LUKE Howard said he stopped playing after being punched in the head on Monday, at around 4am.

Thus ended the “romantic” gesture of a young man from Bath who pledged to win back his ex-girlfriend by playing the piano persistently in a public park until she agreed to return to him.

The dictionary definition of romantic suggests it is an expression conducive to or characterised by the expression of love – or, alternatively, characterised or suggestive of an idealised view of reality.

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I’d argue that it was the latter category of romantic Mr Howard falls into – along with those who have applauded his efforts as a heart-warming display of rom-com-worthy love.

Whether it’s Disney, Hugh Grant, The Notebook or the procession of princes and princesses marrying their way through our childhoods, we are subjected to a tirade of perfect romantic propositions from the earliest age, ideas of our perfect partners sculpted in celluloid and fed to us on repeat until we are societally demented with the idea of love.

Mr Howard told a local reporter that his grand musical gesture was a last-ditch attempt to win back the woman he calls his “Rapunzel” in a bid to live happily ever after.

The reporter fell for the fairy tale, crafting an article that painted a portrait of a heartbroken 34-year-old thwarted by love, every inch the gallant gentleman deserving of his princess.

That reporter, like the lovelorn musician himself, was arguably viewing the events from a perspective crafted by expectations thrust upon us all, the whole affair promoting a narrative so pervasive it goes often unnoticed, the resulting way of seeing so normalised that this man’s act can be pitched to the world as the epitome of romance rather than as something more concerning.

And to me, it does seem a concerning thing to set up a piano in a park and tinkle away until you get punched in your persistent pursuit of a woman who told you she did not want to be your partner.

The problem with the enduring Disneyfication of love is that it can very easily mask a host of concerning behaviours, as anyone who has endured so-called “love bombing” can attest. What appears at first take to be the pinnacle of romantic behaviour can often be reinterpreted later down the line as a warning sign.

Relentless attention, constant communication, the desire to be with a partner at all times and declarations of undying love after an unfeasibly short relationship are all traits that could so easily be translated in the cold light of day as early markers of jealousy, possessiveness, coerciveness and control.

Admittedly, I know nothing about Mr Howard’s short relationship with his former partner of just four months. Many will say that his response to being dumped by his girlfriend is romantic.

But I think it’s the manifestation of social conditioning that teaches entitlement via a cultural drip-feed of romance, a prime example of a man chasing his happily ever after even as he tramples all over Rapunzel’s clearly drawn boundaries, rejecting her rejection in his determination to pursue his own fairy-tale ending.