I tend to notice our generation obsessing over popular media and art surrounding romance. Rather than going on dates and really getting to know other people, like in the movies and the books we adore, we sit around, wondering whether or not the person we’re interested in likes us back. Popular culture feeds all hungry romantics with stories of simple chivalry — meanwhile, real life starves us.
My romantic insides may as well purchase a shovel, dig a ditch, climb into a coffin and be buried alive. My generation’s conventions surrounding romance have seriously aggravated my romantic side to this point.
We all know that exciting feeling we get when we receive a text from the person we’ve been into, but it’s slowly becoming the only acceptable way to start a relationship. And the list of rules gets longer everyday: We are allowed to act interested, but not too interested, but just interested enough to keep the other party around.
I’m the girl who was raised with the persistent story that my grandparents met at age ten, went on their first date at age 13 and never dated anyone else. They’ve been married for over 40 years, and their relationship defined romance for me as a young girl.
Every time I watch “The Notebook,” I find myself wondering when a boy will hang off a ferris wheel just to ask me out on a date (the answer here is “never”). I watch “Friends” and wonder if I’ll find someone as loyal to me as Ross is to Rachel.
Every musical I’ve ever seen leaves my romantic head in the clouds — television shows and movies pour romantic narratives into the world. I am left to wonder if the stories we are told actually ever happen in real life.
My grandparents story might as well be made into a movie because it is as rare an occurrence as any of the fictional stories we’re fed everyday. I think back to the time when it wasn’t viewed as “pushy,” “annoying” or “too soon” to simply ask the person you’re interested in out to dinner or to see a movie.
We are putting off the constructs of matrimony longer than they did, or else avoiding it completely. But the desire to be independent and free does not need to conflict with the old fashioned ideas of infatuation and chivalry that we seem to stray so far from today. We are all still lost in the pages of a romance book and engrossed in the scenes of a romantic movie –– we just don’t replicate these same love narratives we internalize.
It is inevitable to want an intimate person in our lives, and it has become increasingly difficult to find real relationships with social media as a mediator. Social constructs and our ideas of love may have changed over time, but the human heart has not.
My romantic insides will not take any drastic measures yet. I may accept the title “hopeless romantic,” but the good news is that title is a little misleading. We must all continue seeing these movies, reading these books, watching these shows. There may be false hope, but that should not mean these narratives are impossible. I am not hopeless; I am hopeful. The love hasn’t gone anywhere — it’s out there, and we just have to be willing to embrace it.