By Sara Orellana
Raising a child in the age of social media, instant streaming, and influencers can cause me significant amounts of stress. I worry that she will never have a true idea of what the world and life is really like. Life is hard, it is ugly, and it is a continuous struggle. Yet life is also capable of the most incredible moments imaginable. If we but open ourselves to the truth, to the beauty around us, choosing to not compare, but to live life to the fullest, we see the world as the universe desires us to see it.
As we look back at Valentine’s Day, I thought about romance. Are to believe what society and social media tells us romance is champagne toasts, diamonds, and flashy clothes, yet in the hard moments — the moments that leave us on our knees barely able to breathe from pain — these memories are not what will sustain us, nor give us the courage to move forward?
Showering our significant other with gifts does not necessarily show our love. It is far too easy to purchase a shiny bauble for someone and declare it a true representation of our love. I have never liked baubles or tchotchkes; random gifts have never made me feel loved. Far too often have men tried to distract me from hurt feelings, their anger, or worse, their disrespect with baubles. Moments of quality time and memories are what makes me feel loved.
True romance is truly knowing your partner and then meeting their needs with no expectations. If you want to make your significant other feel special, plan their favorite activity and choose to truly enjoy sharing the moment with them. Or if your significant other is busy with work, look for ways to make their days easier: do the laundry, cook dinner, or clean the house.
True romance can be found in the details, the small gestures. A text sent before a big meeting reminds them how amazing and capable they are. Make their favorite meal just to watch the joy on their face. Put their needs above your own, knowing full well they will do the same in return. Bring flowers home for no reason. Wash their car just because they like having a shiny vehicle. Exchange harsh words for words of compassion. Overlook short responses, choose to give them a pass and see the best in the person you love.
Wanting to show my daughter what romance is, we started talking about it. We shared laughs, threw around some ideas, and finally settled on what romance is for us. It is knowing the other person, knowing how to truly love them without losing ourselves, and prioritizing their needs and wants, and meeting them halfway. Knowing that the path of love is not always balanced, understand that sometimes we must give more and that when we need more it will be met.
Romance is an art, not a science. The ability to love is to give when it is needed knowing it will be returned. It’s wanting the very best for the other person. Yet in a world that prioritizes baubles champagne, having the perfect photos for social media, the question must be asked: Does true romance still exist?
Sara Orellana, MS, MPH is a community volunteer, entrepreneur, author, amateur chef, and advocate for rescued animals. She may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.