Donal has a post on Romance, and I have a brief bit of time for a commenatary.
As a man growing up, and reading most of the stories of the men in the manosphere, and hearing about how things work in real life this is my observation.
Romance is going beyond loving others (for Christians) and showing a woman with special affection. If I wrote a poem to a woman who was attracted to me then it is romantic, but if I’m a person who wrote a poem to all woman regardless of whether they were attracted to me it loses its significance. Showering special affection through doing things (flowers, gifts, chivalry, etc.) — which is romance — after you win/attract them with words is fine. Doing them before is often just a fruitless waste of time.
I would say that men in general are taught to do things for women, typically romantic gestures. Men respond to this logically because we naturally are doers. We like action because it’s something that is straight forward and easy to accomplish, especially in terms of affection (e.g. buying gifts, holding open doors, or other “chivalrous” gestures). But romantic gestures are misguided if there is no attraction from the side of a woman.
As a man consider romantic affections from an obese 5’6″ 300 lbs woman and a 5’6″ 110 woman who looks like a model. Obviously, a man would be attracted to one and not the other, and it is not that hard to guess which one is which. Most men would be repulsed by the obese woman who showered affections on him, and be receptive to the woman who showered affections on him. The same is true with women, except that attraction is different between the sexes. Women will respond positively to attractive men that shower them with attention or gifts, and they will respond negatively to unattractive men that shower them with attention and gifts.
Interestingly enough as I noted in this post, the Scriptures speak to the point that husbands win their wives with their words and not their actions. Likewise, wives win their husbands with actions and not words. It all goes back to preferred communication style.
If a woman isn’t responsively attracted to you through your words then it’s pretty much fruitless to try to “impress her” with romantic actions because they will be seen as trying to gain validation and it is repulsive to her. The actions are seen as trying to buy her affection which is a huge turn off.
The only way actions will impress her is if it’s indirect such as say playing on the church worship team, or she sees your athleticism on the field of action, or she sees you teaching/coaching others through leadership. Although you may have the intent to impress her through what you do in such instances, it’s part of something greater so she will naturally be “attracted” to it rather than be “repulsed” by trying to prove your worth.
Specific advice to a Christian man who wants to date/court a woman is this. Love because God first loved us. But don’t give any special treatment of doing things — romance — unless you are interested in the woman and know she is attracted to you. If you do it to a woman who isn’t attracted you are wasting your time by being a nice guy.
Christian men, especially in the manosphere, need to understand this distinction. We love everyone because that is what we are command to do by Christ. But we should not be under the illusion that it does anything for attractiveness (though other actions can sometimes increase attractiveness peripherally). Rather, attractiveness is rooted in dominion, then if you want to display any type of romance it must be beyond the love that you show all others.
Romance in itself is fine. However, the main problem is that it is taught to men as the “main” step of winning a woman when, at best, it is the second step far and away.
Given that women typically don’t understand what is “attractive” to them like men do, I think the “romance” which is the overt gestures of affection were seen by most women as what attracted them. Thus, that’s why women say they want romance, but in reality only from men they are attracted to. Thus, romance isn’t wrong, but it’s often misdirected.
Jesus “romances” His Church per se in that He lets them into His world and business by giving them insider info on parables, teaching them personally, allowing them to participate in His ministry, and other such goodies.
edit: Ballista makes a good point that “romance” is not “love” and vice versa in the comments and the link posted. It would be wise to understand this because it is easy to get sent off on false doctrines if not.