So, I mentioned to Rowan that the only profound thing I’d said recently was that romance is like an instagram filter, and since they would obviously like to land me in the soup with my spicy takes, I accepted the invitation to expand on what I meant by that:

Basically, the context was that I was explaining to my therapist some recent episode of intra-community drama–I honestly don’t even remember which at this point–and I expressed my frustration that things like this kept happening when romance is fake anyway. And he was like, whoa whoa whoa, what do you mean romance is fake? And I was like, okay, you tell me: what is romance?

Because–and this is not news to my readers I’m sure–there are no behaviors or gestures that are unambiguously romantic. As a matter of fact, the things that are the most romantic are things that are highly specific to the people themselves and their context and would not be at all romantic if you swapped out even one of the parties.

There’s no there there. It’s not the content of the photo, it’s the rose-tinted filter you add on top.

And then he was like, “what’s an instagram filter?” so it kind of truncated my brilliant moment, but I do think he really grasped what I was saying in the end, so please, try it on all your muggle friends!


  1. while i don’t personally consider romance to be “fake” per se—anymore than actual filters or photos with filters applied are “fake”—but yeah. it certainly is a social construct and as a photo-geek, i love this analogy for describing it. <3


    1. Well, I was of course using “fake” in a flippant way, but the distinction I was making with the flippancy does come back to the idea that I am able to point to the “substance of the photo” when talking about other types of relationships. Now, I obviously might have a little bit of a blind spot when it comes to viscerally understanding what romance is, but I do think this distinction is not nothing…….

      (EDIT: Sorry, I thought I had to approve the comment, but clicking actually unapproved it, so, uh. I didn’t mean to hide it ><)


      1. oh, i agree that the distinction itself isn’t nothing. 100% agree, and as i said, i love the analogy.

        it’s just the use of the word “fake”– be it intentionally flippant or not– that got me, because language is kinda my thing and the overuse of “fake” as a means of discrediting ‘real’ things that just happen to be social constructs like romance– and, tangentially, also as “fake” is used to discredit people on Instagram who describe themselves as photographers while relying heavily on [digital] filters (among other things), but who couldn’t use an actual camera to save their lives– is a bit of a sore spot for me, i guess, so…

        tl;dr don’t mind me! carry on. 👍🏿✨


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