I’ve been with my partner for 10 years and we have had moments that could be deemed romantic, but neither of us have been ones for demonstrative and cringe-worthy displays. This may be because my husband respects the fact that I grew up with a single mother after my dad left when I was 6, meaning I’ve never been one expecting happy-ever-afters. As she continued working in her full-time profession whilst raising my sister and me, I grew to realise how important it is to smash the stereotypical gender roles in relationships.
I saw soppy romance as a way of encouraging women to believe their sole aim is to find their “perfect man”, who through all the many romantic gestures, would provide them with their “perfect” life, simply by being with them. I believed this completely promoted the domesticity of women. Then again, I’ve always been one to over-think. So, being someone who has never been an advocate of 50s style romance or gaudy, cliché-riddled romantic movies (give me a doomed, but gutsy, Heathcliff and Cathy love any day), why am I beginning to ponder whether romance is dead and why does this actually concern me?
Romance is changing
We are in a time where we have the world at our fingertips with smartphones and access to the internet; a society of lower attention spans and a need for instant gratification. When people can ping over a quick message or just swipe on an app like Tinder to connect them with a person they like the look of, why would they put in the hard work and commitment of wooing someone? The fact that 58% of people said they could not go a day without checking their smartphone, compared to 28% of people who said they could not go 24 hours without speaking to their partner, says it all.
With the over-sharing that occurs on an abundance of social media platforms, the ins and outs of almost anyone’s life are easily observable, and we don’t always realise that we are viewing every aspect of the post through a glossy filter with everything exaggerated for more likes and followers. It is unsurprising that there are such unrealistic expectations with #RelationshipGoals that people believe they will never be able to reach – so why bother making the effort?
Now to more sinister aspects of the death of romance: there is an undeniable impact on relationships of a porn-obsessed, sex-fuelled culture, in conjunction with growing pressures from media and social media. A recent study has shown that sexual activity in schools has become the norm, with MPs now having to investigate the mounting allegations of sexual harassment and sexual violence within them. When children as young as 7 have been caught sexting, I admit I hanker for the innocence of the old-fashioned courtship my grandparents had.
Whilst I do believe the grand gestures (frankly unnecessary in my opinion) that go hand-in-hand with romance are dying out, romance can ultimately be boiled down to being about emotion. This is what we should not allow to die. Romance should be all about one word – respect – and we should fight for this to stay alive.