We all know that men and women are very different; not only is communication near impossible but our ideas on romance are entirely different. If you take a guy to a football game for your anniversary and hand a beer to him before the bubbles have even settled to the bottom of the cup, he's in heaven. But women want to be wined and dined. They want flowers and gifts and loving words whispered in their diamond-twinkling ears. Is there an explanation for this difference of opinion?
Sociologists believe that this may be contributed to none other than: romance novels. In the 18th century, romantic poetry was one way to seduce a woman. It was romantic and somewhat bawdy as it was meant more for loose women than for actually courting (the 18th century term for dating) a woman. But once Jane Austen and other romance novelists hit the scene, it seems men were doomed to failure. The language of flowers was introduced, a red rose meant passion and a yellow rose was for friendship. And the tragic hero became a firm installation in women's fantasies.
Today, the romance genre is the single most popular genre purchased. But maybe there is another reason why women are buying more of these "dime novels". Our society has also seen a steep increase in divorce over the past quarter century. Money, they say, is the main reason that almost half of marriages fail today. How does one obtain money? Working of course! More and more Americans today are working more in order to obtain financial security in these unsure times. And when a man works overtime, what tends to be sacraficed? The relationship!
It is my own opinion that yes, romance novels have built up women's expectations on their love lives. They expect relationships to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds (the story line of the pauper who was tortured by amnesia, just to find that his grandfather found him wandering the streets and he is actually a millionaire, and therefore acceptable to marry), they expect men to change, and they expect that happily ever after.
It is even said that women build up fantasies in their heads that are in direct relation to reading a romance novel. For example, Shauna goes to a bar and meets Mark. They have an amazing conversation and the attraction is mutual. After a few days of texting, Shauna is smitten. And you know why? She has fantasized about the relationship straight down to the romantic proposal at a pond with weeping willows leaning down to witness this romantic interlude, a fat diamond ring on her finger. In this fantasy, Mark is so overwhelmed with gratitude and undying love that he picks Shauna up into an embrace and swings her around. And then Shauna is disappointed when Mark ditches her to watch a hockey game with his friends. When Mark and Shauna get into an argument about Mark's supposed abandonment.
But it is not just these romantic fantasies that have complicated a relationship. It is the fact that we are not taking enough time to show each other how important the other is in our lives. We think that the relationship will just work on its own and that effort doesnt have to be put into it. But like all types of relationships, romance needs work. To make an analogy, look at it as a business relationship. You have to get to know the person, quirks and all, in order to make the best deal or business alliance. You investigate the company and the people you are working with, you take them out to dinner and see where they want their own company to go. Its the same with a romantic relationship. Time and effort must be made in order of the relationship to not only be sustainable, but to grow.
All these factors (busy lifestyles and romantic expectations) tend to ruin your love lives. So here's some tips on how to avoid this.
1. Take the time to do something together once a week. Even if its just sitting at home cuddling and watching a rom-com, you are spending quality time together. Open up a nice bottle of wine and eat dessert. Talk about everything except work. Dont even think about work! This is time to spend with your boyfriend or girlfriend outside of all that stress. Enjoy yourself.
2. Catch yourself when you are starting to fantasize. I've been caught doing this as well, so its a common mistep with women. You see the potential in someone and you love the good side of them. But like all the rest of humanity, he is not perfect. The best advice I can give is to figure out if you are able to work with his flaws. If you absolutely cannot stand him biting his nails and its a deal breaker for you, know that, for the most part, men will not change for anyone but themselves. So walk away and find someone who you can work with
3. Validate the relationship. And I do not mean saying "I love you" every thirty seconds. When you do that, it tends to become routine and doesnt really mean much in the end. Validate the relationship with little gestures. And this is not just a suggestion for men. Women are completely responsible for this as well. You cannot expect men to validate your worth and their feelings for you when you are not doing the same. Tell him he looks amazing in that suit, buy him a pack of beer when you know he's having a bad week. Offer him a safe place so that he wants to plan something for you and doesnt just feel obligated to do so.
Remember that relationships are a two way street. And if you want a guy to treat you in a certain way, stop fantasizing about what could be and work on perfecting what actually is.