Lately I’ve been thinking more about how us “Millennials” seem to differ from young people from past generations. In my previous article, I discussed how technology is playing a major factor in how we approach dating, and is also a huge component in how we get dates in the first place. We’ve all heard all the pros and cons to dating in a tech-savvy and fast-paced world. However, how does our generation view romance? Are we more rigid, skeptical, or even creeped out by romance than society used to be?
Most women have this fantasy that a man (or woman) will come sweep us off our feet, maybe fly us to an exotic island, or show up knocking at our door at midnight, in the rain, telling us that they can’t live without us. Movies and other cultural media teaches us at a young age that romance is big, grand gestures of love showing the world that someone absolutely cannot live without us. Romance is John Cusack holding a boom box outside your window, or having an affair with Ryan Gosling at the house he built for you even though you’re engaged to someone else, or Big arriving in Paris just in time to save you from the self-absorbed artist. But in reality, is that really what we want? What if your ex-boyfriend, of six years on and off, showed up while you were in foreign country living with your current boyfriend? You may consider filing a restraining order.
Do “Big”, romantic gestures still work today? Today, most people meet their partners/ spouse/ boyfriend or girlfriend through mutual friends, school, work, or online dating. Typically, or rather what we see as appropriate or “normal”, people meet, they date, maybe they move in together, and when they feel ready, they get married. I think we often look at past generations with rose-colored glasses, meaning that we look in the past and think they had romance right. You hear those stories of how it was “love at first sight”, and how he saw her across the room and knew that she was “The One”. Today, if your friend said to you at Trivia Night at your favorite local bar, “Wow, look at that chick across the room! I’m going to marry her.” You’d probably laugh and then immediately close his tab for him.
I feel bad for men in this situation. How can they win? Women have these unbelievably unrealistic expectations of what romance and love are from music, movies, and books. Women want men to always know what they want, how they want it, and when they want it, without telling them anything. We learn from the media that women want to be told they’re beautiful and want to be asked out in interesting and unique places, such as the grocery store or on the bus. Ladies, say a man asked you out while you were shopping for produce at Trader Joe’s, what would you do? We read situations like this in romance novels and see them in the movies, but if it ACTUALLY happened to you in real life, what would you do? When asking a girl friend of mine this, she responded with ,”I guess I’d say ‘yes’ if he was hot.”
Here’s another example: Is it OK to ask people out at the gym? I had a debate with a heterosexual guy about this a while ago. I was joking with him about why he’s really taking a Yoga class at his gym. He laughed and told me he’d love to ask a girl out at the gym, but never had a good opportunity to because girls at the gym were very unfriendly. I told him, from my female perspective, that I would not enjoy being approached by a guy at the gym. I explained that when I work out, I’m in the zone, I’m sweaty, not wearing make-up, and am not feeling very attractive. He said he thought women looked great at the gym, even sweaty and make-up free. When asking my female friends about this, they all had to think for a second. They all pretty much agreed that it depended on how the guy approached them and whether or not he seemed “sleezy”. However, they ALL said they thought it’d be weird and they’d be caught off guard because they’d be sweaty and “gross”. This is a great example of how the media makes men think one way, and in reality, women may not actually want that.
This leads me to my next question, how do we like to be asked out? If we all think love at first sight is unrealistic, and do not want to be approached by random strangers during our daily routines, what then? This is why we have turned to meeting people at bars, when we have bit of alcohol induced confidence, and online dating, where we can pick and choose who we are willing to date and on our terms. Say you do meet a great guy (or girl), go on a really great first date, and you even get a good-night kiss out of it. Then the next day, you receive a dozen roses from the date and multiple text about how your day is going and scheduling another date. Would that make the average woman jump for joy or creep them out? It’s a tough line between cute and creepy.
At the end of the day, I think it’s important for women to realize their expectations and maybe take a second look at them. We must ask ourselves if we want things because we actually want them or is it because it’s what we expect because what we see in the movies and hear in love songs. I think small, romantic gestures are more important in a healthy relationship. For instance, giving your boyfriend or girlfriend a massage after a long week or cooking dinner for them may pay off more in the long-run rather than showing up at their office in a tuxedo saying “LET’S GO TO PARIS!” These smaller gestures of kindness and consideration can be as romantic as you make them. True romance is showing love, appreciation, and intimacy. We must separate how the media portrays love and romance, and what it actually is in real life. Romance for Millennials is allowing yourself to be open to new experiences and new people, trying not to be too skeptical when someone tries to woo you, and adjust your expectations to be realistic for what you want.