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Dating From the Inside Out
by Susan S. Davis

Maintaining Romance

In the dating world, one of the hardest things to finesse is being romantic. Too little, and it is often taken as lack of interest. Too much, and it can seem disingenuous, hokey or cheesy.

So, just what is “real” romance, and how can we use it to our advantage within our inter-personal relationships?

Romance has been defined as everything from “a love affair,” “an ardent emotional attachment,” to “a strong, sometimes short-lived fascination, or enthusiasm for something, to a mysterious or fascinating quality or appeal, as of something adventurous, heroic, or strangely beautiful.”


Most would agree that romance, in and of itself, evokes an almost ethereal quality, as it transcends language, race, and ethnicity. This could be why so many people are inexplicably drawn to certain situations and individuals. Classic literature is rife with tales of artistic works, such as novels, stories, films, and other idealized forms of expression.

Romance exists in our culture, a good deal, as almost an anchor for the most intimate of interpersonal relationships. Some of the most successful marriages, give homage to romance, and find it essential for their existence.

It is interesting to note, that in the Bible, Song of Solomon, romance is encouraged, with a poetic description of what an intimate relationship between men and women should be like:

"May he kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! … Draw me after you and let us run together!" Song of Solomon 1:2a, 4a

“How beautiful are your feet in sandals, O prince's daughter! The curves of your hips are like jewels, the work of the hands of an artist. Your navel is like a round goblet, which never lacks mixes wine; your belly is like a heap of wheat fenced about with lilies. Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle … Your stature is like a palm tree, and your breasts are like its clusters. I said, 'I will climb the palm tree, I will take hold of its fruit stalks.' Oh, may your breasts be like clusters of the vine, and the fragrances of your breath like apples, and your mouth like the best wine!" Song of Solomon 7:1-3, 7-9

Historically, when unions were extremely impersonal and marriages were sanctified by the church, arranged by family and culture, purely for political and social purposes, during the Middle Ages, Amour was a very dangerous kind of love and the troubadours were considered as heretics. In addition, they were nearly extinguished in Province, France, the very place their tradition began, during the Albingensian Crusade of 1209 AD, launched by Pope Innocent III.

Prior to Romeo and Juliet, in the 12th Century love story of Tristan and Isolde, she is engaged to marry King Mark, whom she has never even met. Legend has it, that her mother, as an act of kindness, prepared a love potion, intended for King Mark and Isolde on their wedding night. However, prior to the wedding, Tristan and Isolde manage to mistake the potion for wine, drink it, and immediately fall in love. When Isolde’s nurse discovers the error, she warns Tristan, "You have drunk your death."

"If by ‘my death’ you mean this agony of love, that is my life!" responded Tristan, "If by my death you mean the punishment that we are to suffer if discovered, I accept that. And if by my death, you mean eternal punishment in the fires of hell, I accept that too." This ancient story demonstrates that true love is worth suffering for, no matter what the cost. Personal love involves pain and suffering, as seen in other patterns, as well. Potential lovers, for example, get shot in the heart by Cupid. Dante’s Inferno, sees some of history’s greatest lovers in Hell, including Helen, Cleopatra and Tristan. In many of the Arthurian stories, a knight must suffer impossible trials before winning the hand and heart of his Lady in Waiting.

While nowadays, we don’t expect our potential lovers or romantic partners to prove themselves worthy by guarding bridges, there is still a great deal involved in our mating rituals. Today, love is considered so personal and individual, that it has little or nothing to do with the way we get along in our communities, making it an individual experience or feeling, rather than a tribal obligation and responsibility.

Still, the fact remains, that any long-term relationship can get to a point where it may feel as if romance is nonexistent. There are many reasons for this, and in order to avoid the death of romance in a relationship, active steps must be taken to keep the fires burning. One-sided romance is not a solution, so it is necessary for both parties to contribute to the endeavor.

A great way to enliven interest in each other, is to spend some time apart. As odd as it may sound, people become much more interesting if they have a full life outside of the relationship, aside from the fact that it is simply much healthier and that people are more likely to be happier in general, as a result. Spending time apart often also makes the time spent together, that much more special.

Romantic gestures such as flowers and dinners out can get expensive, especially today. Often, more affordable, and even free indulgences, can be just as much, if not more of a treat, than traditional ones. Examples might be sharing coffee or tea and conversation on a weekend morning, at a quaint coffee shop, and picnics and luncheons or dessert breaks, can be even more fun than having dinner.

Other ideas can include putting little notes in handbags or briefcases, lingering with a good-bye kiss, making dates – the more spontaneous, the better, to visit and explore museums, hiking trails or culture events. The point is that romance is created, not necessarily something already manufactured.

Doing something different, or out of the ordinary, can surely capture anyone's attention. Establishing, finding, maintaining, and even rekindling romance within a relationship from new to old, doesn't require a lot of money, or even time. What it does need, first and foremost, is the willingness to do it.

Above all else, it is important to remember that the very purpose of dating, is romance, and vice versa. The very intent to create romance, that most essential, magical part of relationships of all types, can create or put the fire back in most any liaison, which is surely worth the little effort it takes to do it.

Susan S. Davis is a published book author and writer, currently doing research for a romantic screenplay she is writing. Her Dating From The Inside Out column is published every Tuesday.

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