Some of the most romantic moments in fiction include big, sweeping gestures, like flying someone to the other side of the world on a whim, but most are tiny moments of private expression, such as holding onto the button from someone's coat, just because you can't stop thinking about him or her. These collected moments are what keep romance readers returning for more, and what keeps a healthy relationship thriving.
Romance novels can teach you that romance itself is not merely a single gift or a gesture, and it sure isn't just knockin' boots. Romance doesn't even guarantee a happy ending—anyone who has been through a bad breakup can tell you that, myself included. It's not chocolate or hearts, diamonds or roses, yachts or airplanes. It's not the gesture itself that creates the romance. It's the motivation behind the gift or action, no matter what time of year it arrives.
Romance can include sex but it is not just sex. So that itchy uncomfortable g-string you think would be the hottest thing since hot was invented? Maybe not. Romance is when it's Not All About You. It's valuing someone else's happiness as much as, if not above, your own, and doing something merely to make that person happy. It's not getting some; it's giving some. Em & Lo: How To Be Romantic
Romance also means routine maintenance. You change the oil in your car and put gas in the tank because you don't take your car's function for granted. It needs fuel and care to get going. Neither should you take the most important people in your life for granted. Those relationships need care and fuel as well, through appreciation and acknowledgement. It can be as simple as saying "Please" and "Thank you." For example: Please know that your being here makes me happy. Thank you for making me smile.
But regardless of how it is expressed, romance is truthful, and it is timeless because of that authenticity. Romance is making sure that your someone knows he is loved without any requests or expectations of change. Keeping Romance Alive
To date, the most romantic words I've ever read weren't from a novel, but were from an anniversary card sent to a woman I knew when I was a young girl. Her husband sent it on their tenth anniversary, and she'd kept the card for more than 60 years. This year marks the tenth anniversary of my own marriage, and I've found no better expression than this man's inscription to his wife:
"Ten years with you is like ten minutes. Ten minutes without you is like ten years."
May your relationships be constructed of moments like these because, in real life just as in fiction, we all deserve to live happily ever after.
Sarah Wendell is co-founder and current mastermind behind Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, one of the top romance novel review and discussion sites online—for those seeking heuristic explorations of female sexual agency and bodacious man titty in narrative prose.