Romance is powerfully rooted in autonomic processes. oNe wishes it were not so, but it is. The idea that there’d be a professional class of person setting courtship fashions while trying to navigate the vagaries of the human sexual response under medieval Catholicism amuses me, but along with lots of other worthy contributions to letters, that’s what troubadours were. And in the west we’re stuck with it and the cultural knock-ons, and I vacillate wildly between loving a lot of it and wanting to wring its neck and gut it and singe it in preparation for the soup pot.
When I’m writing fanfic, I’m addressing romance as a way of approaching pair-bonding (unless I’m writing specifically polyamorous fic) and writing it the way I want people to behave. yanno…. Like fucking adults who occasionally lose their phones or drop the groceries. I try not to write more trouble than people need, and to write the characters as if they all have some expectation of, and agency in, making their own situations better, sometimes by taking an overt and possibly impolite interest in someone else’s troubles as a substitute for dealing with their own as an emotional way station to their own self-regulation.
For that is the dream, the magical reset button of romance. Not that love will last forever, that part’s easy. The renewal of romance is in how you can see yourself again, young and overwhelmed and sappy, but also that this love brings with it your idea of yourself as contented and working with another person on your self-improvement. These are all mental states far beyond the sexual arousal (in most although not all cases) that gets you to pair bonding (because pair bonding without sexual behaviour is also a lasting component of human life, and takes a lot of different forms.) My point is that romance is complicated, and if you want it to look like all of human life on this planet, rather than taking, for example, whiteness or being able bodied for granted, it gets more complicated still. The functioning pair bond implies a mutual commitment to self-improvement as a joint project, and when two individuals work hard on that, something more beautiful than romance occurs. They are stabilizing the world for everyone around them.
I could say more, but I’m happy with what I’m thinking.