Ah, romance. The stuff seemingly only found in history books and black and white movies where men wore three-piece-suits and called women “darling.”
An era not without flaws, of course, and it’s easy to see that society has evolved in strides even throughout the past few decades, but it’s arguable that not everything has been an improvement.
Relationships, for example, seem more volatile and fragile than ever. People are not committing to…well…anything, really. We are living in a disposable society where we are always looking for the next upgrade – and we are bringing that mindset into our relationships.
We certainly cannot place the blame on one, two, or even a few specific circumstances for the decline of romance, but I think that some societal trends can shed some light on the issue and give us some hints about how to improve things:
1. We are taking less pride in work.
Sure, those who become successful and climb to the top of their professional ladders, or create amazing startups, and have life-changing ideas, value the payoff of overcoming challenges and putting in work to get what you want.
But, for the most part, society seems to be getting more demanding and less willing to work for what is being demanded. Everything is so accessible these days, you can open an app on your phone to immediately get essentially whatever you want (even dates). So, this is creating a pattern where we are used to things popping in (and out) of our lives.
Older generations built things with their hands – things that lasted. They fixed their own cars, which they kept for decades. They renovated their houses, which they lived in for decades. They maintained the things that they had, including their relationships. And when you consistently maintain something, it lasts.
2. We have no idea what our roles are anymore.
Here it comes, the controversy. I’m certainly not suggesting that we go back to a “women belong in the kitchen” mindset – I’ve been writing for nearly 5 years to encourage universal respect and equality, but we must recognize that being equal does not mean being the same.
Men and women have natural, biological differences that we have developed over millions of years of evolution. We have unique tendencies and strengths that allow us to fit together as puzzle pieces (not just physically…)
We are pushing so hard for equality between the genders that we are stripping away the beautiful things that make us different from each other – so we have no idea how to act in a dating scenario. Is she going to think I’m opening this door because she can’t do it herself? She makes more money than I do, should I still pay the bill?
One of the things from the past that allowed relationships to flourish, was that men and women understood the traditions for how the process worked, and they followed it. It was almost like coloring in the lines – and now we’ve taken the lines away.
3. We’re not actually talking about it.
One of the reasons why I started the New School Romance podcast is to open up the lines of communication about these issues, and talk about how we can bring romance back – and why we should.
It seems as though men and women are spending so much time talking about each other that they’re not actually taking the time to talk to each other. To learn each other’s wants, needs, desires – not just in relationships, but in life.
I believe that more problems than not, are able to be solved through open and honest communication. And if we just talked (and listened) more, think of how much better we could be.
4. We look for fulfillment in the wrong places.
Our image-based society tells us every day that we need more stuff to be happy. More things. Better abs. Nicer cars. Bigger houses. More likes, more followers. More, more, more.
The problem with more, is that it will always exist. When you have a million dollars, you’ll want two million (I’m guessing). Now – in a lot of ways, this drive is what makes us successful in life, but if we carry this over into our relationships we will always be looking at things from the surface.
We are dating around and swiping left and right, thinking that we can’t just choose one person, because we might be able to find someone better in a couple of weeks, so why settle down, right? The reality is that we are looking in the wrong places for fulfillment – it comes from within. And once we understand that, we can work to cultivate it in ourselves and subsequently create a lifestyle we may eventually want to share with someone.
When that happens, we will be willing and able to put in the effort to build a solid foundation with them.
5. We ignore what isn’t valued around us.
I can’t tell you how many times I have seen, heard, or experienced – people be rude to those trying to help them.
I interviewed dating expert DeAnna Lorraine on New School Romance, and she told me about a story she heard where a woman was changing a flat tire on the side of the road, and a man pulled over to help her, but she snapped at him and told him that she could do it herself (even though she wasn’t having any luck). So, he went about his day, probably feeling unwanted and unappreciated.
I think we do this a lot in life, maybe even without realizing it. We are so individualized and caught up on the idea that accepting anything from anyone puts you in a position of weakness, that we have even stopped accepting kindness from others. This, in turn, discourages people from actually being kind, and the cycle continues.
Now, I maintain the position that genuinely kindhearted people should never stop being kind, because it’s simply in their nature and it doesn’t matter whether or not it’s appreciated. But, it’s still exhausting to continue giving yourself to others and feeling unappreciated.
If men don’t think that women value romance, then men aren’t going to be romantic. Both genders need to step their game up in this area – we all need to start putting in more effort, and we all need to stop accepting less than we deserve.
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