In an age of Internet love matches and instant sex hook-ups there may be some hope for romance. The magazine, “Humanities,” highlighted the work of Philip Kelley in October. He is compiling some 11,601 pieces of correspondence between Victorian poets Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, including their love letters. And the Journal of Popular Romance Studies is calling for papers this month for a special edition "Critical Love Studies" exploring love from romance to friendship.
Today women are bombarded with advice from magazines on achieving “the big O” while men puzzle about love, obsess about size, or -- as do some young women -- take the "Tinder" way out for instant sex devoid of love and romance.
During the days of courtly love, men wooed women and sang love songs to them. Women wrote adoring letters and pinned for men who were off fighting battles for the King. They longed for intimacy. Although we seem to be a society seeking long lasting love, the media still focuses on sex, erotica, inaccurate Internet scare statistics about infidelity, and tasteless Red Carpet show all body-flaunting. Yet, as holidays approach, there seems to be an anxiousness about finding love and sharing these special days with togetherness.
To reclaim romance and loving sex, here are some thoughts based on longtime research and common sense.
1. Take time to get to know the person to whom you are attracted. Get to your partner even more intimately.
2. Touch as often as you can. There are principles in tantric sex that suggest you get to know every part of someone’s body before your two bodies join in intimacy.
3. Show, don’t tell. A woman does not need to spell out what she read or tried out based on a magazine’s top 64 ways of making love.
4. Express gratitude. When tempted to utter a critical word, find a way to express gratitude and look for a positive aspect of the person you are with and tell that person. Train Your Brain for Gratitude
5. Share a cup of warm coffee. Yale researcher Professor John A. Bargh with Lawrence Williams of the University of Colorado determined that, “Our judgment of a person’s character can be influenced by something as simple as the warmth of the drink we hold in our hand.” (With Hot Coffee, We See a Warm Heart, Yale News in Oct. 2008)
6. Toss the book on 365 nights of sex. Some women have promised this to their husbands or lovers. Eventually it becomes as routine as brushing one’s teeth or creates too much pressure to perform.
7. Laugh together. Women want a man who is funny and men want a woman who will make them laugh or at least smile. In a study from the University of Kansas, associate professor Jeffrey Hall found that the likelihood of successful dates could be predicted through laughter, and “an even better indicator of romantic connection is if the two are spotted together laughing.” And, a new review of the research literature indicates that laughter -- and even a smile -- is contagious.(Wood, 2016).
8. Forget about your body. Women obsess about their bodies. Men frequently do not notice our cellulite. And men, do women really care about penis size? Despite various studies, women are most often concerned about a man's attentiveness and willingness to fulfill their desires.
9. Learn to listen. When your partner talks to you, listen. Look into his or her eyes.
10. Choose forgiveness. If a new or current love upsets you, instead of biting words or the silent treatment, change the way you express hurt or disappointment. Being with words such as “I think you are terrific and I am so happy to be with you, however, it hurts me when you say you are going to call and then don’t.”
11. Designate a “time out” serenity space. If you have a serious disagreement, instead of withholding sex and sniping, chose a serenity space where the two of you can talk without accusations
12. Send a love letter through the US Mail. Start simply. 'Here is one reason that I love you." Then write one note a week for 45 days and see how your relationship will blossom.
13. Avoid too much texting and sexting -- unless it is brief messages or endearing words -- it can hinder meaningful communication (Shadea, 2013).
14. Trust your instincts. When you think something is off balance you are usually right. Women are especially intuitive as Yale researchers have determined and documented in "Einstein’s Space and Van Gogh’s Sky."
15. Embrace intimacy. People are afraid of intimacy because it reveals vulnerability. However, it is often the case that vulnerability opens lines of communication that lead to intimacy.
We have become an overly programmed society. It is time to take a page from the senior’s handbook. Researchers have found that seniors are sharing more romantic moments and even sex more than the rest of us who are connected to the electronic world. Seniors have learned the joy of holding hands, looking into each other’s eyes, and savoring romance slowly. Although they may not have that many years left in their lives – they are living in and treasuring the moment. Are Seniors Enjoying More Sex Than the Rest of Us?
Copyright 2015 Rita Watson
Schadea, L.C, Sandberga, Beana, J.R., Busbya, D., Coynea, S.,"Using Technology to Connect in Romantic Relationships: Effects on Attachment, Relationship Satisfaction, and Stability in Emerging Adults," Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy: Innovations in Clinical and Educational Interventions, Volume 12, Issue 4, 2013 (314-338).
Wood, A., Rychlowska, M.,Korb, S., Niedenthal, P., (2016) Fashioning the Face: Sensorimotor Simulation Contributes to Facial Expression Recognition, Trends in Cognitive Sciences, On line Feb.11, 2016, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2015.12.010 (Corrected proof in press)