Though the words are often used interchangeably, romance and passion are not the same. Neither do they apply to only romantic relationships. Most importantly, neither creates the other, nor is it necessary for both to co-exist. When you think about it, they have little in common.
At the most fundamental level, romance is something that can be made, passion is not. With passion, you either have it or you don’t. And when you do, you have it in spades. You can’t be a ‘little passionate’ or over-passionate about something. You either are or you aren’t. Make especial notice of the ‘are’ aspect of it, because passion is not something you can voluntarily come up with. Whether something is a crime of passion or a gift of it, there is little self-will and restraint involved. Despite our daily assessment of growing apathy in the modern world, passion is still present as ever. You don’t become apathetic per se, you are just passionate towards something, and not passionate towards others. Passion is simply your ability to feel things. The word comes from the Latin patior, which means suffering. Humanity is at its truest, most honest, when it suffers. Joy is but fleeting, gone before you can know it for what it is. Whether it is overt, intense, on the surface or not, suffering, passion, is your basic response to this world, both in its microcosm and its macrocosm, that you as an individual are surrounded by. You can’t learn it, fake it, or make it.
Romance, on the other hand, is more cerebral. It is a learned response, and more behavioural than spontaneous, even though spontaneity is thought to be a romantic quality in modern life. When you give love a bad name, it’s really romance you mean. Romance isn’t bad per se, nor is it that distant from natural human behaviour. Behaviours are often the results of deliberate cognitive decisions, which are themselves informed by what the mind has processed so far about the world. That is, you feel it’s imperative that you’re supposed to bring flowers to a girl you like because it is a nice thing to do. And the girl feels the same way about it, because it is a nice thing to do. And while this whole act is a perfectly acceptable form of behaviour, it isn’t as thoughtful as it should appear. She gracefully accepts it, and genuinely appreciates you for it, but in most cases it isn’t customised to your individual relationship.
Which doesn’t mean romance isn’t imaginative. It solely rests in the imagination. The well-established reasons behind why some women tend to prefer romantic films and literature is simply that – it is much more imaginative, intellectually intriguing and emotionally expressive than real life tends to be. Romance is built on meaningful gestures and conversations. Flirting isn’t a simple flick of the hair, it is a verbal art, where an understanding of human behaviour and psychology, of the power of words and expression, all come to the forefront to be expressed with complete ease. Only the most well-developed imaginations, with a clear connection with communication abilities are able to do it well, in a subtle manner.
It doesn’t sound noble when explained like that, but that does not mean it cannot serve a noble end. If you are passionate about something, you are driven to find means towards fulfilling that passion. Romance is just one of those means. It is a whole different ball game, but one worth exploring. Because even if you’ve been averse to it, finding it dishonest and clichéd, well, that’s just bad romance. Boring, unlike the truly interesting, inventive romance, where you can learn so much about people (and yourself) by their behaviour. How signals are sent out, how differently they are received and replied to, it is virtually a dance or a tennis match.
It is sad, however, that all this romance doesn’t necessarily create passion where apathy lives. The heart and mind can remain separate, and the mind can’t make the heart do whatever it wants. You just have to accept it for what it is.