"We were never going to have sex in this house," I said to Mr Fritz. "I knew it," was his calm response. We were staying in an Airbnb that didn't live up to my expectations. The beautiful glass lamp shades were murky with dust, we had to pre-wash the glasses and crockery, and I felt the need open my trusty Wet Ones to wipe the remote, door handles and light switches.
Once I'm feeling on edge due to my surroundings, my sexual appetite diminishes. Sometimes it can even shut off completely. Luckily, we weren't on a "romantic weekend" – we don't buy into that nonsense any more. We're a bit older and wiser and we've learnt that you can't manufacture romance.
Real romance isn’t something you create, real romance happens. It’s based on a real connection and a real affection that you share with your partner. Credit:Stocksy
I used to associate romantic weekends away with pressure to have super-hot sex. Then there's pressure to look amazing, buy new lingerie, be perfectly waxed and plucked, and to have the "best" time. But the reality is that when you force yourself to feel romantic, and have sex just because you're on a romantic weekend away, it usually isn't.
I like to think of romance as a bizarre social and cultural construct that so many of us long for. It's a situation we deliberately create so that we can experience "romance", so we can feel romantic, be in a romantic setting, and eat and drink romantic foods. And nowadays, we take photos of these carefully constructed events to show everyone just how romantic our lives are – at least in that one moment.
It must be rooted in fantasy and movies and, of course, today it's spread across all the social media platforms. It's often expressed with objects or certain settings; perhaps the iconic red rose, a bottle of champagne or a romantic little restaurant. Some couples book into a hotel, a motel or pitch a tent.
In all honesty, Mr Fritz and I had done all of those things at certain stages in our lives, and none of them come even remotely close to the true romance we experience now.
These days I frown when I see a red rose. In fact, it irritates me, and I associate it with commercialised romance – it's morphed into a tacky symbol of romance.
As for champagne, I simply drink it when I want to because I enjoy it. It doesn't make me feel romantic and make me want to get all sexy. I often drink it at home in my tracksuit pants, and I love it.
So what has become of romance? Firstly, real romance isn't something you create, real romance happens. It's based on a real connection and a real affection that you share with your partner. It pops up like a delicious little morsel of specialness that only you and your partner are aware of.
One of these moments happened in that house we were staying in. I saw that it had a big bath and said to Mr Fritz, "Let's indulge in a morning bath tomorrow." He loved the idea and the next morning he jumped out of bed, turned the heater on and started to run the bath. Bingo! That was a delicious morsel of specialness right there.
Mr Fritz lowered himself into the bath and said, "Your breasts look particularly luscious in this light." I know he meant it. Now, if that isn't romantic, I don't know what is.
I also find it romantic when he charges my iPhone and iPad, when he makes my cup of green tea exactly how I like it and when he comes home from work and squeezes the life out of me. That's the foundation that real romance is built on, not bloody red roses, chocolates and hotel rooms.
This article appears in Sunday Life magazine within the Sun-Herald and the Sunday Age on sale December 16.
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