There are hundreds (thousands?) of different kinds of romantic relationships, so there should be hundreds of kinds of romantic songs. But there aren’t. Most songs about romance tell pretty much the same narrative; they are fairly heteronormative, monoganormative, and focusing on either sex or happily-ever-after as the end goal of the relationship–whereas many romances are not, or at least not all of those things all the time.
I’ve also taken issue with the tone of clingy desperation in many of the songs. Sure, there’s something poetic (and by now cliche) in the “I can’t live without you” stuff, but it’s not totally representative, and it certainly isn’t healthy. I’d like to think that more romances are based on “I feel happy with you” and that more breakups resolve with “We used to be happy together, but now we have to go our separate ways.” (Disclaimer: I am a hopeful, idealistic 20-something who is not yet married and is completely in love with his partner, so take whatever grains of salt you will.)
One category of romance that I have experienced quite a bit in my life (especially among dancers that I meet at exchanges and annual festivals) is the kind where you meet briefly, like each other, and hope to see each other again–and maybe you won’t, but you’ll both be okay and even feel really happy about the time you had together. And sometimes this category comes with a situation where one person is more invested or more wanting to pursue than the other–but that’s not really anyone’s fault, and (once again) you’ll still be okay. Maybe there’s sadness, but there isn’t hate. Even if this doesn’t happen as often for the rest of the world, I’d like to hope for more of it, and to hope for more songs that engender this feeling.
I submit “Josaphine” by Dispatch for that category. I like that the tone is longing but not needing; it’s hopeful and not desperate; it’s gracious and forgiving instead of bitter–maybe a bit bittersweet.
So if you’re still reading and haven’t listened to the song yet, click play and give it a good listen. Then you can tell me how you totally disagree with my assessment or thank me for my thoughtful commentary