- Gender and Relationships
Are Grand Gestures Necessary For Love? -Stephanie Bailey
Sixteen Candles, Love Actually, Amelie, Top Gun, Love and Basketball, Sleepless in Seattle, Brokeback Mountain, Once, Emma, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Juno, Love Me If You Dare, Grease, Romeo and Juliet, Pretty Woman, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Say Anything, and The Notebook...these are just a few movies that emphasize grand romantic gestures.
If you have ever seen a romantic movie than you should be very familiar with how a grand gesture in love looks. In the movie Pretty Woman: Edward (Richard Gere) decides he can't live without Vivian (Julie Roberts) so he climbs up her fire escape (even though he's afraid of heights) with roses in his mouth to prove his love for her.
Romantic movies give the illusion that big gestures are important when it comes to true love. Who doesn't want to feel swept off their feet? Grand romantic gestures (and I’m not referring to a proposal) are exactly that.... elaborate expressions of feelings to either win someone’s heart, or in most cases—have sex.
Although grand gestures are nice, do they get more credit than deserved? Too often you can put so much weight on big gestures that you forget the foundations that are truly needed to keep a relationship successful and moving forward. When this happens it can hinder or destroy the relationship.
It is hard not to get sucked in since romantic movies give the impression that grand gestures are necessary when it comes to love. But, what really occurs after the grand gesture happens? In these movies you see the girl falling for the guy and vice versa, with the grand gesture usually shown at the end— along with declarations of love. The real question is, “do they stay in love?” Does love actually stick? Since most romantic movies don't have a sequel, your mind is left to wonder—do they live happily ever after? Hmmm, it's a great thought, but not always the reality.
In my experience, when it comes to grand gestures, neither the relationship nor love has lasted. Don't get me wrong, I am not cynical. I am one of those women who believe in finding their Prince Charming. I want to find the one who will sweep me off my feet, and make my heart skip a beat every time I see them. I am also a realist. I expect my prince to be a regular person, not a movie character. I want him to have ambition, be employed, have no problem respectfully communicating, affectionate, trustworthy, a team player in the relationship, have morality and values, and not have anger/insecurity/jealousy issues. Is that too much to ask for? In this day and age, it seems like it is. I have found that some men use grand gestures to mask what they find lacking in themselves, or to hide their inability to form relationships.
My last boyfriend had many grand gestures. He asked me to move in and become his girlfriend after only two weeks of dating. I wasn't fully convinced of his intentions until three weeks later, when he asked my grandparents (my mother lives out of state) if they would approve when he asked for my hand in marriage. Although I wasn't committed at that point in our relationship to marriage—what girl doesn't dream of meeting someone who knows that you are the one? I had put out to the universe (after meeting so many men who didn't know what they wanted) that I wanted a man who knew exactly what he wanted, and that is what I received. Be careful what you wish for! The problem with his grand gestures was that they did not stick. The rush for us to live together, and the discussion of marriage was to hide his anger/bipolar issues. By the time I was aware of his mental issues, he had told everyone that he finally met the girl he was going to marry. Just a few months later, we were breaking up and I was moving out ...uncontrolled anger is not something I will tolerate, even with grand gestures of love.
I also dated a man who used money for his grand gestures. This man treated money like it was an endless ocean of water. The night we met, he sent over a bottle of Dom Perignon and strawberries to my girlfriends and I. His romantic gestures continued with him sending lilies and Godiva truffles to my house, along with a note saying, "I can't stop thinking about you." On our first date he took me to a fancy restaurant, and there were more lilies, and more champagne and strawberries. I was living my own romantic movie, and it felt unbelievable, although a part of me kept wondering why so many lavish gestures so quickly?
A few weeks later, my birthday arrived and the big gesture happened when he insisted on getting me a birthday gift...shoes and a clutch to complement the dress I would be wearing at my celebration. He swept me to Neiman Marcus, handed the salesperson his black card, and told her to find me the best shoes and purse for my dress (which I had with me). "Anything she wants," he stated, and then he left to get a drink. This is almost every woman's dream after seeing Pretty Woman. But, was I really Vivian (Julia Roberts), or was this elaborate gift a way of “guilting” me into his bed since we had not slept together? Was he being truthful when he claimed that lavishing me was his way of showing me how deeply he cared, or did he have an expectation for what he had “paid for?"
As the salesperson excitedly pulled various shoes and purses for me to try, I began to get nervous because I wasn’t able to see all the prices. My final selection of shoes and a clutch totaled $1600. I was very uncomfortable, feeling it was way too much money for him to be spending. He was not my boyfriend, and we were only 3 1/2 weeks into dating. I thanked him for the very sweet gesture and explained that the gift was way too much, only to find out that he had already purchased the items. I was worried - he bought them when it clearly made me uncomfortable, and what was the catch here?
The catch turned out to be— nothing is for free. With big romantic gestures, there is usually an emotional or sexual price, and in this case it was both. The emotional price is that he ended up being an alcoholic. Every time we went out, his drinking kept increasing. Our “romantic” dates started consistently ending with me taking care of a drunken man, and driving him home at the end of every date (35minutes away). When you are sober, dealing with a person who's intoxicated is no fun. The last straw was when he got really drunk and demanded sex, even though he assured me the night before that he was fine with waiting. Demanding sex...seriously? I don't think so, and definitely a deal breaker. I gave him back the shoes and purse, kept my pride, and told him to lose my number.
Although romance is always appreciated and important in relationships, when someone truly loves you, they do not need to prove that love with so many grand gestures. Instead, they prove it every day with the little things that add up to the (much more satisfying) grand gesture of a committed, respectful, loving relationship.