Let’s face it – we often glorify the past without putting the full picture into focus. We do this with much of history, but more often than not, we do it with dating and relationships.
We think about our parents’ and grandparents’ generations, and how they had that old school love. The kind of love that has kept them together for 60 years while we can’t seem to tolerate someone for even 60 days.
But reverting back to the way things were in all ways would be pretty bad news. We’d be taking away women’s rights to vote, work, join the Army, and far too many other things. But, we don’t really think about this stuff. We think about the vintage romance we see in movies and TV – and we want that. But…not all the societal norms of the generation.
So, then, how do we “take the cream off the top,” so to speak? How do we (particularly as men) work to bring back romance without being condescending or sexist?
Here’s what romance looks like in the 21st century:
Get the hell off of dating apps
I don’t necessarily mean stop using them – I think some apps and sites can definitely be beneficial and help you leverage your time to meet new people if you’ve got a busy schedule.
What I mean is, don’t spend forever chatting someone up without actually trying to meet them. Pen pals are for elementary school, not for adult dating life. I’ve always said that one of the most important signs to look for when you’re dating someone new is how much they’re willing to invest their time in you. We all have busy lives, and if someone is willing to make spaces in their schedule to see your face, it means they’re serious.
Do not have an ‘end goal’ for dates
We are an instant-gratification society, and we are bringing these desires into our dating lives, as well. We want our apps to download instantly, and our web pages to be loaded before we even click on them. So, naturally, we don’t want to put in real time and effort to build a relationship, either.
Let me tell you something – If your intentions for the evening are to take a woman (or man) home at the end of the night or something of the sort, they will be able to see right through you the entire time. This is a great way to ensure never getting a second date.
It is important to understand that if you are out with the right person, there is no goal or final objective to be pursued Time together is the goal. Sharing an evening together is the objective. Your time together is the entire point, therefore there is no “end” to work towards, because if you do things right, you will be going out again soon anyway.
Start actually saying what you mean
Ah, what a low bar we are setting for what’s romantic these days, no? The truth is, though, we are rapidly losing the ability to fully communicate with each other on a deeper level, which is absolutely required in order to build trust with another person.
Affection and love are results of trust. You cannot love someone you don’t trust, you cannot respect someone you don’t trust, and you certainly cannot commit intimately to someone you don’t trust.
And you can’t trust them if you can’t communicate with them. So, stop leading people on, stop avoiding important topics, stop staring at your phone when you’re together. Converse, dammit.
Stop being a stereotype – start being yourself
Do you know why people are fed up with dating? Because it’s so frustrating and repetitive. It seems as though we’re simply dating cardboard cutouts of each other with different faces. Everything else is predictable and the same.
Do you know why it feels this way? Because we are not projecting our real, genuine selves to each other. We are simply putting on a mask we think we should wear so we can get a second date, and we’re showing up to perform.
I don’t give a shit how many sports games you went to or what you spent on your shoes. I want to hear what you’d do with your days if you didn’t have to work. I want to know what permeates your mind when you’re staring up at the stars. I want to know the last time you did something for the very first time. I want to know who you are.
Be willing to be vulnerable
I can see you cringing, stop it.
Vulnerable? What even is that? It’s not cool, whatever it is.
I’ll tell you what it is – it’s the willingness to be un-apologetically, authentically, you. It’s the willingness to stop trying to choreograph your routine for your date, and just be natural. To say something that scares you, or that makes you feel insecure. To tell someone you were nervous about meeting them before you left your house. To actually show some emotion (but, like, not too much emotion).
Vulnerability is cracking the door open to your private room and letting someone get a peek inside. You are human, after all – yes?
Manners, manners, and more manners
Manners and etiquette are a couple of things that separate us from our primate ancestors. Expectations for how we carry ourselves in order to send a message of respect – both for yourself and for the person(s) in your presence.
Too many people have lost sight of simple manners, but they go a long way when it comes to dating. And if you think they’re not important because nobody pays attention anymore, that’s exactly why they are important.
Understand that chivalry still matters
To the guys – yes, it still matters if you open her door or pull out her chair. It still matters that you walk on the street-side of the sidewalk, and that you pick up the bill (all of it). Why, though, if she can do it all herself anyway?
Because you’re a man, dammit. And as a man, you want to contribute and add value to the life of the woman who you’re interested in. You want to show her your affection by doing nice things for her. You want to do these things because they show that you respect and value her. That you’re willing to put in extra effort for her.
To the women – understand that men who give you these kindnesses are doing it out of love and respect. They are not doing it to take away from your independence or to hint that they don’t think you can take care of yourself.
Men show their affection and love through contribution, and that includes ‘acts of service,’ as well.
Believe that romance still exists
Do you want to know the most important aspect of bringing back romance? Believing that it can still be achieved. That it is still alive. That people still appreciate it. Because the second you begin to believe that you will never find real romance, you will begin to sabotage every situation you find yourself in, and you’ll ensurethat you never find it.
Kiss her in the middle of her sentence. Hook your arm into his when you’re walking together. Play with his hair. Put your hand on her leg. Hold hands. Hug. Kiss. Make love. Create love. Be love.
I believe that regardless of any hard outer shell someone projects, that we all want to be loved, adored, and wanted by another person. While our happiness should come from within, and not from a relationship – the right person will absolutely enhance our lives in unique ways.
The truth is, we can have the best parts of that old school love, if we work to create new school romance.
This article orignally appeared on James Michael Sama’s Blog
Photo credit: Getty Images