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The romance of restraint
Do you notice that the word romance today is most often used in a historical context? How can it be revived in today's world? - photo by Linda and Richard Eyre
Do you notice that the word romance today is most often used in a historical context?

There is the Romantic period of history or the romance of old movies or charming old stories. Or some will say, almost critically or in disbelief, Wow, that was so romantic when someone does something rather dramatic or sentimental. And romance novels always seem to have a historical setting.

Has something been lost? Is there still a place for romance in todays world? Can people still be swept away, or is that just a whimsical part of our imaginations?

Do the words of old romantic songs, such as these from "On the Street Where You Live" in "My Fair Lady," hold any relevance today?

I have often walked down this street before,

But the pavement always stayed beneath my feet before.

All at once am I several stories high

Knowing I'm on the street where you live.

If you think, as many seem to, that romance is basically a relic or an artifact of an earlier age, and if you wonder if perhaps we have lost something wonderful, and if you might be interested in recovering some of the old romance in your modern life, then maybe the first place to start is by asking how it was lost.

Could it be that by giving up discipline and restraint and chastity, our society has also been giving up romance?

Could it be that something as simple as sequence has a great deal to do with romance? Consider the sequence of this old nursery rhyme: First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage.

Contrast that with this less appealing rhyme that might describe today: Do what you want, whenever you choose, whatever you gain, whatever you lose.

Or, in a less poetic form, we might describe the mores of todays culture like this: First comes sex, which might at some point connect itself to love and possibly even lead to marriage. Or have a baby sometime if you wish, with or without a partner, and either before or after that elusive thing called love.

Could it be possible that one particular sequence is conducive to romance and many other sequences are not? Might it be that the selfish satisfaction of lusts and the desire for instant gratification in everything from love to money are the very things putting real romance out of reach?

Is it possible that physical discipline and sexual restraint, far from being the unhealthy, unnatural suppressants they are often portrayed as being today, are actually the formula for genuine romance?

What is it that is so appealing about an old movie or novel in which people dont jump into bed on their first night together where they take their time, talking and doing things together, falling in love emotionally and mentally before they make love physically? Why do those stories feel so romantic to us?

Maybe that suggests another way of describing the sequence that leads to magical romance: social attraction first, then the mental acquaintance, then the emotional and spiritual compatibility, and then, last instead of first, the physical. Maybe sex is more romantic when it follows the other four than it is when it precedes them. Maybe thats why just a touch of the hand or a simple kiss or embrace can seem so sexy in an old movie. Maybe waiting really does make it better.

If you have pursued a different, less romantic sequence, it is not irreversible. There is nothing to stop you from starting over from putting the physical on hold for a bit to focus and concentrate for a while on really knowing and appreciating each other socially, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

If you do that, we have two promises:

  1. Your relationship will be visited with the magic of more real romance than you have ever felt.
  2. When preceded and enshrouded by romance, the physical will be better than it has ever been.
In the coming weeks, we plan to further explore the lost art of real romance.