Dating and maintaining a half-decent relationship in the 21st century are notoriously hard work (some may even say a nightmare). The reasons are many: our greater freedom, our "always-on" workplace culture and, of course, the confusion that arises from digital technology and social media.
So it's not surprising that nearly 60% of us are confused about what constitutes romance these days, according to new research. A similar proportion (57%) fear making romantic gestures to avoid the embarrassment of them being deemed "cheesy" or awkward, yet at the same time, over 75% of us would like more romance in our lives (whatever we think it means).
One of the biggest problems for people in heterosexual relationships is that men and women seem to have different ideas about what's "romantic". Publishers Mills & Boon surveyed more than 2,000 men and women about romance and found that men are more likely to think material gifts and flowers express their love, while women prefer the intangible: romantic walks, cuddling and spending time with their partner. It seems many of us agreed with J.Lo when she said "love don't cost a thing".
There was some overall consensus that certain behaviours are more romantic than others. Holding hands was deemed to be the most romantic, with 44% of respondents saying they approved, followed by cuddling (44%), giving surprise gifts (43%), romantic walks (32%) and giving flowers (31%).
Also among the top 20 were various other clichéd "romantic" activities: spontaneous trips away, candlelit dinners, breakfast in bed and running your partner a bath after a long day. Even "sharing an umbrella" made the top 20 list, showing just how low the bar for romance in 2018 really is.
There were a few more modern gestures that we can get behind, though, like waiting to watch the next episode of your favourite TV series and bringing home your SO's favourite takeaway (which should've been far higher up the list IMHO). Unsurprisingly, sending a selfie or a cheeky "you up?" message didn't make the cut.
People certainly don't need help naming the biggest turn-off, however. A mobile phone addiction, including having a phone out at the dinner table, was deemed the biggest "passion killer" by 49% of those surveyed, which is no surprise given the current craze for digital detoxing. This was followed by bad personal hygiene (45%), rudeness (33%) and drinking too much booze (31%). See the list in full below.
The top 20 "romantic" gestures in 2018
1. Holding hands
2. Having a cuddle
3. Buying a surprise gift
4. A romantic walk
5. Giving flowers
6. Planning a spontaneous trip away
7. A candlelit dinner
8. Breakfast in bed
9. Cooking a homemade meal from scratch
10. Writing a love letter
11. Running a bath for your partner after they’ve had a long day
12. Organising a spontaneous date night
13. Reminding your partner of a happy memory together
14. Waiting up for your partner to get home
15. Waiting to watch the next episode of your favourite TV series together
16. Letting your partner choose the movie you watch
17. Checking your partner got home ok after a night out
18. Bringing home your partner’s favourite takeaway meal
19. Giving your partner a foot massage
20. Sharing an umbrella
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