You Hate Me? How Romantic!

[In a 1983 PSYCHOLOGY TODAY survey] we provided a list of romantic gesturesand asked our respondents to check the ones that seemed romantic to them. A majority of the men and women thought that walking on a moonlit beach, declaring one's love, staying in and making love all weekend, having a quiet dinner at home, and kissing in public were romantic.

But when we asked people to describe their most romantic experience, we received some responses that spoke of romance in very different terms. A full 20 percent described an episode that represented out-of-the-ordinary sex: sex in the bathtub, sex under the stars, sex outside during a storm. And many others described some kind of suffering as romantic--unrequited love, being separated from a loved one, parental interference, instances of terrible betrayal. Our respondents obviously do not have a single, unambiguous notion of romance.

                                                  --from "The Modern Art of Courtly Love" by Carin Rubenstein,July 1983.

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[The survey respondents, incidentally, included a 28-year-old Pennsylvania man who claimed to have fallen in love 131 times—"all of them serious emotional relationships," he insisted.--PD.]

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