I just metaphorically threw up because my friends were telling me about their love lives and the cute things they experience with their significant other. But, being the gentlewoman I am, I covered up the metaphorical barf with a pillow and continued to listen with a keen interest.
After years of watching my love life sit in isolation, accumulating dust and growing a filmy layer of mold, I now know the reason for my past unsuccessful relational endeavors: a feeling of opposition when it comes to conventional romance.
For those of you who are with me on this – and I know you’re out there – just know that it is OK to not buy into the overwhelming and oftentimes sickening idea of traditional love affairs.
I’ve had a subconscious intolerance for romance from a young age and am just now coming to terms with it. Nothing makes my soul cringe quite like the thought of a boy bringing me red roses and a box of chocolates. And quite frankly, I’d rather duct tape my legs together and hop through 10 miles of glass shards than receive any “good morning, beautiful” texts (apologies to all you men who’ve been after my digits).
You’re probably thinking, “Zara, you have the baking skills of a potluck-hosting grandmother and a Honda Civic that gets 36 MPG. How audacious of you to complain!” You are right. But I am not the only one who views romance through such a cynical lens. My friend, Clarissa, whose opinion on romance we will revisit more in-depth later on, compares her love life to rotting roadkill — trampled on and abandoned in the middle of the street. Yet she is certain that one day, a man will happen upon it and view it as the best dinner he has ever seen. Weirdly enough, this leads me to the point I’m trying to make.
Romance is not universal. Just like people have different ideas about what is considered attractive, there are varying opinions on what is “romantic.” Google it for yourself and see that there are many trying to figure out this confusing facet of life. If you want my opinion — which you just might because you clicked on this column — I believe that what is considered to be romantic is 100 percent dependent on the individuals involved. One person’s roadkill is the other person’s wish come true.
As a consumer of pop culture, the recurring theme of expressive and dreamy love have been drilled into my head, and still proves to be unrealistic. Either you are the awkward yet lovable character who is too shy to admit they want to fall in love, or you’re the innocent cowgirl who rides horses through the meadow with the cowboy and then kiss passionately against a pickup truck.
This leaves very little wiggle room for the rest of us.
Now, this is not to put down those who are in relationships with the romance language of singing original love songs and winning stuffed unicorns for each other at the carnival. If you find these love offerings to be romantic, all power to you. But not everyone wants to be serenaded or driven up a mountain to stargaze at night.
To prove my point, I assembled my cohort of friends and coworkers — some single, some not — and asked for their opinions on this topic. These are their varied responses:
“Having a good conversation or a good laugh is romantic because you feel connected to the person on an intellectual level. It’s more vulnerable, personal and intimate than giving someone a gift.” -Kelsey W.
“I like when someone is willing to spend time with me doing ordinary things. They still love you and value you in the mundane.” -Hannah D.
“For me personally, I really value quality time. I think a lot of it is a demonstration of how much you value that person. I don’t know, I don’t think about it much.” -Matthew M.
“I would probably cringe if a guy showed up on my doorstep with flowers in hand and a cheese-ball smile lighting up his face.” -Mckenzie C.
“Romance is a social construct created by the white man to put me down.” -Kendall M.
“I’d rather dress up like ‘Lord of the Rings’ characters and reenact the films than Netflix and chill.” -Clarissa D.
You see, romance can be much more than its stereotype of showing up on the front stoop with a giant teddy bear and some wilted roses from King Soopers. Everyone has a different love language, and hopefully you find a companion who speaks the same one as you. And for the record, the way to my heart is Cafe Mex. Sweet corn and onion with creamy jabanero, because I’m a vegetarian.
Collegian columnist Zara DeGroot can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @zar_degroot.