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Romance is alive and well

How do I know that? Because 23 million Americans tuned in to watch Kate and William get hitched, and the number worldwide reached as many as 2 billion! Even Dunkin’ Donuts got in on the royal wedding with a heart-shaped donut, which signified “the love between Prince William and Catherine,” now the Duke and Dutchess of Cambridge. The doughnut was filled with jelly to show how their lives would be filled with happiness. The white frosting represented the wedding gown (which was far more elegant) and the chocolate drizzle stood for William’s love for chocolate. Okay, I’m with them on that one.

I think it’s lovely that William and Kate got married after ten years of being together. Hopefully they both know what they’re getting into. Marriage can do a lot to destroy romance, even if you don’t have to live your life according to palace protocol.

Romance, that sentimental and idealized version of love, feeds on excitement and mystery. It takes us away from the doldrums of everyday life. Bodice-ripper romance novels have a huge following. Then again, so does porn. I’ve been shocked to learn that women seem to like porn almost as much as men do. Yet they still tune into the royal wedding and fantasize about being a princess.

What exactly is romance anyway? What sort of chemical imbalance blinds us to our loved one’s faults, to their potential for violence or lack of ethics? Why do we sign on for future heartbreak?

Up until very recently in history, marriages were mostly arranged. There was very little mixing and matching done across established boundaries of race or religion, not to mention gender. Romance usually involved tragedy—look what happened to Romeo and Juliet, who came from warring clans. Nowadays we’re expected to fall in romantic love, then get married and try to avoid being the 50 percent whose marriages fail.

What do we expect? That excitement and mystery will continue when she has to pick up his dirty underwear off the floor, when he has to deal with her crazy brother moving in “just temporarily,” when the economy collapses and there’s no money to pay the mortgage?

But something inside craves the possibilities inherent in romance. That brief respite from reality when we get swept off our feet, carried along on the wave of long talks over a candlelit dinner, holding hands as we walk along a moonlit beach, long languorous explorations of bodies, minds, and souls. We want to be known, to be “seen,” to be told we are beautiful and that we’ll never be alone again.

When we are in romantic love, we want to wallow in personal bliss, not do the long hard dirty work of healing our own wounds, telling our truth, standing in our own integrity.

But enough about reality. Back to the important stuff: jelly donuts with chocolate swizzles on top of a pure white heart . . .

Deborah King