They told us it was about flowers and chocolate, made us believe it had something to do with diamonds and lingerie. They led us to believe it needed candlelight, rose petals, and soft music. They lied to us.
Maybe it was deliberate, maybe it was out of their own ignorance. They lied to us about romance.
Miriam-Webster says simply that romance is a love story. Another dictionary says it is a feeling of mystery and excitement associated with love.
So let’s talk about love, real love, and its mysterious elements.
There’s nothing wrong with candles, of course. They’re pretty, they smell good, they set a certain mood. But in my experience, romance happens in the bright light of day.
Romance is when neither of you got much sleep and even tho he can barely keep his own eyes open, your partner makes your coffee before his own.
Love happens under the fluorescent bulbs of a hospital.
When you’re scared of what happens next, but you’ve got someone squeezing your hand, someone reminding you that you’re not alone, letting you know your existence matters.
Love happens in the darkness of night. When there’s a sick kid and your partner tells you to stay in bed and rest, she’ll take care of it.
Romance is when your anxiety keeps you from sleeping and your guy plays with your hair and tells you dumb jokes until you’re feeling better.
Love can be flowers, but it can also be a pile of dirt on the floor that the kids tracked in, a pile of dirt you wife sweeps up so you can have a clean house to come home to. Romance can be a delicious perfume, but it can also come in the form of a dirty diaper when your baby daddy changes the kid without you having to ask him to do it.
Romance can show up as expensive jewelry, but it can also come in the form of a Snickers from the gas station because he knows it’s your favorite.
It can be when she asks the server to refill your drink or orders you extra fries, just because she wants you to be taken care of.
Sometimes it isn’t a pricey gift- it’s the fact that he’s willing to go to work every day, making sure your family is provided for.
Romance can be beautiful song lyrics, but it can also be whispers over the top of a sleeping baby’s head.
Sometimes it’s a meme being sent on your lunch break. It’s a text that says, I know I’ll see you tonight but I miss you right now.
Love is when he brings home dinner so you don’t have to cook. Love is when she constantly takes pictures of you with the kids, because the moments are so special to her she wants to capture them to keep forever.
Sure, lingerie can be romantic and fun, but there’s something to be said for that moment when your hair is in a messy bun, you’re not wearing makeup, there’s spit up and craft glitter on your clothes, and he looks you dead in the eye to say, My god, you’re beautiful.
That is a mystery.
That is love.
It is so easy to get caught up in Hollywood’s idea of romance, and to read so many novels, you lose sight of reality.
There is a time and place for diamonds and chocolates, there’s nothing wrong with a candlelit dinner or lacy undies. But there is something wrong with taking all those other little things for granted, there’s something sad about not doing those little things at all.
They lied to us about romance.
They said it was something that could be bought and manufactured, something that requires dim lighting and mood music and floral arrangements.
They lied to us.
Romance happens in silence and in the midst of noisy children, romance happens inside a coffee cup, without a single flower in sight. Romance happens in the bright light of day and in the middle of the night.
This post originally appeared on Salty Mermaid Entertainment