Juliet: Wilt thou be gone? It is not yet near day.
It was the nightingale, and not the lark,
That pierc’d the fearful hollow of thine ear;
Nightly she sings on yond pomegranate tree.
Believe me, love, it was the nightingale.
Romeo: It was the lark, the herald of the morn,
No nightingale. Look, love, what envious streaks
Do lace the severing clouds in yonder east.
Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day
Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops.
I must be gone and live, or stay and die.
Juliet: Yond light is not day-light, I know it, I;
It is some meteor that the sun exhal’d
To be to thee this night a torch-bearer
And light thee on thy way to Mantua.
Therefore stay yet, thou need’st not to be gone.
Romeo: Let me be ta’en, let me be put to death,
I am content, so thou wilt have it so.
I’ll say yon grey is not the morning’s eye,
’Tis but the pale reflex of Cynthia’s brow;
Nor that is not the lark whose notes do beat
The vaulty heaven so high above our heads.
I have more care to stay than will to go.
Come, death, and welcome! Juliet wills it so.
How is’t, my soul? Let’s talk, it is not day.
Romance is the intriguing, mystifying, dramatic, and arousing side of love.
This is probably my favorite scene in Romeo and Juliet. In denying the coming of morning, Romeo and Juliet, members of rival families, were putting themselves in grave danger of being caught and quite possibly killed. Why did they do this? All for the sake of a few brief moments together. It shows that romance can bring lovers together and also compel them to act as fools. Wonderfully, most of us have fallen under the spell of romance.
The Good and the Bad
Romance is exciting and mysterious. Its promises are thrilling and it makes a relationship that much more enjoyable. Romance causes hearts to race and the mind to dream. It feels good to get caught up in romance.
Many of us love romance so much that we want to feel a part of a romantic relationship, even if we’re not in it. One of the ways we enjoy romance-by-proxy is through film. For example, the top 200 romantic dramas and comedies have grossed over 18 billion dollars since 1980. That’s a ton of money spent on the thrill of romance. Another way many get a dose of romance from afar is by feeding an interest in celebrity. Grocery store checkout aisles are lined with dozens of magazines with stories about the latest celebrity couplings. If famous couples draw huge amounts of attention, royal couples may be even more magnetic: when Prince William married Princess Katherine, over 300 million people worldwide tuned in! These figures tell us a bit about the widespread appeal of romance.
As intoxicating as romance can be, it also has its trappings. Romeo and Juliet teaches us that romance, when allowed to run amok, can lead us to tragedy. Romance produces powerful emotions that could cause us to overlook key areas of incompatibility that ultimately contribute to a less than satisfying relationship.
In an analysis of the relationship between emotional intelligence and relationship satisfaction in romantic relationships, Malouff et al. (2014) found that the way we perceive and understand emotion is linked to how satisfied we are in a romantic relationship. When we accurately recognize emotions, understand the causes of emotional experiences, effectively regulate emotions, and harness our emotions to help us make decisions, romantic relationships tend to be more satisfying. This tells us that romance alone does not lead to relationship satisfaction (even unhealthy relationships have their romantic moments, after all); rather, our emotional intelligence, and its role in helping us make healthy, relationship-enhancing choices, works with romance to build a strong relationship.
Too Much or Too Little
Romance is meant to compliment love’s other faces such as fidelity and reliability. It should not be the only or primary way we experience and express love in a relationship. Valuing romance too much could lead us to act unwisely (like Romeo and Juliet) or cause us to underappreciate other important characteristics of a loving relationship. Is there such a thing as too much romance? Yes. Imagine how out of hand it would get if someone sent you flowers at work every hour on the hour, day in day out, as a symbol of love. Romance like this is absurd. On the other hand, valuing romance too little can lead us to neglect the intoxicating and provocative, making a relationship monotonous, boring, and platonic. Couples who forget the importance of romantic gestures like love notes, gifts, sensual kisses, and moments of passion are likely nothing more than good friends. Even though romance has a tendency to ebb and flow, it should always play an important role in defining and sustaining a romantic relationship.