A Study in Romance, part one

I’ve written on dating and courtship before, so in a sense I’ve (topical) experience (or at the very least sufficient background and knowledge) on the more general subject of ‘romance’. Now, I find it queer that I should be very adhesive to this particular word (rather than the ubiquitous ‘love’), and with a definition now in place:

Romance (n.): ‘a feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love’.

Queer, isn’t it? Well, at least the way I see it, the only queer part of the description is ‘mystery’. I immediately do understand the ‘excitement’ part, since romance is most closely linked to dating, which is also part of the series on Experimentation. Well no, this is not a Wikipedia article but it does make sense to do a little classification of our terms before I share my ‘study’.

Of Love, the variations and impostors include Romance, Infatuation, Obsession, Greed, Unconditional Love, Unrequited Love, etc.

Of the agents and proponents of Love, we have: Dating, Sex (and its impure distortions), Courtship, Marriage, Sacrifice, Speech, etc.

I would say the components of Love are too many to be listing down here, so I’ll skip that for now.

Now, why a study in romance? My first inklings of such an informal and personal study arises from my observations of couples whenever I go out. More accurately, unmarried, dating/engaged couples – bf/gf. That sort of thing. Now, what is there really to observe? (They are more than ubiquitous, after all). I would say we can deduce some functions of romance from there. Of course some aspects of dating must also be brought in.

“The study has brought forth these arguments:”

Firstly, if dating must be linked to anything, it is necessarily and foremostly romance. Why so? A revisit of the definition of romance reveals three key words: feeling (yes, this word is crucial), excitement and mystery.

That ‘feeling’ is described as ‘associated’ to love implies the separation of love from the category of ‘feelings’. Romance is the correct word to be used. I will derive several things from herein.

That the feelings involved include excitement necessarily reflects the approach to dating (which is the agent of romance, which is a sector of love), usually from both sides. It does not necessarily reflect the stage of progression into/duration of the relationship, though it possibly can.

Mystery is more often related to the stage of progression/duration of the relationship. The degree of mystery can often be the indicator for such.

Secondly, if mystery and excitement are at the very least high points in a fluctuating heart, they are at the most components of love sustained for a period of time, though not indefinitely.


On the first point, now. Of excitement and mystery, it necessarily follows that we ask what these emotions are directed at, rather than associated with. Excited and mystified by what or whom? A person? Relationships? Mutual and/or co-operative gain? Or love? My focus would tend towards ‘relationships’ and ‘people’ because they are the key factors in bringing about romance. 

Excitement seemed to be derived, as I watched couples, from the physical intimacy the relationship brought. There was, undoubtedly, a euphoric or positive feeling attributed to this. This is some type of present excitement (as compared to anticipation or ‘future excitement’, no?). Speaking of anticipation, excitement is more generally derived from the fulfillment of a certain expectation or hope, perhaps created in the past. {{short interlude: the avid linguist is intrigued by the simplicity of this concept as presented in German. The reflexive verb ‘sich freuen’ by itself is roughly ‘make oneself happy’ but is not complete without the preposition afterwards, of which there are two options creating two very different meanings: ‘sich freuen auf’ is ‘look forward to’ while ‘sich freuen über’ is ‘excited about’. More here.}} It is not surprising that up to this point fulfillment of expectation brings excitement. I mean, in the Grand Scheme of Relationships, some things (like tough times) are expected but don’t bring excitement. 

Mystery is, then, a strong emotion related to the ‘future excitement’ I mentioned, in a sense. We could, for one, encounter mystery at what event can take place in the future; we can also be mystified by how a (plausible) event in the future will turn out like. Marriage is a good example of the first; sex is a stronger example for the second (especially as the relationship tends towards marriage). 

From these two points, we can take the present and the future to indicate a rough gauge on what romance means for the (1) attitude to the relationship, and (2) the progress of the relationship. First, romance is an attitude of curiosity, uncertainty and anticipation. Whether solving your romance ‘mystery’ involves knowing more about what it means to be in a relationship, to ‘fall in love’, to hold hands, to know someone better than yourself… you are satiating curiosity. Uncertainty is both a response to mystery and a cause for excitement. Great involvement of the unplanned future and what can happen. Anticipation is pure excitement at what is more or less part of a plan for the future. More excitement is derived from the ‘how’ mystery and what the (future) experience will be like.

 

I hereby conclude part one of my study in romance. I will try to elaborate more on my very curt ‘second point’ in part two. After which I can draw a cohesive meaning from all the observations and inferences, or perhaps state my stand.

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