Romance is in the Air: Majorities Agree Relationships Can’t Last Long Term Without Romance

Who says no one makes phone calls anymore? Talking on the phone is seen as the best way of keeping long distance romance alive – even among Millennials

05:00 AM EST Feb 4, 2016 Rating
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Romance is in the Air: Majorities Agree Relationships Can’t Last Long Term Without Romance

New York, N.Y. — Looking at store shelves across the country, one might assume the way to happy relationship is through candy and flowers. But if the Beatles are right, and you can’t buy me love, how do you keep the love alive? Three quarters of adults (74%) agree that relationships can’t last long term without romance, heavily trumping the 35% who believe romance is overrated.

In a nod to old stereotypes, men are more likely than women to say romance is overrated (39% vs. 32% women), as are those with kids under 18 in the house (“parents” - 41% vs. 32% those without). And maybe there is something jaded in the city air, because nearly half of urbanites think romance is overrated, as opposed to only three in ten suburbanites and rural Americans (46% vs. 31% & 29%, respectively).

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,252 U.S. adults surveyed online between December 9 and 14, 2015.

Modern Love

So what actually counts as a romantic activity? Heading outdoors and breaking bread both seem to up the romance quotient, with between eight in 10 and nine in 10 seeing each of the following as “very” or “somewhat” romantic:

And though it doesn’t explicitly require food, it does often involve popcorn and other munchies: 71% of adults see a trip to the movies as romantic. 

Just over half of Americans each believe attending a concert (54%) and visiting an art gallery/museum (51%) are romantic activities; and as it happens, these find the most favor among adults with household incomes of over $100K (65% & 62%, respectively).

While not scoring as high among Americans as a whole (36%), a majority of Millennials (53%, vs. 39% Gen Xers, 25% Baby Boomers, and 17% Matures), feel “binging” a TV show at home counts as a romantic activity. 

Three in 10 Americans each believe going bowling (29%) or to a sporting event (28%) is a romantic activity, while only 16% say the same about playing video games. And perhaps the older we get the less into games we become, because Millennials are also the main driving force behind these options’ popularity.

Call Me Maybe

But how do you keep the romance alive when you’re miles – perhaps oceans – apart? When asked which options (from a provided list) they’d consider doing to keep the romance alive in a long distance relationship, the humble telephone is the top selection, with eight in 10 (79%) saying they’d give talking on the phone a go.

Two-thirds (67%) would look to go on vacation together (67%), while roughly six in 10 each might surprise their significant other with a visit (63%) or meet halfway between where they and their partner live (59%).   

Next up is a battle between old-school and new-school: half of Americans each would be up for writing letters (53%) or video-chatting (52%) to keep the long distance flame aglow. And while it might not surprise you to learn that younger generations – especially Millennials – are the bigger fans of video-chatting (62% Millennials, 52% Gen Xers, 49% Baby Boomers vs. 32% Matures), some may be surprised to find that similar percentages of adults across generational lines would be up for writing letters (49%, 55%, 54%, 54%, respectively).

Many would consider sending selfies to one another, with the G-rated sort (27%) outpacing the X-rated variety (18%), and sexting experimenters land right between the two (23%).  Roughly two in 10 would consider doing something together, even if they’re apart: “virtually” watching a movie or TV show (22%), “virtually” eating a meal together (20%), or reading the same book as their partner (19%).

You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling

So with all these romantic possibilities, are Americans actually taking advantage of them?  Unfortunately, nearly half of Americans (46%) say they have a significant other who they wish was more romantic, a sentiment which particularly resonates among younger generations (53% Millennials and 49% Gen Xers vs. 43% Baby Boomers and 34% Matures). But at least there’s hope, since a third of adults have had their shortcoming pointed out to them: 34% have been told they are not romantic enough. And though men and women are equally likely to wish their significant other were more romantic (45% men vs. 48% women), men are considerably more likely to hear about it if they’re falling short – 42% have been told they’re not romantic enough, compared to only 27% of women.

But let it be known, no matter how many great romantic activities you plan, being there is the most important part. Seven in ten Americans agree (70%) that just being with their significant other is romantic enough for them.

 

 


TABLE 1a 

LEVEL OF ROMANCE ASSOCIATED WITH VARIOUS ACTIVITIES

Summary Grid

“Now we’d like to ask you a few questions about romance and relationships. Thinking about some of the activities you could do with a significant other, how romantic do you consider each of the following?”

Base: All adults

 

ROMANTIC (NET)

Very romantic

Somewhat romantic

NOT ROMANTIC (NET)

Not that romantic

Not at all romantic

%

%

%

%

%

%

Going on a picnic

87

39

48

13

9

5

Going for a walk

86

30

55

14

10

4

Eating at a restaurant

84

26

58

16

13

3

Preparing a home-cooked meal together

83

38

45

17

12

5

Going out to a movie

71

17

54

29

20

9

Attending a concert

54

12

42

46

30

16

Visiting an art gallery/museum

51

12

39

49

32

17

“Binging” a TV show at home

36

9

27

64

32

31

Going bowling

29

7

22

71

37

34

Going to a sporting event

28

6

22

72

36

36

Playing video games

16

5

11

84

25

59

Note: Percentages may not add up to exactly 100% due to rounding

 


TABLE 1b

LEVEL OF ROMANCE ASSOCIATED WITH VARIOUS ACTIVITIES

Summary of Romantic (NET)

By Generation and Gender

“Now we’d like to ask you a few questions about romance and relationships. Thinking about some of the activities you could do with a significant other, how romantic do you consider each of the following?”

Base: All adults

 

Total

Generation

Gender

Millennials (18-35)

Gen X
(36-50)

Baby Boomers (51-69)

Matures (70+)

Male

Female

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Going on a picnic

87

89

90

84

76

86

87

Going for a walk

86

88

87

85

78

84

88

Eating at a restaurant

84

86

82

84

80

85

83

Preparing a home-cooked meal together

83

90

85

78

72

83

83

Going out to a movie

71

74

72

69

65

73

69

Attending a concert

54

57

46

55

56

57

51

Visiting an art gallery/museum

51

57

57

45

38

52

50

“Binging” a TV show at home

36

53

39

25

17

36

37

Going bowling

29

49

25

19

8

30

28

Going to a sporting event

28

42

26

20

12

29

27

Playing video games

16

34

13

5

3

19

14

Note: Percentages may not add up to exactly 100% due to rounding


TABLE 1c

LEVEL OF ROMANCE ASSOCIATED WITH VARIOUS ACTIVITIES

Summary of Romantic (NET)

By Household Income

“Now we’d like to ask you a few questions about romance and relationships. Thinking about some of the activities you could do with a significant other, how romantic do you consider each of the following?”

Base: All adults

 

Total

Household Income

$3.49K or less

$35K –$49.9K

$50K – $74.5K

$75K – 99.9K

$100K+

%

%

%

%

%

%

Going on a picnic

87

89

87

82

85

90

Going for a walk

86

85

88

80

87

91

Eating at a restaurant

84

82

86

76

87

88

Preparing a home-cooked meal together

83

86

87

78

81

86

Going out to a movie

71

71

70

65

72

76

Attending a concert

54

52

52

47

49

65

Visiting an art gallery/museum

51

52

47

41

48

62

“Binging” a TV show at home

36

38

36

31

29

46

Going bowling

29

32

26

24

28

34

Going to a sporting event

28

29

30

20

25

37

Playing video games

16

18

15

13

10

24

Note: Percentages may not add up to exactly 100% due to rounding

 


TABLE 2a

ROMANTIC ACTIVITIES FOR LONG DISTANCE RELATIONSHIPS

By Generation and Gender

“Which of the following would you consider doing to keep the romance alive while in a long distance relationship?”

Base: All adults

 

Total

Generation

Gender

Millennials (18-35)

Gen X
(36-50)

Baby Boomers (51-69)

Matures (70+)

Male

Female

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Talking on the phone

79

75

82

83

76

75

84

Going on vacation together

67

62

69

73

61

63

71

Surprising them with an in person visit

63

65

70

62

50

60

67

Meeting halfway between where each of you live

59

53

63

62

57

52

64

Writing letters

53

49

55

54

54

47

57

Video-chatting

52

62

52

49

32

50

54

Send each other G-rated selfies

27

39

34

17

8

27

28

Sexting

23

39

27

10

4

26

21

“Virtually” watching a movie or TV show together

22

31

26

14

9

19

25

“Virtually” eating a meal

20

30

20

13

8

17

22

Reading the same books

19

25

15

17

17

17

21

Send each other X-rated selfies

18

32

20

7

3

20

16

None of the above

8

6

7

11

12

9

8

Note: Percentages may not add up to exactly 100% due to rounding


TABLE 2b

ROMANTIC ACTIVITIES FOR LONG DISTANCE RELATIONSHIPS

By Long Distance Relationship Status

“Which of the following would you consider doing to keep the romance alive while in a long distance relationship?”

Base: All adults

 

Total

Long Distance Relationship

Ever (NET)

Never

%

%

%

Talking on the phone

79

81

78

Going on vacation together

67

69

64

Surprising them with an in person visit

63

66

60

Meeting halfway between where each of you live

59

60

56

Writing letters

53

54

50

Video-chatting

52

54

49

Send each other G-rated selfies

27

30

23

Sexting

23

27

17

“Virtually” watching a movie or TV show together

22

24

18

“Virtually” eating a meal

20

21

17

Reading the same books

19

22

15

Send each other X-rated selfies

18

21

13

None of the above

8

4

16

Note: Percentages may not add up to exactly 100% due to rounding

 


TABLE 3a

STATEMENTS ABOUT ROMANCE

Summary Grid

“How strongly to you agree or disagree with the following statements?”

Base: All adults

 

Agree (NET)

Strongly agree

Somewhat agree

Disagree (NET)

Somewhat disagree

Strongly disagree

Not applicable

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Relationships can’t last long term without romance.

74

37

37

26

17

9

-

Just being with a significant other is romantic enough for me.

70

30

40

21

14

7

9

I wish my significant other was more romantic.

46

21

25

34

20

15

19

Romance is overrated.

35

12

23

65

31

34

-

I’ve been told I am not romantic enough.

34

10

24

66

29

37

-

Note: Percentages may not add up to exactly 100% due to rounding

 

 

TABLE 3b

STATEMENTS ABOUT ROMANCE

Summary of Agree (NET)

By Generation and Gender

“How strongly to you agree or disagree with the following statements?”

 

Total

Generation

Gender

Millennials (18-35)

Gen X
(36-50)

Baby Boomers (51-69)

Matures (70+)

Males

Females

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Relationships can’t last long term without romance.

74

77

76

71

70

77

71

Just being with a significant other is romantic enough for me.

70

69

67

71

73

74

66

I wish my significant other was more romantic.

46

53

49

43

34

45

48

Romance is overrated.

35

39

37

30

33

39

32

I’ve been told I am not romantic enough.

34

39

34

33

24

42

27

Note: Percentages may not add up to exactly 100% due to rounding

 


TABLE 3c

STATEMENTS ABOUT ROMANCE

Summary of Agree (NET)

By Generation and Gender

“How strongly to you agree or disagree with the following statements?”

 

Total

Parent Status

Long Distance Relationship

Parent of child under 18

Parent of child 18+ only or not a parent

Ever (Net)

Never

%

%

%

%

%

Relationships can’t last long term without romance.

74

79

72

76

71

Just being with a significant other is romantic enough for me.

70

71

69

71

68

I wish my significant other was more romantic.

46

63

39

50

41

Romance is overrated.

35

41

32

34

36

I’ve been told I am not romantic enough.

34

45

29

36

31

 


TABLE 4

LONG DISTANCE RELATIONSHIPS

 “What is the longest you have ever been in a long distance relationship?”

Base: All adults

 

Total

%

Ever (NET)

62

Less than 1 year (NET)

32

Less than 3 months

9

Between 3 and 6 months

12

More than 6 months, but less than 1 year

11

More than 1 year (NET)

30

Between 1 and 2 years

12

More than 2 years, but less than 5 years

7

5 years or more

11

N/A – I have never been in a long distance relationship

38

Note: Percentages may not add up to exactly 100% due to rounding

 


Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online, in English, within the United States between December 9 and 14, 2015 among 2,252 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online. 

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

 

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris Poll.

 

Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

 

The Harris Poll® #11, February 4, 2016

By Hannah Pollack, Research Analyst, The Harris Poll

About The Harris Poll®

Begun in 1963, The Harris Poll is one of the longest running surveys measuring public opinion in the U.S. and is highly regarded throughout the world. The nationally representative polls, conducted primarily online, measure the knowledge, opinions, behaviors and motivations of the general public. New and trended polls on a wide variety of subjects including politics, the economy, healthcare, foreign affairs, science and technology, sports and entertainment, and lifestyles are published weekly. 

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