He Said, She Said: Is Your Man Romantic Enough?

romance man woman
Buzz, Love

Romance: How much do you need? Do most women want more romance in their relationships?

JENNY: When my boyfriend Howard and I wrote our book, Women are Crazy, Men are Stupid, we had a great format that worked well for both of us. Howard started the chapter—or, as I told him, "He led the way"—and I got to finish the chapter—or, as he says, I got to have the last word.

To tell you the truth, I thought this book would break us up. I was against writing it from the get-go, and we actually had a few fights about it. Relationships are hard enough as it is; why pile on the additional pressure of dissecting yours for all the world to see? After we discussed it (loudly) for almost a week, I realized that maybe it would be fun (doubtful) or, better yet, romantic to write a book together. Thoughts of us on a park bench, my head in his lap, as we discussed each chapter filled my head. 9 Things I Learned About Women From Editing Maxim

As it turned out, writing the book wasn't so romantic. It was really hard, and romance remains the number one topic on our metaphorical "relationship plate." And even though Howard does wonderful little things, like hold my popcorn at the movie theater (and he doesn't even eat it!), we've still discussed, analyzed, fought, laughed and fought some more over romance so many times, it's the bane of our existence.

And we're not alone. I've said it a thousand times: Romance is the number one issue in relationships where women feel dissatisfied. Sure, that's a sweeping generalization, but I'm pretty sure if you give me fifteen minutes alone with any woman, I could get her all riled up about romance. "What? He never makes you breakfast in bed? What? It was a decade ago since you've gotten flowers? What? He can spend twenty minutes rubbing the dog's belly, but never yours?" 

As a woman, I want more romance. I want him to make my toes curl. I want him to do that thing that I will remember years from now and it will make me smile. I want that ten minutes of the romantic movie when he's breaking a sweat over the thought of losing me and he's willing to do pretty much anything for me.

Sure, maybe my expectations are too high, but ask me if I care. Why should I settle? Everyone who tells you that stuff only happens in the movies is just bitter that it's not happening to them. Why can't it happen in real life?

Howard, here's your chance to have the last word. Make me understand.

HOWARD: Oy! What man can compete with Hugh Grant in Four Weddings and a Funeral or Notting Hill, where, if you recall, he wandered through all the different seasons pining for Julia Roberts!? You know how all of those romantic movies end with a guy running to the airport, or running after the girl of his dreams, because he almost let her get away? How many opportunities are there in life for that sort of thing?

(Sound effects: Jenny leaving, running down the stairs, followed by a car screeching off.)

HOWARD: Apparently, I have one of those opportunities now.

JENNY: I'm kidding. But, in my opinion, waiting for the opportunity is totally the wrong idea—so passive. Why not sweep me off my feet proactively? Why wait for the sound of tires? Navigate the Fine Line Between Sappy And Romantic

HOWARD: Why not sweep ME off my feet and whisk me off somewhere on a white horse named Passion?

JENNY: Is that what you want?

HOWARD: Of course not. Romance to me is ordering in and nodding off.

JENNY: And men wonder why women like romantic movies?

HOWARD: Fine, I'll get you flowers. But back to my thing about Hugh Grant. When women watch Hugh, they emerge all doe-eyed and star-struck, and then are disappointed in the man most of us will never be. It makes me want to scream. The real Hugh admits he's nothing like the sweet characters he plays in those Richard Curtis movies! For god's sakes, he was arrested for soliciting a hooker on Sunset Blvd! 4 Bad Dating Habits Learned From Romantic Comedies

But then I remember the two things I've learned about romance over the three years I've been with Jenny:

1. Everyone has their own definition of it.

2. Me getting defensive is never a good thing (and usually ends badly—for me).

Getting defensive about romance and lashing out at the person who wants more of it is one's surest way to the doghouse. And getting defensive also keeps one from hearing when the other person is telling you they really want.

And I keep holding her popcorn. At least I've learned something.

JENNY: So maybe we did get something out of writing the book!

HOWARD: Absolutely. The first step is to understand. And it's a big step. Now we need to turn that understanding into action. And we're still working on the subject. Jenny and I are writing a TV pilot for ABC using the same title as our book, Women are Crazy, Men are Stupid and, in the show, the Howard character is trying to understand romance. At the end of the show, the TV Howard really gets it, big time. He pulls off this amazing romantic gesture, which all the women at the network swooned over when they read the script.

JENNY: And guess who came up with that grand romantic gesture? Me!

HOWARD: Yes, but I KNEW it was romantic when you said it!

JENNY: It's in you, baby. I know it's there. One thing I'll give Howard is that he never stops trying.

HOWARD: And what's more romantic than that?

JENNY: Okay, there are like three hundred things, Howard. But I can work with trying! If a guy is really trying, you have to cut him some slack. But if your man isn't trying, just cut him. And I totally recognize that there's a fantasy element to this need for romance that I have, but that doesn't stop me from wanting it. 7 Phrases Men Love To Hear

HOWARD: Which is why I'll never stop trying.

JENNY: You're the best, babe.

HOWARD: No, you.

This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission from the author.