Boundbytheword Blog

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I’m too cynical to be a romantic… August 2, 2011

I’ve never been a huge romantic.  I’m not one to believe in white knights saving the girl or “one true love”.  I’ve never gushed over flowers or teddy bears, candlelight or chocolate. Okay – who am I kidding – I do get giddy about chocolate, but my feelings of adoration turn towards the candy, not the giver of said candy. Delectables aside, I’m not one who holds out for fairy-tale endings or even fairy-tale moments. I like laughter and kindness, but as for sweet-as-sugar romance – it doesn’t really ring true to me.  It hasn’t helped my viewpoint that I’ve always picked real schmucks in the heart department. (current love is the exception of course). I don’t know whether it is my age (43) or my years of therapy (lots, I’m not giving you a number), but somehow my realism in the love department has turned to cynicism.


I drove into town yesterday with the radio tuned to a song popular enough that I knew most of the words in order to sing along. A song I’ve always loved, but had never really let the words sink in.


“I found a reason for me,

to change who I used to be,

a reason to start over new,

and the reason is you.”


Lovely, right? Not so much if you are in my head. What came to mind after I sang the words was, “Unless you do it for yourself alone – you’re just setting yourself up for disaster.” My heart and head took opposing sides to argue out the intention of the lyrics.


What? The Pollyanna in me protested. He loves her enough to write her a love song, to sing about how she is his everything.


Cynical me though?


Could he guilt her more? She can’t be responsible for his reason to live, his only reason to be a good person. Seriously? If he was really committed to changing, he’d have done it for himself already, instead of weighing it all on her love for him.


The cynic in me always wins out though the Pollyanna tries her best (she would of course, she’s Pollyanna).  I get that this was just some guy who wrote a love song, but it irked me that he’s claims to do all this changing for her. What happens when things don’t work – he’ll just go back to being a jerk? He’ll have her to use as the excuse for being a real prick to the next girl? Nope – this is no love song folks. This is just another shining example of how people don’t want to be accountable for anything.


Now before you boys out there get your knickers in a knot – I fully understand it’s not just males that have this problem. Feel free to inject “she” where the “he'” is throughout the rant and the message is the same.  Plenty of females sing love songs that send the same message:  I’ll change for you, but if things don’t work out then don’t blame me for being a self-serving jerk.


Bleech. I hate “love songs”. Romantic verse can hold a lot of hidden messages. Kind hearts, beware.


7 Responses to “I’m too cynical to be a romantic…”

  1. Dale Long Says:

    Oh, don’t look so surprised, you knew I was going to comment on this. 😉

    Don’t get me wrong, I am a cynic too. I have low tolerances for… well the list is just too long. But I am, and always will be, a firm believer in tradition and romance.

    Thing is romance is a lot like cooking. It is very easy to over sweeten it and that does make the experience come across as too contrived. Add to that a lot of people use it solely as a means to an end. One has to open and let others in. Stick out your chin and take your lumps, so to speak, and gladly do it over again, and again. It’s those lumps that help you sort out the losers but also help you appreciate the true gestures more.

    Funny that I should write horror but am a hopeless romantic at heart. Like horror though, romance is what you make it and is different for everyone. What my wife finds romantic, others may not. The key is knowing the difference and what works for you or the person it is intended for.

    But then, I may be the wrong one to ask (married my high school sweetheart 20 years ago next Weds.).

    • Dale – you get big congrats for 20 years married – and to your high-school sweetheart too? So nice.

      I wish I was more of a romantic actually. I used to get flowers from boyfriends back in the day and think to myself – why would you speak $40 on roses when I can go cut some out of the yard. It’s not to say I didn’t like someone doing something nice for me…but I think you hit the nail on the head – it’s knowing what works for the individual. I would say you are an expert after 20 years…you have to be doing something right! Good on ya!

  2. Lisa Llamrei Says:

    I am totally with you on this. Seeing as I am 42 and single, this is probably not a surprise. Clearly, my experiences with romance have been less than stellar.

    Most people (and songs, and books, and movies) use the terms ‘romance’ and ‘love’ interchangeably, but in truth, they’re two entirely different things. Romance is hearts and flowers and being swept off your feet. Love is compromise and support and seeing things from the other person’s point of view. In other words, it’s work and it’s commitment. Quite often those who are strong in one area fall short in the other. Frankly, anyone who lacks the commitment to become a decent human being on his own isn’t going to manage it for someone else. As soon as the first blush of romance passes, he’ll revert back to his ugly duckling self and she’ll wonder what the hell she was thinking and move on. At least if she’s smart, she will.

  3. Lisa, yes – if I wasn’t married…I’d be single for the same reasons.

    What you said about what loves though is so true…it is all about compromise and support. More practical than traditional romance, but I myself vote for that over flowers any day.

    The song though spoke to me likely because it has been said to me before. That whole -“I’m nothing without you… you make me a better person” – it’s tricky because it feeds the ego, but the message behind that is clear: “when I’m not faking it, I’m actually a jerk”

    That said – I think I do make Will a better person. 🙂

  4. John Says:

    OK this a dangerous topic to comment on but here goes . . . speaking only for myself.

    1. There is absolutely nothing like those early times in a relationship when you are totally, completely, and utterly absorbed by your feelings for your partner. It is high like no other (I don’t do drugs — maybe I missed that one).
    2. For me, that feeling is all about the other person. I do what I do for her – not for me. Not for what it might do for me – change me, make be better, whatever. It is done for her. The selfish part comes from the joy I get in doing those things for her — from her pleasure. Ideally it is a perfect circle – the more I do, the more happiness I create, the more joy I share. And if you are REALLY lucky and the relationship is balanced, she is feeling the same things and is making her own perfect circle. Two circles some how magically joined.

    Now is this feeling “love”? In the long term — no — I agree with you all here. Love in the long term is a much more complicated and multi-faceted element of our lives. And like a snowflake no two loves are the same. Each can have almost infinite depths if given time. This long term love is complex but again at its root must be selfless giving. The best example I can think of here is the love of a parent for their child. I cannot even separate my concept of my sons from loving my sons. There is no conditional attached to my love of my children. It just is. And it not something that needs to be talked about to make more tangible — It doesn’t even need self-acknowledgment. It just is.

    Back to the “falling in love” thing. I realize that many people never experience this temporary ecstasy and that many suffer terrible hurts when the relationship is not balanced. I have never suffered the agony of these hurts — minor scars — but nothing major. So I give advice to no one. We all have different life experiences that set us up differently for our future relationships.

    But put me in the romantic camp . . . if there is such a thing.

    Noelle once again you have provoked some interesting thoughts – thanks.

    • John – if you weren’t married I could think of about 50 women off the top of my head who would love to meet you…lol.

      The other thing is – I haven’t been single for 15 years, and I myself wasn’t as balanced or grounded back then, so my choices may have been less than kind to myself.

      I know my husband would hands down agree with you on your point #2 -which in many ways is lovely, but I agree with another point of yours – it works best when balanced,

      Honestly – I’m just glad I’m not single! And you’re welcome…I love to open my yap and get people thinking!

      • John Says:

        I agree — balance is key. Both at the beginning and in the long term. I suppose over the long term, a good relationship broadens so that it has a greater range over which to maintain balance.

        It is all these and the other varied aspects of relationships that fascinate me and that drive my writing. I only wish I had the insight of someone like Alice Munro (to name only one great author in this respect) to understand the subtleties of relationship and the skill then to show them in story.

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