Love is in the air, or so they tell us, as Valentine’s Day approaches. Some of you may think the day is the perfect opportunity to make a grand declaration of love, whilst others might think it the perfect excuse for hibernation; either way this Friday is the most romantic day of the year. But is romance really all it’s cracked up to be?
Growing up being forced to watch hour after hour of romcoms by my sister (who seemed to think that being older meant she had the monopoly on the DVD player) might have made me slightly cynical about the Hollywood notion of romance. As Meg Ryan, Tom Hanks, Hugh Grant or some other weepy eyed love interest fumbled their way to the inevitable conclusion of “happy ever after” I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. Why would meeting at the top of the Empire State Building guarantee a lifetime of happiness?
Now that I am older, and not purely motivated by being an annoying little sister, I can see that romcoms have their place but they do provide us with an unrealistic expectation of what future romances might be like. If we look at these films cynically for a moment, is it really the stuff of great love to be chased through an airport or is it actually a fickle guy who should have made his mind up earlier? If the guy standing outside your window serenading you was more Martin Clunes than George Clooney would you find it romantic or creepy enough to call the police? Big gestures and declarations of love might seem glamorous on the big screen but in real life aren’t those kind of things just a bit embarrassing? I’ve always thought that these romcoms finish just as the story is really getting started, after all, does one grand gesture really mean that much when ten years later you are sitting at home on a Saturday night with two kids upstairs and the remains of a take away in front of you arguing over who is going to do the washing up? Maybe true romance is being able to still love someone after tripping over their dirty socks for the hundredth time or being able to spend all day together in sweatpants and no make-up and still fancy each other.
Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity to treat your loved one but let’s not forget that sometimes it is the small gestures that actually mean the most. Everyone likes to feel special and I’m not suggesting that we should give up on romance, but maybe as we get older we should recognise it for what it is; anyone can buy you flowers but would anyone know that when I ask for one biscuit I actually want two? My husband does and that is just one of the many reasons why I love him. Maybe I’m not such a cynic after all.
By Samantha Vandersteen