Believe it or not, “Are you for real???” is a question I get asked a lot. There are days I feel like a sideshow oddity, but trust me, there are romantic men out there and yes, I am genuinely one of them.
The following query probably best put in writing the prevailing sense of incredulity. ”I am very confused by your high interest in romance. What is your motivation behind all of this. I’ve never met ANYONE like you. My husband always says when I express a need that ALL men are like him. They don’t want real true intimacy, romance, etc.”
At the risk of sounding like a raving narcisist, I felt the question of why I am the way I am deserved a thoughtful answer that just wouldn’t fit in 140 characters. I want to take this opportunity to share a bit more about myself, but more importantly, I want to explore some of the forces behind what can create a romantic man. It happens. I know several and they share many of the same traits and experiences as me.
Obviously it goes without saying that my Twitter persona is at least part illusion. I’ve chosen to focus on romantic gestures, but it is not all of me. I create dirty dishes and smelly socks just like everyone else. I’ve been known to say an occasional hurtful word and get cranky from time to time. I’m human. I just choose not to write about those parts of my life as often. As such, I appear only as good or bad as my editorial choices.
However, the reason I picked “romantic gestures” as the theme for my Twitter feed is that I’ve been told by more than one person that I need to share my penchant for romance. Apparently I am romantic… according to others; most importantly according to my lovely wife… compared to other men.
So what circumstances help to create a romantic man? I thought about it and here are a few of my influences:
1) I have always had women/girls as friends. Growing up, we moved a lot and as a result my girl cousins were the friends that I hung out with the most consistantly. My father always made a point of visiting his siblings and all of the closest sibs had daughters. Being a small, uncoordinated boy, I also just fit in better with the girls in the band than I did with the guys on the football field. Even today, most of my best friends are women (Thank you, Mrs., for being OK with that!). As a grade 6/7 school teacher, it’s at least partially due to numbers. On our staff, the ratio of women to men is about 2:1, so it just stands to reason that I will interact with ladies more often than men.
These friendships with women has made me very empathetic to women’s moods, wants and desires. No one can ever unravel this mystery entirely but I just am better at it than most guys. Being an honorary member of the clan (one of my best friends refers to me as “girl friend” in an endearing way) doesn’t hurt.
2) I have parents that model romance. It wasn’t until I was married that I connected the dots about my parents subtle romantic nature. It was no coincidence that they religionly slipped off for a Sunday afternoon drive. I learned to create hearts in the driveway using a powerwasher watching my dad do that for mom. It may have been by osmosis, but it sunk in.
3) Romantic gestures gave me an identity. As a scrawny (129lbs when I got married!), unathletic, nerdy, loner kid, my identity was not built around how fast I could shoot a puck, or how fast I could chug a beer, or how many girlfriends I had. Instead, early on I discovered that making a small, creative gift for a girl would get me at least a little attention from the girl I was crushing on. Even if it didn’t lead anywhere, I still relished that attention. Many girls/women has no idea how powerful their reaction to a romantic gesture can be for a guy. I craved that attention; still do.
4) My faith community promoted it. I was lucky enough to grow up in a series of churches that all honored women and the “covenant of marriage.” First and foremost, I was taught that entering into marriage was about more than love and sex, it was a binding contract meant to last forever. While this may not sound terribly romantic, the implication is that, if I was going to get married, I would have to work at it to make it work. Marriage was not just a hobby I could play with until I got tired of it. It was something that I was supposed to invest in. It was my responsibility to learn to be a good sex partner. It was my responsibility to create a relationship worth staying in. It was my responsibility to honor, protect and nurture my wife; emotionally, spiritually and physically. We would grow together.
Obviously there are religion men that are unromantic. One of my best friends, raised in much the same faith community, divorced early on his relationship. I’ve even known abusive men that attended church. However, it is worth noting that easily 3 out of 4 guys following my Twitter feed that “get romance” also Tweet about attending a place of worship. At the very least, this should be a hint that if you are just looking for a romantic man in the clubs, you may want to widen your search.
5) I got advice along the way. Two bits of advice have really shaped my attitudes and behaviors toward my wife. They are:
“If you want to avoid divorce, stay married.” Dah, right, but the implications are very deep. If I am going to chose to stay married, I want it to be enjoyable. How can I do that? At least in part by making my wife happy. Romantic gestures make her happy.
“A person does not cheat to be with someone richer, more talented, more powerful or more beautiful. They cheat to be with someone for how they make them feel.” How did I make my Mrs. feel today? It is a question that I ask myself regularly.
I’m sure there are more reasons why I find romantic gestures natural and satisfying, but those are the influences that came to mind. If you are looking for a romantic man of your own, do know that they exist. I suggest looking for a guy that has girl friends, romantic parents, is creative, may have been an outcast in his teens, is willing to listen to advice and has a faith background that calls him to honor a committed relationship to his wife. But don’t look at me – I’m taken.