It depends upon what you consider romantic. Real romance is not what you find in a grocery store novel with Fabio on the cover. Giving in to one’s hormones at the drop of a hat is not romance. This is lust, and while it may be spontaneous and temporarily exciting, using another person is not romantic. In fact, too many good romantic relationships have been ruined by lust.
Only humans are capable of romance because romance is where imagination and love meet. Sometimes a person’s actions may appear romantic because they are so imaginative and thoughtful, but the actions may be done for the sake of seducing another. This is not romance, because love is absent. Only when purity is present can one tell the difference between loving romance and selfish seduction.
In fact, romantic moments do not require physical intimacy—and the most romantic couples are the ones who realize this. They know that romance requires respect. You can have lust and passion without respect (as in prostitution), but you cannot have romance without respect. When that loving respect for the other person is present, a man stirs up his romantic creativity not for the sake of getting something from a woman but for the sake of expressing his love to her.
Lust, on the other hand, is boring, because it allows no room for mystery and anticipation. Everything secret is given away. The pure have more passion than the lustful, and it is precisely their passion that gives them the ability to build a greater kind of love. They exercise self-control not because of an absence of passion but because of the presence of love.
A twenty-three-year-old woman pointed out that there is something exciting in restraint, something that makes a chaste couple seem to glow in their wedding pictures. She proposed that “when we humans act like animals, without any restraint and without any rules, we just don’t have as much fun.” In fact, people who have misused their sexuality are longing for enduring love. They know that being loved is much more exciting than being used.
When it comes to the topic of sexuality, the media tell us that the most exciting sex is outside marriage. In reality the opposite is true. The world constantly tells us that when it comes to sex, everyone is doing it, and the people having the most fun are the wild singles depicted on television sitcoms, while married life is dull and unromantic. However, according to the researchers who published the most comprehensive and methodologically sound sex survey ever conducted in the United States, “The public image of sex in America bears virtually no relationship to the truth.”
Of those having sex, researchers found that the least satisfied were unmarried people. Those who had sex outside of marriage were aware that while it may have felt good during the act, that did not mean they felt good about themselves afterward. The guilt coupled with the anxious fear of being used, becoming pregnant, or contracting a disease lessened the sexual satisfaction of those who were promiscuous.
On the other hand, research showed that those who were married to a faithful partner had the highest reports of sexual enjoyment on both a physical and emotional level, and they were most likely to feel “satisfied,” “loved,” “thrilled,” “wanted,” and “taken care of.” Contrary to what the world incessantly says, research shows that marriages benefit from a lack of premarital sexual experience. In other words, great sex is not the result of sexual experience and technique. If anything, sexual joy is the result of a happy marriage, not the cause of it.
. Wendy Shalit, A Return to Modesty (New York: Touchstone, 1999), 193.
. Robert T. Michael, John H. Gagnon, Edward O. Laumann, and Gina Kolata, Sex in America (Boston: Little, Brown, 1994), 1.
. Laumann, et al., The Social Organization of Sexuality, table 10.5, 364.
. Laumann, et al., The Social Organization of Sexuality, table 10.7, 368.
. William R. Mattox, Jr., “The Hottest Valentines: The Startling Secret of What Makes You a High-Voltage Lover,” The Washington Post, February 13, 1994.