I may find myself at the Parisian Museum of Romantic Life, I may wear a white dress which was sold a few years ago as a wedding dress and which rather seemed to me to be the perfect Summer dress by Monoprix (the very French chain of supermarkets selling from your casual toilet paper to fancy truffle-flavored burratas to cute cashmere sweaters), I confess that I have never understood the notion of romance, as it has been peddled in our Western societies for several decades.

I have never wanted to get married, I declined several proposals and even canceled a wedding at the penultimate moment simply because the interest of informing a priest and a mayor of my intention to love someone definitely seemed pointless to me.

(But I am a lawyer, so I completely understand the tax reasons that can motivate a marriage, but you will agree that these reasons have nothing to do with romance.)

In addition, and this is very personal and concerns only my little person, I have never believed in eternal love – even though I have seen it around me.

I have never understood the enthusiasm of many women for engagement rings, and even less how the size of a diamond (which varies between 1.50 carats in France to four billion carats in the US – “the bigger the better”) could be correlated with the quality of love.

(I do, however, understand the appeal of wearing a dream dress, but who needs a wedding ceremony for that?)

I have never understood that a man must necessarily pay the bill for a romantic dinner and that he becomes a jerk when he suggests to split the bill.

(Especially when women, including myself, ask for equality). I have never understood that a man should make his proposal after a more or less determined period of relationship (this varies between two and three years, if I believe social media which astonishingly perpetuate that cliche) and that becomes an asshole by not proposing. I have never understood why moving in as a couple was that necessary.

(I do understand, however, that moving in as a couple perpetuates the creation of an economic and social unity that dates back to the dawn of time and from which, alas, women often suffer in heterosexual couples because of the mental load and the ensuing impoverishment).

I may never have understood romance and romantic love because there is no clear definition. Even if everyone vaguely perceives that amorous romanticism and romance derive from the European artistic movement of the end of the 18th century which made feelings and imagination prevail over reason, the notions remain vague.

The French Le Robert dictionary defines romance as “character, romantic spirit” (they did not try too hard, the Le Robert experts, on this one) and the French Larousse dictionary defines it as “behaviour, character who lets oneself be dominated by the imagination and is passionate about generous but utopian undertakings” (it doesn’t help, right).

Whether in French or English dictionaries (which do not do much better in terms of clarity), the synonyms “idyllic” and “idealized” are often proposed instead of “romantic” and are always correlated to love – when it’s not about the above-mentioned European artistic movement of the end of the 18th century.

Because, let’s face it, the confusion between the concepts of romance and love (defined by the French Larousse dictionary as “the inclination of one person for another, of a passionate and/or sexual nature” – it’s a bit brief) is big.

Seemingly, love exists but romance often express, in a codified way according to the era, said love – and I come back to the proposal, the size of the diamond of the engagement ring or the payment of the restaurant bill. These last three examples are only socially constructed milestones that do not always have much to do with love.

I hardly believe in romance, as you may have understood.

But I strongly believe in love.

Love consists, in my eyes, in granting as much importance to the other one as to oneself. This presupposes understanding which person the beloved one is, how the beloved one is different from oneself, how their mode of functioning and their needs are different from their own – and even sometimes, when the sacrifice is not too great and it is done in full awareness, to prioritize the other to one’s own detriment.

Love is expressed, in my eyes again, in a thousand attentions that have everything to do with spontaneity and nothing to do with the codification of expected acts (I come back to the proposal, the size of the diamond of the engagement ring or the payment of the restaurant bill). No woman needs a bouquet of 407 roses, an 800 carat engagement ring or an automatic invitation to a restaurant to feel loved – otherwise she has to deconstruct one or two things about her notion of love.

These thousand attentions have been cleverly cataloged by American Baptist pastor Gary Chapman into the “five languages of love”: words of appreciation, quality time, gifts, services rendered and physical touch.

Each of these love languages exists according to the emotional and material means of each person: some people will combine all five ways of declaring their love, while others will only have one way of doing it – and that’s okay. Some people will shower their loved one with gifts while others will struggle financially – and that’s not a big deal either.

The important point is to understand it, to accept the beloved one as they are, with their capabilities and limitations and to be consciously and serenely satisfied with the situation.

The important point is to be together to face life, to transcend oneself and to transcend the relationship, which can also change over the course of life.

The important point is to return to the truth of the love feeling and to strip it of the social constructions. Because social constructions are often misleading.

Monoprix x Laure de Sagazan dress – Repetto flat shoes – Chanel sunglasses – Dior pouch

September 8, 2023