Blog by Yessica Maher, los Angeles Native.

She explores life after marriage, starting a career in her late 30's, relationships, breaking cycles of abuse, online dating, self care, fertility and depression. 

It's all over the place, but so is living. 

What is Romance?

My latest dating foray became a lesson learned and I’m back to swiping.  I felt things.  I remembered how music can pull you closer and swapping songs can be powerful. I learned a lot about myself.  I get to figure out what it is to be in a relationship without being paranoid that I could cause jealousy in someone else. Jealousy and insecurity are like stress and fear, right? You can’t measure them.  They’re made up in your head and taking responsibility of your life means no one else can give or take them away.  I just get to internalize that to overpower reactions I learned over 16 years ago. I wish I had tears for him this latest guy because he made me feel so many great things, but I don’t.

In a swipe-happy moment, I was approached by an inbox message, and he wasn’t offensive or entirely drool worthy.  We batted banter back and forth for a bit and then he asked me if I’m romantic.  He wanted to know what kind of romantic things I like.  It sparked thought and I’m going with it.  Naturally his next question involved what sex with my ex was like and that’s when he lost that dull glow of maybe and ended up in the land of no. Boys.

What is romantic to me?

Romance can't be scripted. It's about seeing the person you care about and catering to their needs and desires. It wouldn't be romantic if it didn't come from a place of love as a reflection of the intimacy granted through trust.

So maybe that’s a bit heavy.  Let me pull and stretch this so it lands and settles in the fine lines for you.

The easy answer is that romance isn’t about sex but ways we make others feel loved and cared for. It’s about idealizing reality.  I’m fairly irritated by men that can’t see past sex when looking at me or talking to me.  A friend recently said I’m brutal.  The truth is I’m very gentle and caring for the men that saw me as a person.  The men that see me more as an option so they aren’t stuck alone and rubbing one out get treated harshly.  It’s not that I try to be mean, but they don’t try to treat me like a human.  I might enjoy posting those conversations to my Instagram lately.  I get comments that tell me I’m not the only one.

Have you ever received a gift that you didn’t want? I know I have.  I’ve looked at it, and thought wow, you got me exactly what you would want.  Of course, my upbringing means you would have only seen my smile.  I would have hugged you.  I would have tried my best to use it and later let you know I did, but that doesn’t mean I felt loved in receiving it. It feels like being used to make someone feel good about themselves through the appearance of their generosity.

I buy my own lingerie, flowers, jewelry and quiet dinners.  Thankyouverymuch.

Romance isn’t about buying stuff.  It’s not about impressing me with how much you can spend on me.  It’s about taking the time to do what I like in a way that doesn’t feel like it’s a sacrifice I’m indebted to, but a moment where I’m so important that the thing we’re doing is important to you just because I am important to you.

Romance isn’t about 5 second underwear that you get to rip off me, but something you pick out just to worship me in.

Romance is preparing a meal - not to create a sexual atmosphere but because you don’t want me to add another thing to my day, or you want to feed me (a man feeding me is almost as hot as a man that is good with kids). Maybe it’s about showing me something special to you.  Not because you need to increase a fan base, but because you love what you are excited about so much that you think it would improve my mood.

Romance is about wanting to bring someone else joy or love or peace because that person’s wellbeing is what brings you joy.

In love, we offer our trust and it’s either reflected or betrayed.  Rarely it meets a solid wall where it doesn’t affect the person that was trusted.  In the intimacy exchange, we see into each other and breathe who we are into someone else, hoping this vulnerability gives the love it receives.

How incredible is it to see someone in the promise of this exchange? How powerful would it be to take the love and trust that was offered, see what was said and what stood without voice, and offer it as a gift.  To me, this is romance.

Romance is seeing that I like flowers, but noticing which ones I like, rather than picking any bouquet available. It's about gifting me with flowers that will give me a private show of beauty before dying for me as they fade and petals fall.  It's not something that only shows up as an apology.

It’s a date that takes me into who he is and wants to show me because it is an offering of his intimacy.  It’s showing me his adorable geek out as he is digging through comic books and wants to show me what only he and a handful of other people would know. It's holding my hand through a crowd to make sure I don't get lost or fall behind because he needs me to be where he is.

Romance is letting me in and seeing where I’ve allowed someone else in and giving back in a way that honors the open capacity to be that we have shared in our exchange of trust through the fragility of our vulnerabilities.

I can be brutal, but at the heart of who I am, I really am a hopeless romantic.

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