Romance Required?

Have you ever noticed that movies and stories frequently have a romantic element?  Even a movie that doesn’t require the romantic storyline to advance the plot (like one of my favorites, The Italian Job) often has a love interest between two of the characters.  You’ll usually hear that this is to draw in the female crowd, especially when you find it in action movies.  (Perhaps the idea is that a guy can convince his girlfriend to accompany him to the movie if there’s a love-related subplot.)  On top of that, any movie with a primarily love-related story is immediately classified as a “chick flick” or some other female-related term.

Do women really require romance?

In all honesty, I have a romantic relationship in most of my books.  The attraction/dislike counterplay that my main characters feel towards each other is a major part of the plot in Dragon.  But my NaNo novel that I’m planning for this year doesn’t have that type of relationship between the main characters, and I think the story is still strong.

What is behind the female drive for romance?  It’s an interesting thing to think about, because it dances into two different concepts.  One is that this is something biological, that women have a yearning which fiction and Hollywood happily supply.  The other is almost opposite; that we are raised from childhood with images of romance and love and this has conditioned us to want those things as adults.

What are your thoughts on the issue?  Do you always include a romantic relationship in your tales?