Patchwork Romance – Thoughts on the Term „RZB“/“Romantic Couple-Relationship“

„RZB/Romantische Zweierbeziehung“ – „Romantic Couple-Relationship“ – … I keep hearing/reading that term whenever „open“ and „normative/classical“ models of relationships are discussed (in German language) … And I can‘t help but being skeptical about it.

… Romance … What even is romance? What’s romantic?
There’s a lot of clichés coming to my mind (including a latent feeling of disgust, obligation and plastic flowers), as well as a bunch of little things I do feel romantic about, but don‘t match what’s commonly regarded to be ‚romantic‘.
It’s quite difficult to say what the ‚essence‘ of romantic things is … but maybe that’s just the refreshing, unique, precious part about it.

Romantic is something that you do just to show the other person(s) you care about them and make them feel appreciated. It emerges from the effort you take to reveal them your love (no matter what kind of love that is). Romantic is something that shows you think about that person while they are not present – that they are present to you and that you give thoughts to what they like, what could make them smile, basically who they are (to you). About what connects the both (or more) of you and what enforces, symbolizes, is central to your relationship. Romantic is something you do just to express the unique preciousness of your relationship and that you care enough about it to “waste” your time, your energy, your thoughts, (maybe your money, but I don‘t want to stress it that much) on it – on you, to make you feel loved.

So, romantic gestures are defined by their intents (and things might be understood or mistaken as [non-] romantic gestures by the other person).

And their “shape” totally depends on the relationships and the involved people; their likes, their shared experiences, dreams, the things they do together or would like to, the setting of their lives and meetings, any aspects important to one or all of them and anything they enjoy(ed) together or whatever reminds them of each other.
- Yes, romantic gestures can be almost any action, thing, words or symbols and their (full) meaning and importance will most likely only be recognized and understood by the ones involved … And isn‘t that the exciting part about it? Unexpected gifts, valuable only to you … Joys you can‘t buy nor order …

Now … does the term “romantic couple-relationship” express, that these relationships are based (solely) on romantic intents (not sure yet what that means) or consist mainly of romantic gestures? Although couples are “supposed” to show romantic gestures (institutionalized at least at occasions like birthdays, anniversaries or – depending on the social context – Valentine’s day) and I guess lots of them (try to) actually do that … I‘m still skeptical about the term. On a pragmatic view, a couple-relationship is based on/held up by much more than just a romantic attitude (e.g. as it often serves as an institutionalized resource of company, body/sexual contact, emotional/financial/… support, organizing daily life together/split work, … just to name some common implications regarding couple-relationships).
On the other side, the term might as well imply that romance and romantic gestures are exclusively part of a couple-relationship.
Well, bluntly speaking: I don‘t think so!

I have strong romantic feelings towards the people I care about, first of all my close friends. Not all the time of course – but neither do people in couple-relationships feel only romantic about their partner all the time, right?!
While writing this I thought of a lot of post-cards, very long or very short sms, stupid trash I kept, words and stories people keep referring to as a sign of bonding, pictures people took for me on their holidays, public remarks about thoughts someone got out of an intense conversation with me, simple notes on rubbish paper or dry leafs, carrots and cow seals.
Things that warm my heart, letters that make me glow, pictures that move me to cry or laugh or both.

My understanding of love is bigger than something you can just share with one person at a time. There are as many ways of love as people I care about.

So if you feel like romance is only to be in your couple-relationship – so it be.
But don‘t try telling me I can‘t have romance in my life without choosing one person that I have to jump in bed with, share everything and eventually move in with* (or whatever you regard being a couple).
- don‘t try telling me I can‘t have romance the way I live my life, cause I promise the hell that I already do!


* this is not my opinion about how couple-relationships inherently are or have to be – these are implications of the socially shared picture of “the” relationship. And that does influence relationships and how they are perceived.