Isn't it time we called it quits on the fantasy of romance? Other than reading wonderful books about steamy romantic affairs like in my novels Taking Chances or In A Dark Embrace, of course (okay, my plug is out of the way now, you can enjoy the rest of my blog).
Seriously, in a logical world "friends with benefits" should be what we all want. Think about it. You like each other (the "friends" part), add in physical pleasure (the "benefits") and the relationship should be perfect. In this kind of soft coupledom, both parties know that a walk into the sunset wearing matching gold bands is not on the table. There are no false promises, no hard lines boxing you together forever – or at least until past all endurance. Doesn't that sound better?
Funny thing is, no one wants novels about finding the perfect benefits package. And, I suspect that anyone who has ever been in one of those relationships knows that there is something (a lot!) missing. So why the gap between logic and the heart? Is it the lack of commitment? Do we need that fenced-in feeling in order to appease the demands of romantic love? HEA (happily ever after) endings are pretty much a must in the romance biz (although I skate close to the line in my stories Healer's Price and Demon Master), but is long-term commitment really a necessary ingredient to romance in RL? A lot of people would say yes. I'm going to say no.
I'm sure we've all known women who have had romances with non-committal men. Were they all clinging to the delusion of getting to that happy-couple-standing-in-the-church ending? I'll bet a lot of them were, unfortunately, and then felt bitterly disappointed when the years passed and the proposal never materialized.
Well, I'm one of those women and I'm not delusional (at least, not about my relationship). I happen to be madly in love with a man who I know will never slip a ring on my finger. He's a wonderful, decent guy who treats me with respect, heaps of affection and constant (sometimes unearned!) admiration. He just won't make promises into the far distant and impossible to predict future. Having been through the slow, painful death of one marriage already, I figure I've had enough broken promises for one lifetime. Others might question my decision, but what we have feels too good to give up. We have no legal or religious contract, only a deep, shared pleasure in each other's company. And, in my diary at least, that's a romance.
Maybe madly is the key word. There is a madness to being in love – it's turbulent, passionate and sometimes painfully vulnerable. When you're filled with such intense emotions, when the need to touch that specific somebody fills you and – miracle upon miracles – the object of your obsession responds, then isn't that a romance? It's a real world romance, sweet even in its imperfections. I'll take it over a lukewarm "friends with benefits" thing any day. I'll even take it over diamonds and "be mine forever" Valentine's Day cards. How about you?