What is Romance? An Exploration of What Romance Means to Polar Opposites

By: Naira and Fadila

Naira:

I’m a softy. I like to convince myself that I am not, but the truth is, I am. I like the idea of finding your soulmate, having someone to share the little things with, and falling for someone so hard that you partially lose your common sense. I love love. I’ve always been so mesmerized by romance novels where two people leave behind all they’ve ever known for each other’s sake. But I always find myself thinking if romance like that exists. And if so how does it feel like? 


It’s absurd to think that that sort of movie screen romance is easy to find. It isn’t, and I know that. But I like to believe that it isn’t impossible. I know for sure that whatever love we’ll get in the real world won’t be picture perfect. It will have its ups and downs but it will be worth it. 


Loving someone can change you completely. It can bring out a side of you that you never thought you had, the romantic side. Your love for that person makes want to make them as happy as possible, and therefore, you find yourself buying stupid meaningless chocolates and gifts that don’t even represent a fraction of your feelings towards them. You want to buy them everything they could ever want but it still doesn’t seem like it’s enough.
Romance makes life better. It adds warmth to our existence. Some may think it’s trivial but the truth is we all long for it, even the ones who deny it. Romance stems from love. No matter how small the gesture is, it conveys a sense of security, comfort. It gives you a sense of serenity and reassurance that you are loved. 


Love would be futile without romance. What good is being in love if you don’t show it? All your feelings would be in vain if you don’t show any affection. Romance is being bold, it is not for the fearful. Romance is courage and effort. 


If you claim you hate romance, you’re probably just too scared to explore it. You don’t want to put yourself out there because there is bravery in vulnerability so it is safer to claim that ‘it’s not your kinda thing’. You hind behind an orchestrated lie so you don’t have to give all you can to the person that means most to you. You think if you really show them how much you love them, they’ll think you’re clingy. You don’t make enough great gestures because you think to yourself that it’s ‘too much’ when really, you’re just scared you’ll do all that and they’ll end up leaving anyway. 

A piece of advice: there’s no such thing as over-loving somebody. There is nothing in the world that should hold you back from manifesting your appreciation to your lover. Don’t hold back from holding their hand. Don’t hold back from calling them after a long day. Don’t hold back from telling them how beautiful you think they look. Don’t hold back from holding them when they need it most. Don’t hold back from giving for there is nothing more freeing than being generous with your tenderness.

Fadila:

I think, for the most part, I’m a person who does not believe in love. Well, not really. I don’t believe in commercial love. Love was never about butterflies or grand gestures to me, love was never Romeo and Juliet, love was never the power Voldemort knows not even. Love to me has always been about two things; respect and compassion. Love is something sacred, it’s precious, so your love should always be kept close to you. Romance is something I’ve only ever entertained whenever I used to “borrow” one of my aunt’s raunchy romance novels and huddle beneath the covers pretending – if only for a few hours – that such “romance” existed. In fact, I think everyone’s belief of what “romance” is and isn’t is why most relationships fail these days. 

You see Travis Scott decking Kylie’s place in flowers. You see Jay-Z worshipping Beyoncé. You see Troy and Gabriella always coming back to one another. You see so much of this commercialized bullshit everywhere, in Netflix originals, movies, books, even podcasts and YouTube for god’s sake! Love is never measured by shitty romantic gestures of “love”. Capitalism fucked over love. Love is not about money. It shouldn’t be about money. It’s not about flowers and dates. Certainly not about how “hot” your partner is. Bluntly, what media tells you is that the ultimate romance is: “female requests love from male, male gives her dates and flowers and 3 AM calls, male requests sex, female gives male sex”. Just go over this again, think slowly about the amount of movies and books you’ve consumed. What do they tell you? It’s all about power. Not Love. 

You know what romance is to me? It’s acceptance. It’s respect. It’s understanding. It’s listening without judging. It’s mutual sacrifice. It’s not just 3 AM calls. It’s 3 PM calls when we’re both busy too. It’s heartfelt gestures – no matter how small. It’s staying in sometimes. It’s talking – not the mindless gossip we see all the time. It’s not a “this for that”. Never. Romance is compassion. Romance is never linear, you’ll have your highs and your lows and that’s ok. Romance is checking up on one another. It’s establishing some sort of connection, not just emotionally or physically – but mentally and spiritually too. This kind of romance can never be toxic. It can never harm you. When you fall in love with someone, fall with your mind first, then your heart. Love is not spoken, I hunger for a love that is deliberately searched for, the kind of love that is not controlled by fear and power, for when power and fear overrule love, we will always believe, despite the toxic romance, that true love never exists. 

You see, we can all fall into the trap of toxic romance, thus we fall into the spiral of fear, despair, and power – we are no longer in the sphere of love. To remain in the sphere of love, to live through “romance”, you have to accept – flaws and all – not just yourself, but your lover too. Don’t confuse accepting them for being blind to their faults. Understand their anger, their pain, their hurt, we’re all damaged, we were all broken at some point, and we’ve all been through some rather shitty experiences, don’t spit on someone else’s pains by not understanding them. If you love someone, you put your energy, effort, and love into them – not materialistic bullshit. You don’t buy them flowers when they’re upset, you listen, you remain there, you figure out what they need, and you give it to them – even if it’s flowers. 

If there’s one thing I can tell you (nope, not the cliche “love yourself first” despite that it’s true), it’s to always know your value.  The point is, don’t devalue yourself when in a relationship, don’t become a doormat. Never allow yourself to be a doormat. Never allow someone to walk over you – not in the name of love – that’s actually a disgrace to love. Love is asking your lover if their breath is ok, it’s always being aware of their growth, it’s pushing them to become better versions of themselves – and that’s NOT through lording over them (@ toxic boys and girls). Most “love” leaves you hardened, battle worn, empty, and usually paranoid. This is not love, which is why I’ll leave you with these few words by Nayyirah Waheed in which she sums up everything I just said/wrote:

” If you are softer than before they came, you have been loved.” 

Nayyirah Waheed, Salt

Wishing you all healing, joy, growth, and love,

Naira and Fadila.

P.S Wait for Part 2!

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