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That Tender-Sweet Sense of Belonging

There’s this elusive thing that’s always made mention of, that “feeling” that comes with being content. Maybe even with being in love. And I’m not referring to infatuation, the first kiss, or even the feelings you might have after a proposal or major event like being married or the birth of a child. I’m talking about “that tender-sweet sense of belonging.”

It’s that feeling that you’re where you need to be, when you need to be there, doing what you should be doing, with the person you should be doing it with.

OK. Those are a lot of variables, and many of us will never meet all the conditions. But just one of them can be the right one. Like being in the right job. Or going to dinner with the right friend. Or being in a partnership with the best possible person for you.

I think that’s why I enjoy romance novels so much. Because you get a brief taste of “that tender-sweet sense of belonging.” The writer takes you on a journey of self-discovery, through the warmth of a passionate affair, and on to the happy-ever-after.

According to Wikipedia, a romance novel “must have an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending.”

Optimism. Maybe that’s the draw. Helen Keller has been quoted as having said “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” Hope and confidence, isn’t that what’s really within the pages of a romance novel?

I happen to be a big fan of the kick-ass heroine. And all of my books feature one. There’s not a woman waiting for a man to save her. She’s fully capable of saving herself, but would love to bring him along on her journey. And let him kick a little tail, along the way, too, of course. She might even take him in hand once or twice as events meander along. Maybe “take him to task” is a better way to say that. Although the first one sounds like more fun.

There goes that “tender-sweet sense of belonging” rearing its beautiful head. For where there is romance, there is an opportunity for optimism and hope.

If I was a good liar, I would wax poetic about everlasting love, how long I’ve been blissfully married, and other romantic notions. But I won’t, because life’s not always blissful. When you can’t close your bedroom door because you have children knocking, or you can’t find a sitter for date night, or you couldn’t find time to take a shower that day, you might not be able to draw up enough energy to nurture a love affair. Or even draw up a good martini so you can pretend there’s a love affair going on. Yet there’s always hope. And an escape into a good book, where the two main characters are always going to be a hero and a heroine, because they’re made in your dreams, in your fantasies, in your idle time, and most importantly, in your image.

When discussing optimism, one would do well to remember what McLandburgh Wilson had to say:

Twixt the optimist and the pessimist,
The difference is droll:
The optimist sees the doughnut,
But the pessimist sees the hole.

In the grand scheme of things, I’ll take the doughnut. I might even make the doughnut and spread optimism through the pages of a book. Wait. That's not my goal. I write because it’s fun. And hope my readers see that in my pages. Can you see that “tender-sweet sense of belonging” in your life, or something you’ve read?

I can, when my husband brings home Diet Dr. Pepper without me having to ask.

Lydia Dare


  1. Hey, Lydia, terrific post! I've read where the pheromones of attraction last only so long in a relationship (instinctual), and then we have to do something to kick the chemistry back into gear--to renew the love. One of my co-workers was "celebrating" her 33rd anniversary. But not really. She said they were an old married couple (had to have been married really young because neither look like an old married couple.) But the spark was gone from their marriage. Why not do something to get it back? At least they have made the commitment! Others will just give up midstream (I'm thinking Judi-isms and her mermen...can't quit thinking of them, actually...:)) and want something new and exciting. But that new and exciting will wear off too. So we have to make sure it doesn't! In romance books, the pheromones are only half of the trigger, and naturally so. Then, it's the real thing, and the little things--remembering the Dr Pepper, for one, for our mate, and the big things, like another co-worker who's husband took her to a Mexican restaurant, when he doesn't like Mexican food, to see an Elvis Presley knockoff on her birthday! :) Great post!

  2. Oh, oh, yes, I have to go to work, but I just HAD to comment on the whole donut hole deal...he must not have known about donut holes--tasty little remnants of rounded donut covered in sugary glaze, and someone told me that they actually have chocolate ones somewhere.

  3. Terry - Dunkin' Donuts has the donut holes, they're called Munchkins and they're yummy.

    Lydia~ Great post. Your post brought back a memory I hadn't thought about in forever. During our wedding ceremony (an hour-long Catholic Mass), my soon-to-be DH and I were standing there holding hands and he bent over to give me a kiss because it was so natural, he kissed me all the time. I moved toward him too before I remembered we weren't supposed to kiss until the end of the ceremony, so I had to stop us both.

    I totally related to everything you said, the optimism, the tender-sweet sense of belonging, and wishing there were three locked doors between my children and my bathroom. I was at a critique meeting a few weeks ago and it had started to snow (we ended up getting 40 inches when all was said and done.) He brought my big 4-wheel drive SUV over to the Starbucks and took my little Prius back so I wouldn't have a hard time getting up the driveway. My CPs all melted along with me. He's such a sweetie even after 20 years of marriage.

  4. What a great post, Lydia! As an optimist and someone who has found "that tender-sweet sense of belonging", I'm definitely seeing the donut, myself. Which is why I read and write romance. I believe it's out there for everyone, they just have to believe it for themselves, see the donut, so to speak, rather than the hole :)

  5. Hi Lydia. I loved the post, love the bookcover, and can't wait to read the book. And yes, Dr. Pepper is a great expression of true love.

  6. Great post. I've alwasy been a glass half-full person myself. After reading this I am even more in the mood to curl up with a romance novel on this cold, snowy day. I've been married for 24 yrs and it is the little things that count so much more than the big things.

  7. Lydia,
    What a wonderful post and I can't tell you how much it made feel all those things all over agian. I have to go with Amy on this one, it's the little things that count. All too often, the dramatic love affiar in the movies is what most people dream of and don't find because they don't realize once the initial excitement is gone, you find that contentment that you speak of.
    This last birthday, I was feeling pretty low and hubby knows I love that m&m commercial where the green lady m&m is posing and all the boy m&m's are speecless holding the camera equipment. I giggle over it all the time. So as an extra bonus he went and found me an entire bag of green m&m's and told me to let him know what it's like to eat a whole bag of girls. LOL. It was the cutest thing and of course we both have weird sense of humors anyway. But it completely made my day. It wasn't expensive, or even something I had wanted for a while but it was well thought out, tailored to me. Those are the gifts we appreciate the most. And you know who would've thought eating a bag of girls would be so fun LOL.

  8. Hi, Lydia. Great post. You expressed perfectly what I love about romances. It's the promise of the greatest love and the optimims that fills me when I think about that love.

  9. Nothing says love like Diet Dr. Pepper and donuts! :)


  10. Lydia, this truly is a marvelous post. It hits me very much where I live - within my writing I mean. I believe in the happy ever after knowing, as you said, that it isn't always easy and filled with hearts and roses. But long lasting commitment and devotion are possible, even after the wildness of first passion dims a bit. I TOTALLY believe in that! I live it in my own marriage and convey that in my saga. I just wish everyone could grasp onto the concept and do their utmost to make it happen in real life.

    Romance can be candle lit dinners, fancy resort vacations, and red roses for no reason. That is fabulous. But it is also the simple things like a hubby who makes fresh espresso each morning, who goes out in the rain to do the shopping for you, who calls you on his work break just to say hi, who buys you a huge desk calendar you hate because he wants to help you stay organized in your writing. And so on....

  11. What a great post! I love the Dr. Pepper part. It's the little things that count.

  12. Great post. Sometimes the same gestures mean the most in a relationship. Love the cover of your book, looking forward to reading it.

  13. Yes, the little things that give us the ahhh moments.

    I love stuffed animals and have quite a few from dh's business trips because he'd see one that he knew I should have. And because he talked about it when he was in England for 2 mos on business, one of his co workers there brought back a Euro Disney Mickey Mouse for me.

    And some days even taking out the trash is a nice thing. :}

  14. I feel it every time my DH walks through the door. Yep, he's the one!

  15. Well done, Lydia.

    I think you touched everyone with your post.


  16. Lydia, I really enjoyed this blog. I feel much like you do with my writing. I definitely belong here! Thanks for the uplifting blog!


  17. Thank you for a great uplifting post. The importance of hope cannot be underestimated!

  18. Great post! Gave me a renewed sense of appreciation for the tender-sweet moments in my life.
    Lucie J.

  19. Aw, gee - I think I might cry and its way to early in my day for that. I write because I enjoy it too, but I will have to take your word on the sweet gesture of bringing Diet Dr Pepper. Never tasted. Great post!

  20. Late to the party, but wanted to add one more GREAT POST, Lydia!

    Diet Dr. Pepper or Diet Pepsi -- just don't bring me Diet Coke! :-)

    For me, I think that tender-sweet sense comes from knowing my DH is my best friend as well as my lover.


  21. Love it! So many people don't understand why we read romance, but I think this sums it up well. Here's to those moments when they are in our own lives, and reading about them when they are not :)


  22. Late to the pary too, but wanted to thank you for a terrific post! And yes, belonging somewhere to someone somewhen, is a vital part of happiness.


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