Set the scene: it’s the early 2000s, and a conventionally attractive budding girlboss sets aside her career aspirations as a publisher to give love another shot, after years of being jaded by heartbreak after heartbreak.
Somewhere towards the end of the second act, her softboy prince charming (who she met rather serendipitously) messes up because his equally turbulent love life has made him cold, weary, and afraid of getting his heart hurt.
Naturally, this leads up to the main conflict of the movie, and just as she’s about to connotatively give up on love entirely by denotatively boarding a flight to [insert plot-specific location here], he runs into the airport, bouquet in hand, grandiose declarations of love prepared, and gets to her just in time.
She’s a bit apprehensive at first, but as his monologue on how she changed him and made him into a better man builds up, her heart swells up concurrently and, against her better judgement, she forgives him.
They kiss passionately for approximately five to ten seconds in real time, and 15 to 20 seconds in slow-motion.
The non-playable characters in the background cheer, and they live happily ever after.
Growing up homosexual, and consequently unable to explore love physically, cult-classic chick flicks were how I characterised love: a by-chance meet-up at a coffee shop followed grand gestures of affection the minute any conflict arises, followed by an almost immediate conflict resolution.
In my teen years, this morphed into angsty portrayals of an undying, but equally toxic love affair, characterised by not only conventionally romantic grand gestures but now also by life-altering ‘romantic’ grand gestures.
Like, was it really love if your age-inappropriate vampire boyfriend wasn’t willing to risk it all to save you from the life-threatening situations you continued to put yourself in? No!
However, after I got my first boyfriend, and my second, and my third, it quickly dawned on me that there’s nothing more suspicious than a man with a grand gesture.
Though I’m mostly kidding (I’m not lol), the more I continued to invest in failed love story after failed love story, the more I began to realise that it wasn’t large bouquets of roses or three clicks worth of ‘read mores…’ on WhatsApp that characterised the purity of love.
Rather, love, in its purest form, lay in the small, everyday gestures of affection: a kiss on the forehead, the willingness to be vulnerable with another person, spending time with one another even if it’s doing absolutely nothing together, a consistently strong desire for missionary, and, of course, selfless acts of service.
An aptly titled study, 'Enduring Love', conducted in the United Kingdom by the Open University seems to back this up (kind of).
In the two-year study with almost 5,000 people on how to make love last in the 21st century, the university found that grandiose gestures we’re so often love-bombed with in the media were not as important to keep that spark alive as many of us had been groomed to believe.
Rather, it is consistent selfless gestures showing your partner that you love them, ultimately, that means more than telling them that, either through words or bouquets.
Interestingly enough, of all these acts of service, making your partner a cup of tea seemed to come out on top as the most significant gesture of affection in romantic relationships.
“In the modern age of technology, when we are communicating more than ever before, real, and personal connections seem to be waning,” said spokesperson for the SA Rooibos Council (SARC) Adele du Toit.
“Taking the time to make a cup of tea for our spouse or partner helps to rebuild lost or broken connections while expressing our desire to care for them… [because it is] designed to build deeper and more meaningful relationships,” she continued.
And it makes sense - making your partner a cup of tea is not only a physical gesture of affection, but allows you to be mindful and present with them whilst doing it, opening the channel for meaningful connection.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a simp that literally romanticises everything, so I do love me a good grand gesture.
However, it’s the quieter moments when no one is looking, or when the gesture feels less of a requirement and more of an act of kindness, that makes me feel connected to my partner, that makes me feel their love and not just see it.
“Showing affection to your loved one on Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to break the bank. While appreciated, grand romantic gestures aren’t always as nurturing as connecting with the one you love over a cup of tenderly made Rooibos,” Du Toit said.
Regardless of what the act might be, we all want to be seen, we all want to be heard, and we all want to feel love in a meaningful way.
So, though special occasions like Valentine’s Day or a birthday or an anniversary are almost designed to cough up the coint for a note-worthy gesture, it’s what we do every day that truly shows our partner that we love them – as corny as that may sound.
Now, go forth and show your partner how much you love them, because haikus are out, and Rooibos is in!
P.S. For any potential suitors out there looking for an eligible former twink heartthrob – I prefer coffee.