, finally!, I was going to get some good romancing. Quite soon I realised that the ex-girlfriend was indeed referring only to his job. This Sir Lancelot was definitely more Sir Shagalot and not remotely interested in recreating the final chapters of Pride and Prejudice.
The first “husband” (yes, he always has to be in inverted commas) seemed pretty romantic, being an inhumanely handsome artist given to wildly expensive gifts and adventures in the wilderness. Unfortunately it transpired that his erratic, grand gestures were more to do with his alcohol abuse than adoration of me.
From these experiences I have come to the conclusion that I am simply not romance worthy. And I times I feel rather self-pitying about that, even though I suspect I might give off ‘highly demanding’ vibes, rather than appreciating a simple gesture. I obviously very much appreciate the genuine love I have in my life but I’d still like to fantasise that someone would like to do the whole Milk Tray ad for me. But I’m pretty sure no one will ever jump out of a helicopter, break into my bedroom and leave me a box of chocolates. Not without Mabel biting them at least.
So yesterday I put out a call on Instagram for romantic stories and I had a few (although I was a little bit pleased it’s not just me as I also had a number of messages saying ‘Er, no romantic stories to tell…’ ). The following are from all different genders and age groups but the link between these stories seems to answer the question conclusively.
Romance = thoughtfulness.
And being thoughtful is hardly tricky is it? Romance all around please….
“I had a t-shirt that I loved but ruined it in the wash. It was old and no-one stocked it anymore so my husband went on a design your own t-shirt site and made me one. Although it’s not quite the same, the fact that he did it makes it my new favourite!”
“My girlfriend and I had a huge argument and I went off in a strop. I was buying a tube ticket to go home when she suddenly turned up at the station. She didn’t exactly say sorry but I was chuffed she’d run all the way from her flat in bare feet.”
“I was at a bookshop with my partner and wanted to buy a beautiful hardback copy of Eugene Onegin. It was expensive though and I decided not to. When I got to the till to buy my cheap old paperbacks, the woman said “This is yours too,” and handed me the book. He’d bought it for me then got them to keep it until I went to the till. I don’t think he knows what it’s about though!”
“Not really sure what romantic would be. What about being told on a Wednesday that you are getting married a week later? And that after the wedding you were moving straight into a new little home together? The day came, bitterly, freezing cold as it could possibly be and when you got to your new home after the wedding, the bridegroom had been inearly in the morning and lit the woodburner so it was toasty warm, waiting for us.”
“My husband gave me a beautiful eternity ring when I came home after having our first baby. Very traditional but what’s more romantic than diamonds?”
“My most romantic moment was when I saw the man who I was married to for forty years until he died 5 years ago. He moved into the house next door to mine (where I was living with my first husband, oh dear). I was at the front door when I saw this tall thin man in a leather jacket getting off a motorbike and I was instantly smitten. I knew right then that I’d end up marrying him, even though divorcing back then was difficult and people gossiped about us.”
And finally, we have an account (by the man who did it) of a big romantic gesture, complete with tricks and a mystery destination. He also points out the mistakes he made, so you can pass this onto anyone you’re hoping might do the same, as a ‘How to’ guide. Read Jon’s “Don’t pack the heels” here.