This might come as a surprise to some people, but I’m a romantic – an incorrigible, enthusiastic romantic – which is why I’m not into Valentine’s Day.
While flowers and chocolates are lovely, getting showered with pretty tokens on February 14th has never felt particularly romantic to me…or rather, it’s never felt appreciably more romantic than, say, flowers on a random Tuesday or splitting a bottle of champagne in a month that isn’t February. (For the record, I will drink champagne for no reason at all. Champagne is its own reason to drink champagne).
That said, Valentine’s Day is a serious thing for a lot of people, but rather than focus on “gifts that will earn you boyfriend status” or keep you “out of the doghouse”, I’d like to look at what makes something romantic rather than obligatory. I want to consider what it is that romance signifies at its most wonderful, powerful best: understanding, connection and affinity.
Last week, I did a post in which I asked people to tell me what romance is to them. I got answers that ranged from the overtly sexual to the beautifully poetic. Erotica writer and artist, Tabitha Rayne, said that, for her, “a handwritten letter or poem left in a place that, if they didn’t know me so well, I would miss it,” is truly romantic, while @5amWriterMan left me a list of fantastically sexy ideas that ranged from “staring and smiling at me with hunger and tenderness in his eyes while he’s balls deep inside me” to “holding the door open for me when we visit our favourite sex shop”.
The theme that connects these comments, (and yes, I realize that my sample size is tiny and biased), is that the romantic-ness of the gesture – be it a handwritten letter or a trip to a favorite sex shop – relies on the intimacy of mutual understanding. You can’t leave her a note if you don’t know where she’d be likely to find it, just as being fucked in a way that lets you know exactly how much he loves you is different than getting fucked in any other way. In both cases, the romance reflects the couple’s connection, their understanding of each other, and the fact that they are in sync.
In other words, affinity = romance.
That’s why a well-timed cock shot can be just as romantic as a candlelit dinner, depending on the couple. Groping each other during a stolen lunch hour? Sure. Long, leisurely wax-play session? Of course. Watching sports together with a bottle of wine? Absolutely. A video of him coming for you, or of you coming for him? Without a doubt. All fantastically romantic – so as long as it’s something you know you both share. It’s all about the small, casually intimate things that tell you your partner is mad about you on any given day; those things are far more important than what happens on February 14th.
In the end, my issue with Valentine’s Day has more to do with how it’s marketed than it does with the sentiment behind it. After all, it’s a day devoted to expressing love, and that’s a pretty wonderful thing. What makes it problematic for me is how prescriptive we’ve gotten, (thanks to media setting our expectations), about how that love “should” be expressed. Rather than focusing on the specific dynamic you have with your partner, it’s easy to get caught up in hype and false claims, ie: if he truly cares, he’ll do X on this very particular day.
Needless to say, I’m not a fan of that paradigm. It has an air of judgment about it – there’s a hoop, (one often determined by how much money is spent or how “good” the gift is), and that hoop must be jumped. All too often feelings get hurt if it isn’t jumped successfully. That’s a recipe for unhappiness and disappointment, which is why that sort of goal-oriented gift giving is, for my money, the opposite of romance. It’s more to do with checking a box or assuaging status anxiety than it is to do with you as a couple, because the stakes are unnaturally high on Valentine’s Day. The perception of romance become a test of a relationship and, as a measure, it is empirically flawed and not entirely fair.
So, what’s romantic to me? It depends. My idea of romance changes drastically depending on who I’m with. It could be anything from bringing me tea in bed to going prowling together. There’s so much room for romance in everything from the hottest sex to the quietest moment.
More than anything, I love spontaneous expressions of happiness – signs that my partner is happy to be with me. Very often, these expressions are sexual rather than traditionally romantic, but not exclusively so. In fact, the sort of romance I like best mixes the wholesomely sweet with the abjectly filthy. Do you want me? Value me? Love me? Show me – not with roses on Valentine’s Day, but with an intense, massively connected, conspiratorial fuck. That’s why a blow-job on Christmas morning can be just as romantic as bacon brought to you when you really need it, so long as it’s the product of a genuine connection physically expressed for the benefit of the person you love.
In the end, you can hold the roses and take the thorns, or buy your partner a hothouse full of flowers. What matters most is that the gesture be rooted in the connection you share. Filthy, sweet, kinky or traditional, let whatever you do, (or don’t do), tomorrow honestly reflect the joy you take in each other. That’s the good stuff – the real romantic stuff. It’s the stuff you share. That’s what makes me a hopeful romantic.