Bad Romance.

People love to declare that romance is dead. I don’t think it is. I think it’s alive. It’s just changed. Instead of taking someone to the sock hop and giving them your pin, you declare that you’re “in a relationship” on Facebook and surprise them with a Starbucks latte. Maybe I have low standards for romance though. If you don’t believe that romance still exists then google “wedding blogs” and come face to face with smiling young couples wearing fake mustaches in their wedding photos and take your cynicism elsewhere.

HOWEVER. I do think that romance is NOT way two way street. I think that in our society (again, I blame the Internet, no reason) only the man can be romantic. Let me explain. If a man surprises a girl outside of her window with a boombox blasting, everyone cries and falls in love. If I showed up at my boyfriend’s place doing that, he would feel awkward and ask me what I was doing and why I was playing Phil Collins at 3 in the morning and I would scream, “IT’S PETER GABRIEL!” and he would tell me to go home. OK actually my boyfriend wouldn’t do this because he knows the difference between Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel and I think he would be impressed by my upper arm strength. But my point, and I don’t think it’s a groundbreaking point, is that when women try to be romantic it’s seen as desperate, strange, and sometimes even creepy. Imagine every romantic comedy. Now flip the genders of the two leads. At some point wouldn’t the audience think of the lead women, “Oh my God girl, let him go. People think you’re a stalker. He’s just not that into you.”

When women describe qualities in men that they’d like, there’s a good chance that “romantic” will be one of them. But I don’t think men really care if their prospective girlfriends are romantic. They might use words like “smart” “pretty” and “good sense of humor” but they will likely not say “romantic.” (Prove me wrong, dudes, prove me wrong.) I don’t know if it’s because romance isn’t important to them or if they define romance in ways differently than women do. Women (not ALL women, I know) want their boyfriend to suddenly declare their love for them, preferably with a guitar, like Adam Sandler in The Wedding Singer when he surprised Drew Barrymore on the airplane with his love for her in song. But when I’m overcome with emotion and decide to be spontaneous and shout my love for my boyfriend, I’m asked to leave Trader Joe’s.

“That was so sweet!” we say to Adam Sandler. “That was so shrill!” we’d say if it was Drew Barrymore. For women, where is the line between being romantic and coming off as desperate?

Elisa — Serge Gainsbourg — I think this is one of the most romantic songs. But when I tried to translate it on the internet, I got something about “lice” and “your nails in the jungle of my hair.” Any French speakers want to help me out?


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18 thoughts on “Bad Romance.

  1. nepaliketi

    you know what, you’re right.
    i hadn’t thought of it but you are absolutely right … everytime my boyfriend does something “sweet” i gush to myself about how romantic he is. when i do the same i’m afraid i’ve come across (or are just actually becoming) clingy and desperate. like, we’re supposed to just sit on a stool and wait for love and attention … what’s to say they don’t want the same? right then! i’m off to go do something romantic.

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  3. Deidre

    While we’re on the topic, it seems like romantic comedies with female leads always have such stalkery and outlandish plots, whereas dudes are just being charming, screwing up and making up for it. Take for example two really famous romcoms (are they famous, objectively? I don’t know) Sleepless in Seattle and While You Were Sleeping. Meg Ryan literally stalks a stranger and flys across the country to watch him outside his house. And Sandra Bullock pretends to be engaged to a dude in a coma, hangs out with his family all the time and convinces him he has amnesia when he wakes up. Kinda. I can’t be the only one totally baffled by the popular ACCEPTANCE of these characters and stories.

  4. Elle

    I generally agree with you here. At least my boyfriend understands my creepiness is a measure of how much I care.

    Oh, and I love the music you post on your site.

    1. babygiraffes

      What’s even creepier is the relationship between Ione Skye’s character and her dad:
      “You guys even finish each other’s sentences! It’s like you’re married!”

      I don’t even want to know what’s going on there.

  5. House Hunting in Paris

    Your translation of the first stanza seems on point, here’s my quick approximate translation of that stanza:
    Cherche-moi des poux,/Find the lice
    Enfonce bien les ongles,/Dig in with your nails
    Et tes doigts délicats/and your delicate fingers
    Dans la jungle/in the jungle
    De mes cheveux/of my hair

  6. ana

    haha proper loved that comment you left! you seem pretty cool, and as for that blog roll, knock yourself out!

  7. nicole antoinette

    And like, what if a women bought flowers for a man? I think it’s quite possible that the universe would explode. Should we test this theory? We should test this theory.

  8. Hilden

    After I started crushing on a guy, I ran into him a lot because we were in the same major, had friends in common and lived in the same building. He told his friends I was stalking him, and then I avoided him like the plague. Way to ruin a crush.

  9. DiaryofWhy

    Ok, I’m way late on this because I seem to have lost your feed for a while there, but yeah, lice and jungles is a pretty accurate translation. Basically I think he wants her to groom him like a monkey. Awwww?

  10. Kevin

    You’re right. I don’t list romantic on my list of things I look for in a woman. BTW, to explain my presence, my girlfriend bookmarked your site on my computer and with a name like apocalypstick, I was curious.

    HOWEVER, after the aforementioned GF and I had only been dating for about 2 months, she sent me a gift that in my eyes qualifies as romantic. And it was the moment that I can point to where I fell hard for her.

    I can’t shut up about soccer, and she endures. Despite my constant ramblings, she listened intently enough to hear me mention that a lot of hardcore USA soccer fans wear Uncle Sam hats. In my weird subculture, those are cool. She is always in a different city than me due to her medical residency program, and was in a small East Texas town at the time. She managed to track down an Uncle Sam hat there and mail it to me with a card on the first day of the 2010 World Cup. I thought it was terribly thoughtful and sweet – and I guess romantic.

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