Have you ever noticed how romance novels are almost always written from the female perspective? Why are we leaving our men out in the cold? This question has been bouncing around my brain the past few weeks, so I did a little digging and discovered that nine out of ten romance novels are purchased by women.1 That’s a lot of women, especially when you consider that 74.8 million people read at least one romance novel in 2008! 2 When you consider the data, it’s not difficult to see why romance writers are catering to women… but I still think men are getting shafted when it comes to romance. Since I’m always looking for an excuse to torture my male friends with awkward questions, I thought I’d ask them whether they even like romance. I pulled together a little survey with the following questions:
- Do you like romance?
- Are you the kind of person who makes romantic gestures?
- What would you consider a romantic gesture?
As soon as my husband got wind of this little project, he folded his arms across his chest and gave me the look. You know the one. He accused me of all kinds of bias, then insisted I run the same survey by women. So, I did. I won’t bore you with all the data, but here’s what I found surprising: One hundred percent of the men I surveyed said they like romance. Let me repeat that… One hundred percent of the men surveyed like romance! Not only that, but every single one of them claimed to be the kind of person who makes romantic gestures – compared to only eighty percent of women! This begs two questions… if one hundred percent of men make romantic gestures, then why are women complaining there isn’t enough romance in their lives – and why are they looking for romance in books? If the guys are being honest here… and I think they are… then, ladies we have got to be missing something! I thought we might find some answers if we compare what men and women consider romantic. So, here goes!
Ladies first…Women consider romantic gestures:
- a smile, a pinch, a hug;
- a date night fully planned and executed by my spouse;
- a romantic dinner, either at a restaurant or at home;
- creating a relaxing environment for time spent together;
- doing what the other person enjoys together;
- holding hands;
- doing something special;
- giving an unexpected gift;
- writing a romantic note;
- a soft caress, a listening ear, and a long thorough body massage; and
- little surprises, like leaving a note or bringing home flowers.
Now for the guys… Men consider romantic gestures:
- a nod of the head (I did a double take on this one!);
- surprises or surprise getaways;
- notes hidden in places only she would look;
- kisses on the back of the neck while she’s cooking;
- playing footsie (or better) in a restaurant under the table;
- random hugs/kisses throughout the day;
- sneaking kisses when no one is looking;
- flowers, a weekend getaway, or a special class together;
- clean, pick-up the house at random times and for no apparent reason;
- fixing something around the house without being asked; and
- doing a favor, running an errand.
Look at those lists! They both include physical attention, thoughtful gestures, and acts of kindness; but there is one BIG difference – men add service oriented tasks to their list – things like cleaning the house, running errands, fixing things, and doing favors. I have to admit I was a little annoyed by this. I mean, I’ve scrubbed my toilet at least a hundred times… and it hasn’t made my husband swoon – not once! Still, out of fairness, a very good friend of mine once confided that the most romantic thing her husband did for her was shine her dress shoes. He was a Navy veteran, which I think makes the fact that he was voluntarily shining her shoes all the more impressive. She found his service romantic, but I think most of us are missing the point of these service oriented tasks. These may very well be the romantic gestures that we women don’t recognize!
The bottom line is this: We could ALL use a little more romance in our lives; and the nice thing about romantic gestures is they tend to be contagious. You text your boyfriend a thoughtful note, odds are high you are going to get one back. You slip a note in your husband’s Kindle, and he will likely leave one in yours. Look over the lists again. I’ll wait here while you do…. Did you notice how most of these romantic gestures cost absolutely nothing? If you really want more romance in your lives, do me a favor. Put your romance novel down for one evening (well maybe not my romance novel, but someone else’s romance novel). Fix your kids dinner and send them to bed early. Then, turn some soft music on, sit down at the dining room table, and have a candlelit dinner with your spouse. Write a note (or two or three) and put it somewhere he/she will find it. And, ladies, next time your husband kisses you on the neck when you are cooking… for crying out loud, turn around and throw your arms around his neck. Kiss him like you did when you first met. Play footsie under the dinner table. Dance in the kitchen – in front of your kids! Or, send the kids to the neighbors for a play date on Saturday afternoon, then chase your husband around the house with a squirt gun. Leave those ratty pajamas in your drawer for one night and slip into something nice. If you don’t have anything nice, just put on a pair of high heels and call it good. Trust me, you won’t regret it!!! In fact, I am quite certain you’ll enjoy where that little romantic gesture takes you.
Ogas, Ogi. The online world of female desire. The Wall Street Journal. Arts and Entertainment. 2011. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704463804576291181510459902.html (accessed Sept. 26, 2013)
Business of Consumer Book Publishing. The romance genre. Romance Writers of America. 2013. http://www.rwa.org/p/cm/ld/fid=580 (accessed Sept. 26, 2013)