Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Love for Sale - Valentine's Eve

Here I am, again posting on Valentine's 'Eve' for another year! The funny thing is, my husband and I don't actually celebrate February14th. Don't get me wrong, we don't consciously avoid it. I have no boycott-type feelings about it at all. But somehow it's not one of our 'special' days - probably because it never figured into our original courtship.

But of course, it's a special day for Romance, so let's celebrate that!

And, as usual, there's a flurry of articles floating around the interwebs regarding romantic love. It always seems to bring out everyone's gripes or applause for Valentine's Day. And along with it comes the big question: WHAT IS ROMANTIC LOVE?

Obviously, this is a question quite important to anyone pursuing a relationship or looking for a partner. But it's also a huge question for Romance writers. What image or theory of love are we infusing into our writing? What 'brand' of love are we selling?

In his article on the BBC website, "Down with Romantic Love", writer Mark Vernon makes his point against the "romantic myth". According to Mark, this myth " that there is someone out there with whom your life will be complete, and conversely, without whom your life would be a half-life."

Okay, so we can toss poor Mark out of the Love Boat and condemn him as he falls overboard. It's easy to feel defensive when someone is critiquing a concept you hold dear! Do I believe that if someone is single, they are living a half-life? Hell, no. Is it possible for two people to become more than the sum of their parts when together? Hell, yes.

The truth is, it's not so black and white as Mark lays out, and I somehow doubt that this ''romantic myth" is nearly so pervasive as he implies. There is a middle ground, and this middle ground is where I intend to remain.

My fear is not so much that too many people will believe in the destructive "romantic myth". My worry is that not enough people in this world believe that true, deep, exciting, long-lasting and 'romantic' love is actually possible. After all, what is 'romantic'? Isn't it something to do with that little thrill you feel when you haven't seen that person for a few hours or days, and you see them walking towards you and you know that they are somehow, irrevocably YOURS? That you share a life, and being in it together makes it more exciting, not less?

I totally agree with Mark when he says that, "Love is made in the gritty ups and downs of being with someone who is as flawed as you." I'm with you there. But that doesn't mean that after years of marriage or partnership that you shouldn't expect there to still be a spark. That when the honeymoon is long over, you should stop yearning for thoughtful gestures and playfulness in your partner.

So here's the sorta love I want to "sell" in my writing...

  • A love that is HOT. There is chemistry. There is steaminess. It's a match so true that even your bodies know you should be together. It's not everything, but it's pretty essential.
  • A love that digs down DEEP and keeps on digging until all the darkness and shadows are out in the daylight and you can sift through them and cry through them and get to the other side. 
  • A love that is REAL. Eyes-open, grounded and made to last.

Not much to ask for, right?

Happy Valentine's Day, Romance - we're not giving up on you yet!

"The best love is the kind that awakens the soul; that makes us reach for more, that plants the fire in our hearts and brings peace to our minds. That’s what I hope to give you forever." – The Notebook

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