Is romance dying? Is it making a tragic exit from our lives? Consider this hypothetical scenario. A man is expressing his love for the girl of his dreams.
Almost 200 years, Lord Byron wrote these lines:
She walks in beauty like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies
And all that's best of dark and light
Meets in her aspect and her eyes
More recently, in 1956, a songwriter expressed it his way:
The blush on your cheek
Whenever I speak
Tells me that you are my own
Fast forward to the present time – and the outpouring of affection is likely to go something like this:
"Yo! Babe! You look hot."
Are we witnessing a rapid and inexorable death of romance in our times? Is it becoming too easy? Let me explain. For centuries – apart from marriages of state – the ultimate for a man wooing a woman has been to get her into bed with him. Nothing wrong with that. It's how we males have been programmed. However, till as recently as the 1950s, the man had first to go courting, as they quaintly put it back then.
Not everyone could write sonnets to the object of his desire, of course, but the swain had to start off with flowers and candy; and work his way up gradually. It could take weeks – or even months – before he "got some" – and he usually ended up marrying the girl. One night stands were rare; and women who gave in too easily were considered "loose" and "not the marrying kind." Men have always been hypocritical in this respect.
Nowadays, things have become much simpler. Buy an average girl a drink – or, at most, dinner – date her a couple of times and she will usually be more than willing to "take it to the next level." Some may argue that this is a good thing: it dispenses with the hypocrisy. But, I wonder. For me personally, anything obtained without much effort diminishes in value. Besides, courting can be fun. As George Gershwin wrote:
Holding hands at midnight
'Neath a starry sky
Nice work if you can get it
And you can get it, if you try
I think part of the reason for the decline of romance is that it is considered "old fashioned"; even corny. A man spouting sonnets to his loved one today would be considered "sappy", even "girlie" – and his girlfriend would probably laugh her head off. Sadly, many women have lowered their expectations. Telling a girl she's "looking good" is enough to make her day. She no longer expects declarations of love or undying affection. Being told she looks "hot" or "smoking" is regarded as the ultimate complement.
Another probable reason for the deterioration in romantic standards is the increasing and inappropriate use of hyperbole. If a girl puts on a sexy dress, she is said to look "awesome" or "incredible" or "amazing." If her boyfriend buys her a bracelet, he is "the greatest." When you start off at the top end of complements, the only way left to go is downhill.
Most dating couples – and even those living together – are quite content with the present state of affairs, because they have never experienced anything better – and that saddens me. The girl is happy enough to be told she's "rocking" – and the boy will probably never experience the thrill of having finally earned the right to hold her ever so tight and to feel in the night, the nearness of her.