Romanticism is a state of mind that stems from vulnerability and an open-hearted relationship with the world. A true romantic experiences compassion, empathy, curiosity and energy. Romantics are moved to the core by something, be it beauty, pain, sorrow, rage, joy, impermanence, diversity, loneliness or vastness. Whatever it is, it stirs a romantic to the bone. The wide-eyed wonder and open-hearted sensitivity of a child is easy for a true romantic to relate to. Of course, even romantics will endure disappointments and thus feel less moved by their surroundings for periods of time – but in their natural state, a romantic is sensitive to the nuances of the world.

Romanticism is feeling a song in the pit of your stomach. Filling yourself with the scent of a forest. Feeling chills run down your back from listening to a violin solo. Caressing a kitten and finding it so delicate and beautiful that you shake. Tearing up at the sight of a wounded bird. Feeling a raging volcano in your chest upon watching a video of children being abused. Being in awe of the vastness of nature. Feeling the grass between your toes. Learning something about yourself from observing an animal. Savoring the taste of a bloody steak and feeling energy run through you as you eat it. Listening to the beat of your own heart. Being mind blown by the vastness of space and curious about what it is made of. Pondering your own mortality and feeling grateful for the wonder of life. Feeling inspired by the integrity, brilliance, strength, honesty or beauty of a person, animal or plant.

Complimenting a lover in order to make them want to get naked with you, is not romanticism. It is seduction. It is, in essence, stimulating someone’s ego for the sake of a result. I have nothing against seduction. I am simply drawing a contrast. Daydreaming about a future with someone is not romanticism either. It is human to want a partner, and to wish to sustain a connection with someone you feel close to.

I am completely in favor of traditional acts of chivalry – but this is not the same as genuine romanticism. It may be coupled with romanticism, but in itself, that is not what it is. It is only romantic if every action is felt at the core. If you are dancing along with the flow of your feelings. It is romantic if it is an expression of how generous that person makes you feel and the kindness your lover awakens inside of you.

Traditionalism is romantic if and only if it is an expression of one’s beliefs and lifestyle, and genuine understanding and respect for the traditions it arose from. It may be romantic if it is an expression of reverence for your culture, the culture of specific ancestors, or a state of mind that you truly possess. But it is not romantic if someone walks a walk and does not feel the rhythm running through their core. I am not claiming it’s wrong or evil to do that, but simply that it is not romanticism.

My theory about why “romanticism” is conflated with relationships, is that being attracted to someone awakens certain hormones and chemicals which induce such a state temporarily. Expression of these feelings is known as “romance” – and that is not incorrect. But, a person is not innately “romantic” because they are turned on by the prospect of a relationship. A person is a romantic at heart if they are in a romantic relationship with the world, regardless of whether or not they are currently dating anyone. This romanticism, of course, will be augmented in love and shared with a lover, if it is part of someone’s general personality. However, if it is induced in someone solely by the prospect of sex and relationships, the person will fade back to their usual state in a long-term relationship.