It’s Only Romantic When You Still Love Them

This writing is now available as a podcast episode!


While we were in Madrid in September, we took several tours through AirBnB experiences (I highly recommend them!), and as we strolled through Lavapiés, our guide pointed out some modeled lips just randomly sticking out from a building.

She explained that there were 700 or so of these lips all over the neighborhood, modeled and placed by a man whose girlfriend had left him.

He created a pair of lips for every day he was without a woman in his life (or so the story goes).

I think we saw maybe a double handful of them.

Our tour guide was in her twenties, and she said, wistfully, “I told my boyfriend he could be that romantic.”

I replied, “My ex-husband once convinced a local comedy group to allow him to get on stage and declare his love for me during a performance.”

She sighed a bit.

I said, “It’s only romantic when you still love them. If you don’t still love them, or worse, you barely even know them, it’s creepy. It’s stalkerish.”

Her eyes opened wide, as she thought about it. And she got it. She agreed. Then went on to talk a bit about the things he does NOW, while they are in their relationship that are romantic, and took us meandering further in our tour.

I could have continued the story instead of letting it go.

I had broken up with him. He was an alcoholic with mental issues and had emotionally abused me. The show was something I had taken to doing for myself, with my friends, as I put my life back together as a single woman.

And I was mortified.

EVERYONE in the audience was looking at me. Wanting me to give him a positive response.

Except I couldn’t.

I couldn’t do anything for too long. I was just…frozen.

It was yet another attempt to manipulate me, to ignore what I had said over and over that I wanted—to be left alone.

Finally, I was able to say, “No,” and walked out.

He tried to meet me as I left. People tried to stop me, to allow him to show his love—all well intentioned, I’m sure.

I felt trapped. Panic-y. And for a short while, hopeless that this constant stream of trying to get my attention, trying to convince me that he knew better for me than I knew for myself would ever end.

“Marry a guy who will email you when you block him.”

This morning, I saw this meme on FB.

Woman:

“Marry a guy who will email you when you block him.”

Man:

“Fellas, marry a woman who doesn’t play these kinds of games.”

Leaving aside the second point for another writing—because I feel it needs to be addressed, just not to dilute today’s topic—let’s stop glorifying, even to ourselves, the actions of violating consent.

Let’s choose partners who, if blocked, will realize you’ve just withdrawn consent to be contacted, and who WANT you to have the time and space you need to figure things out.

Let’s love those who make us feel like we can simply say, “give me some time to think about this,” without having to go tot he extreme of blocking them.

Let’s glorify people who make their feelings known day in and day out without screwing things up so much that they have to stand outside a window holding a boom box playing Peter Gabriel.

Marry (or don’t marry) the person who celebrates you for who you are, encourages you to be whoever you want to be, and respects you when you say “No,” however you do it.

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