Is romance dead? The changing face of romantic gestures

It’s very easy to look back with rose-tinted glasses and think to ourselves that our ancestors were infinitely more romantic than we are now. Tales of courtship that grew gently over long periods of time, sneaking kisses away from disapproving parents of a ‘higher class’, roses left on the doorstep…are romantic gestures a thing of the past?

The romance of yesteryear is ribboned with a sense that ‘a rose by any other name would smell as sweet’. Today’s eloquent words of love include such silver-tongued phrases as ‘Netflix and chill?’

Yes, you’d be forgiven for thinking that romance is now relegated to the pages of history. Forgiven, yes, but thankfully incorrect! According to eHarmony’s Happiness Index study, Millennials are modern romantic and are arguably the most romantic generation of all. So, let’s take a look into the love story of romance itself…  

What is romance?

In days gone by, there were no dating apps, and ‘ghosting’ was called ‘being dishonourable and unashamedly rude’. You might have even heard your parents or grandparents talk about when they first got together — they went on a few cinema dates, perhaps attended a dance and went out for dinner before deciding that they were in relationship. All of this might make you think that it was much more romantic back then. But the older generation had their dating sites in the form of lonely hearts ads (the first one being published in 1695) and it’s likely that people still had the experience of being stood up. So, maybe it wasn’t that different after all. Perhaps it’s the way that younger people define and recognise romance that makes them seem less affectionate than the generation before them.

The most romantic gestures, according to one UK study, are perceived to be:

  • Holding hands (46%)
  • Cuddling (44%)
  • Giving a surprise gift (43%)
  • A romantic walk (32%)
  • Giving flowers (31%)

While romance is blossoming, its cousin ‘chivalry’ seems to be getting a little left behind. A huge 93% of over-45s believed there was still a place for chivalrous acts in the 21st century, whereas 37% of 18-24 year olds disagreed. In particular, ordering for someone at a restaurant was frowned upon and taking off a hat when entering a room was also considered outdated.

Romance through the eyes of each age group

Each age group has its own methods to display romance. Studies show that:

  • 90% of 18-24-year olds say that they hold hands when they’re out for a walk, 70% make sure that they go on date nights together, and 68% enjoy making romantic gestures such as writing love notes.
  • 79 % of 25-34-year olds enjoy making romantic gestures — more than any other generation.
  • 35-44-year olds are 15% less likely to go on date nights than younger millennials. Holding hands during walks was the most common romantic gesture among this age group.
  • 45-54-year olds are less likely to buy their partner small gifts between birthdays and more likely to hold hands during a walk.
  • Over 50% of over 65-year olds like to go on date nights and 40% like making romantic gestures. They were the least likely to buy gifts for partners outside of birthdays.

There was a sense of agreement across the ages when it came to expressing value though. All participants agreed that letting their partner know how much they are valued was extremely important, with 65% of all age groups admitting to kissing every day and 68% saying ‘I love you’ daily.

2019’s romantic gestures forecast

Seeking your True Love in 2019? There are many things that you can do other than following the current trends for your generation.

Firstly, don’t be ashamed to show off your romantic ide. One study revealed that 76% of Britons would enjoy having more romance in their lives. But 57% said that they didn’t make romantic gestures because they didn’t want to be seen as cheesy! It might depend on where you live, too. If you live in the capital, definitely pull some romance out of the bag to woo your other half — an astounding 86% of Londoners said that they’d appreciate more romance in their lives. Similarly, when dating site, Zoosk, conducted a study of 9,000 of its users, it discovered that when users call themselves a ‘romantic’ on their profile, their matches increase by 24% above the average match count. When the phrase ‘hopeless romantic’ was said, matches were boosted by 38%.

Remember, money isn’t everything, so there’s no need to spend your whole wage on a date night. Three-quarters of people surveyed in one study said that ‘snuggling in front of the fireplace’ is the most romantic date, followed by ‘candle-lit dinners’ (58%) and a ‘picnic in the park’ (45%). So why not save those pennies from the date nights keep aside for a potential engagement ring later down the line?

It’s important to show that your value your date’s company. People voted that mobile phone addiction, in particular at the dinner table (49%), was the biggest passion-killer. Closely followed by bad personal hygiene (45%) and rudeness (33%). So, no Snapchat or Instagram posts over dinner!

Romance certainly has changed over the years. But, this doesn’t mean that we’re any less romantic in ourselves — we simply have different ways of showing it. So, don’t be afraid to let your soft side show and display some affection.  

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