Whether it be Valentine’s Day, an anniversary, a wedding or intimate getaway, romance is a promising thing too often coupled with pressure, expectations, and passive aggressive sighs.
This is because humans are complicated and fraught with baggage of the mind and the heart. People have existential worries and overcook their dinner. People cry over lasagna and forget to tip their waitress. People send drunk “I love you” texts then drop their phones in a toilet.
People have a lot to learn.
Perhaps we should be embarrassed that our best teachers are literally non-sentient beings with a fraction of our brain power, but sometimes humiliation is what it takes to realize your love game is weak. Here are some romantic gestures animals are doing way better than you.
When was the last time you sang to your loved one? If never, why not, and if recently, was it any good? When serenading, one must be both earnest and talented, like the frog, and the koula. Okay, so the koula isn’t that talented. But humpback whales are, and they’ll sing for days to get attention.
The humpback whale would never forget our song, “Everything” by Michael Bublé.
Ballroom dancing is much more romantic than grinding, but what’s more romantic than ballroom dancing? Try 8-hour underwater dancing, like the sea horse. Or moonwalking, like the manakin. Flamingos dance, scorpions dance, even dung beetles dance. What’s your excuse?
The manakin would never stay in and play video games on salsa night.
It’s like you don’t even care about how you look anymore. I mean, just look at your shoes. Would your partner approve? No one likes a slob.
The blue-footed boobie would never show up to a date without strong sock game.
Building a house
These days, everyone’s all “let’s move in together” instead of “let me build or weave you a home out of the nicest pebbles I can find.” The latter shows a bit more commitment.
Male penguins collect and even squabble over beautiful pebbles with which to build intricate nests in anticipation of their longtime mates’ arrival. The bowerbird puts together a glorious honeymoon suite by decorating his bachelor pad with shiny trinkets.
The bowerbird would never rent a shoddy apartment he couldn’t afford — but if he did, he would spruce it up with Pinterest-inspired DIY projects.
Watches and Amazon gift cards are utterly yawn-worthy in comparison to the Barnyard owl’s presentation of a freshly killed mouse to his spouse, spiders’ impressive silk-wrapped prey parcels, or moths’ special delivery of cyanide to protect the female’s eggs.
The spider would never re-gift a 5-year-old T shirt to save money.
Humans are sort of monogamous by habit, but with divorce rates at 50 percent, sticking together is hardly a strong point. For advice on making a long-term relationship work, look not to a shrink, but to the sky: not God, but birds.
The beaver would never move to Amsterdam to “find himself.” Or maybe he wood.
Why stick around for the long game if you can just swipe right on somebody else? In a world of instant gratification, it’s easy to move on to the next best thing when we perceive difficulty. Not so for the hummingbird. He will come back to the same place, every day, for eight months, to sing for as long as eight hours.
The albatross may take up to ten years to select a partner, looking to his elders as an example. Once a partner is chosen, the two will create a language unique to them before mating. The divorce rate is zero.
The albatross would wait at least ten dates (or decades) before making a move.
Raising a family
Finally, when there are babies involved, it’s not uncommon for one parent to be stuck with the brunt of the work. Few creatures live and love together as harmoniously as flamingos, who build a nest out of mud together, take turns incubating eggs, and then share all parenting duties.
The flamingo would not tell his lady to make him a ham sandwich, nor would he forget Talulah’s ballet recital.