On Saturday 10th September, Piano Guy, a 34-year-old man who, after a brief four month relationship, took to College Green in Bristol to perform an act of public humiliation in order to coax — or coerce — his former partner into being in a relationship with him. Worst of all, traditional media ate it all up.

Luke Howard, from Bath, decided that the best course of action was not to simply let bygones be bygones, or attempt to have an honest and open discussion with his ex-girlfriend. No, this particular fellow made the active decision to play his piano non-stop, until his “Rapunzel” takes him back.

Listen, there is nothing wrong with a bit of romance, but this is not romance. This is a calculated attack, a full-frontal assault on a woman who did not wish to continue a relationship with a man. She made a decision, she had every right to make that decision and by golly, she has more than every right to stick to her guns here.

Acts like this are so often romanticised by the media. Mr Howard is labelled as ‘heartbroken’ and ‘lovelorn’, as if his actions are just some grand romantic gesture, as if one and all should be swooning, or dare we say it, idolising this man. This is not sweet or cute; this is callous and egregious. This is a huge act of manipulation with the sole goal of forcing a woman to bend to this man’s will.

This isn’t just “I’ll play and I hope she hears me.” No, he has an Instagram, a Facebook page and Twitter dedicated to this whole charade. He wants it everywhere. Not only does he want her to see it, he wants to make it impossible for her to escape it. This is next level stalking for the millennial age, and it is dangerous.

piano-guy-college-green

CREDIT: Bristol Post

The ‘romantic gesture’ used to sweep someone off of her feet is common in movies, TV shows and even music videos. So often we see the leading man serenade his lost love, race to the airport, or crash a wedding, and you know what we do? We applaud these behaviours, as if a public declaration of unrequited love should be the key factor in establishing a healthy relationship, instead of something more reasonable (like maybe accepting that they’re just not that into you).

All stories like Piano Guy do is perpetuate the myth that women are nothing but a prize to be won, that women do not have their own minds and that with enough publicity, you can entrap someone into a relationship with you. Every share and retweet of this ‘romantic’ story promotes the idea that creepy, obsessive conduct is charming.

Let us tell you, it is not charming. Anyone who thinks it is, has obviously never been on the receiving end of such affection. It is not romantic to:

  • Wake up to the sound of your ex outside your house at midnight, refusing to leave until you love them back.
  • Change your locks because someone broke into your home to fill your house with flowers.
  • Find a sketchbook full of pictures of you, just you and no-one else.
  • Physically stop someone from running into traffic because you don’t want to be with them after a few months.
  • Be harassed by other people, demanding that you just ‘give him a chance’ and being branded heartless or a b*tch if you say no.

To any and all reading this, please understand that you do not have to feel pressured into a relationship with anyone. Your thoughts and feelings are valid, and please watch out for these acts of manipulation dressed up as romance. To anyone hoping to try these tactics we beseech you — and though this may be like talking to a brick wall — just don’t. Don’t be like Piano Guy. Seriously, he’s a tool and you’re better than that, or at least we hope you are.

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