Romance is the expressive and pleasurable feeling from an emotional attraction to another person associated with love. In the context of romantic love relationships, romance usually implies an expression of one's strong romantic love, or one's deep and strong emotional desires to connect with another person intimately.
During the initial stages of a romantic relationship, there is more often more emphasis on emotions—especially those of love, intimacy, compassion, appreciation, and affinity—rather than physical intimacy. Within an established relationship, romantic love can be defined as a freeing or optimizing of intimacy in a particularly luxurious manner, or perhaps in greater spirituality, irony, or peril to the relationship. In culture, arranged marriages and betrothals are customs that may conflict with romance due to the nature of the arrangement. It is possible, however, that strong romance and love can exist between the partners in an arranged marriage.
The conception of romantic love was popularized in Western culture by the concept of courtly love. Chevaliers, or knights in the Middle Ages, engaged in what were usually non-physical and non-marital relationships with women of nobility of whom they served. These relations were highly elaborate and ritualized in a complexity that was steeped in a framework of tradition, which stemmed from theories of etiquette derived out of chivalry as a moral code of conduct. Currently, courtship is the period in a couple's relationship which precedes their engagement and marriage, or establishment of an agreed relationship of a more enduring kind. In courtship, a couple gets to know each other and decides if there will be an engagement or other such agreement. A courtship may be an informal and private matter between two people, or it may be a public affair or formal arrangement with family approval.
Types of Romantic Love
Romantic love is contrasted with platonic love which in all usages precludes sexual relations, yet only in the modern usage does it take on a fully asexual sense, rather than the classical sense in which sexual drives are sublimated. Unrequited love can be romantic in different ways: comic, tragic, or in the sense that sublimation itself is comparable to romance, where the spirituality of both art and egalitarian ideals is combined with strong character and emotions. Unrequited love is typical of the period of romanticism, but the term is distinct from any romance that might arise within it.
Romantic love may also be classified according to two categories: "popular romance" and "divine or spiritual" romance. Popular romance may include but is not limited to the following types: idealistic, normal intense, predictable as well as unpredictable, consuming, intense but out of control, material and commercial, physical and sexual, and finally grand and demonstrative. Divine romance may include, but is not limited to these following types: realistic, as well as plausible unrealistic, optimistic as well as abiding.
Tragedy and Other Social Issues
The "tragic" contradiction between romance and society is most forcibly portrayed in literature, in Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, in Flaubert's Madame Bovary, and William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. The female protagonists in such stories are driven to suicide as if dying for a cause of freedom from various oppressions of marriage. Reciprocity of the sexes appears in the ancient world primarily in myth where it is in fact often the subject of tragedy, for example in the myths of Theseus and Atalanta. Noteworthy female freedom or power was an exception rather than the rule, though this is a matter of speculation and debate.
The conception of romantic love was popularized in Western culture by the concept of courtly love.