A few days ago I was chatting with a friend about Jordan Peterson, the Canadian celebrity psychologist/author. We were chatting specifically about Dr. Peterson’s take on romance: “Work diligently to maintain the romance in your relationships. People love attention and rewards more than anything. So, an extraordinarily positive thing that you can do for your partner is to pay attention to them throughout the day; reward them with your words or with a gesture when they’ve done something good. Be inventive. As long as you do that, you’ll see that they’ll return the rewards in kind and your romantic connection will thrive.”
Amen, sir. Amen.
It all seams pretty simple, right? Kinda like the 5 Love Languages which, when studied even briefly, make perfect (and logical) sense. So my question is – IF it is all so simple, WHY do so many couples lose the romance when they get a few years in?
I am reminded of my former beau T. Even at the beginning of our liaison, T wasn’t what I would call a “professional romancer” but as the months wore on, his efforts dwindled to virtually non-existent. Rather than get stroppy and petulant about it, I decided to take a more pragmatic approach. The one thing I knew about T is that he loved checklists. What chores do I need to accomplish this weekend? What must I pick up from the liquor store? What needs to be purchased at Canadian Tire? T was fastidious and didn’t want to forget anything.
Except romance. He frequently (bordering on always) forgot romance. He forgot to say, “I love you” (unless I said it first). He forgot to hold my hand when we were sitting on the sofa watching a movie. He forgot to randomly (as in, for no reason) bring me flowers. He forgot to check in during the day because he either forgot or was “busy working.”
Now don’t get me wrong. T showed up on the big occasions (Christmas, birthdays and Valentine’s) with cards and gifts and some of them were quite inspired. It was the everyday romance that dwindled to the point of extinction.
So I (in my ever-astute brilliance) decided a checklist was in order. If a checklist helped with everyday life, why would it not help with romance?
- Please every now and then tell me you love me … like, out of the blue.
- Please send me a little text every day, just to let me know you’re alive.
- Please bring flowers (or chocolate or anything unexpected) every now and then just to let me know you care about me and like making me smile.
There were a few other simple (and inexpensive) gestures on that checklist and I thought it was all pretty straightforward and “manly”. As in “You don’t have to read my mind about any of this stuff, honey … I’ve made it super easy!”
T blew a gasket. T told me in no uncertain terms that the reason he was NOT romantic with me was that he absolutely would NOT subscribe to some checklist! Romance should never be pressure! It should be born of free will and desire and spontaneity and passion! NO WAY was he going to be checking anything off my list anytime soon, thank you very much!
Okay … except T, honey, you haven’t been checking anything off ANY list that I am aware of. I mean, in the romance department. We’re just living like roommates who share a bed and have sex sometimes.
That relationship did not last.
So my question is – what is better?
- Silent desperation and futile hope that your beloved will suddenly read your mind and sally forth with romantic gestures galore?
- Quiet (yet obvious) sulking that you are feeling ignored?
- A checklist to make everyone’s life easier?
- An abandonment of all thoughts and gestures romantic because, after all, we are old and those days are behind us?
I believe that since we only have one romantic connection in our life (at least that is the norm), we should WORK to make it thrive. Just as Dr. P suggests. Romance left to the fairies will probably end up residing in fairy-tale land. As in – NON-EXISTENT. I’d like to believe I have always been willing to do the work. Maybe because I am a romantic.
What about you?
Do you want to pay attention? Do you want to reward kind gestures? Do you WANT romance to thrive? And if a wee checklist helps with that, are you okay with the assistance?
Please do weigh in … truthfully. I’m all ears.
Well, that’s not exactly true either. I’m all heart … but my ears (and eyes) are wide open.