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

Feb 04, 2016, 05:05 ET from The Harris Poll

NEW YORK, Feb. 4, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- 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. Full results of this study, including data tables, can be found here.

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:

  • Going on a picnic (87%),
  • Going for a walk (86%),
  • Eating at a restaurant (84%), and
  • Preparing a home-cooked meal together (83%). 

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.

  • Bowling: 49% Millennials vs. 25% Gen Xers, 19% Baby Boomers, & 8% Matures
  • Sporting event: 42% vs. 26%, 20%, & 12%, respectively
  • Video games: 34% vs. 13%, 5%, 3%, respectively

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%).

  • Looking specifically at Millennials, two fifths each would consider sexting (39%) and sending selfies of the G-rated sort (39%), while a third would be ready to show off their sexiest selves in some X-rated selfies (32%).

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.

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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. For more information, or to see other recent polls, visit the Harris Poll News Room.

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