There's much more to the romance genre than the common moniker "chick flick" allows for. While it's true that many romance films are little more than attempts to make female viewers swoon while looking at the likes of Hugh Grant and Keanu Reeves, some of the best movies ever made fall into this category. Gone With The Wind is a classic example of a romance film which transcends the genre just as James Cameron's Titanic is an excellent modern example. Sometimes even they guys have to admit that they have a softer side and sit down and enjoy a romantic comedy like My Best Friend's Wedding or Must Love Dogs.
These movies make us feel good because they're mostly about the good things in life. Even those with sad events or unhappy endings tell us something about how good life can be and they make us forget the negative things in our world. Romance movies don't have terrorists or murderers and they don't focus on the unpleasantness of the real world. They may deal with disease (nothing makes the tears well up like one of a pair of lovers suddenly being diagnosed with cancer) and death from time to time, but the overlying theme is always the power of love.
Romance movies show us the softer side of humanity and the things that people are willing to go through when in search of companionship. Whether it's one of the aforementioned comedies, a sweet love story like A Walk in the Clouds, or a sexually charged tale of fiery physical romance like 9 1/2 Weeks, these films are popular because they show us the one thing that we all really want - love.