>The Notion of Romantic Love… Is it just a Fantasy?

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After reading my last letter, a friend of mine asked the question why do we believe the unattainable notion of romantic love, why don’t we recognize that romantic love is an illusion and try to opt for a healthy partnership

I thought long and hard on this, I even looked up romantic love in the dictionary.  When I couldn’t find anything on that, I looked up romance and found some interesting explanations that I would like to share with you:
–  Formerly, a long narrative in verse or prose, originally written in one of the Romance dialects, about the   adventures of knights and other chivalric heroes.
–  Later, a fictitious tale of wonderful and extraordinary events, characterized by much imagination and idealization.
–  A type of novel in which the emphasis is on love, adventure, etc.
–  Excitement, love and adventure of the kind found in such literature.
–  An exaggeration or fabrication that has no real substance
– A love affair……

This was good, for a starting point but not enough to satisfy me, so I continued my search on the web for “romantic love”.

The first things that came on the right side of my screen were all kinds of websites to help me find my true love, my soul mate.   Well, I thought, is that what people need to find romantic love, look it up on the internet?????

Since I think I’m as set as I’m likely to be on that point I went on to check out what the web had to say and I did find something interesting.  One encyclopedia stated that the Anglo-Saxon scientific thought ignored the
process of falling in love and loving, treating it as a temporary cultural phenomenon and romantic love did not come into recognition as a passion until the Middle Ages.  When people couldn’t get together because of
overwhelming conventions or morality, rousing unfulfilled drives and emotions, they idealized the beloved and wrote songs, poetry to win over their love.   (In the end, Art won)
There was also an inclusive list of properties to look for in romantic love; how it must take you by surprise, how it cannot be easily controlled, and it is suppose to be the highest form of self-fulfillment, among other things.

One other important bit of information that kept on coming up was about the supposition that romantic love depended on the randomness of the encounters.  If this were true, does romantic love not exist outside of the western culture, where men and women do not mix as freely,
and arranged marriages are still the norm?  Sometimes those partnerships born out of arranged marriages seem to work out much better than their western counterparts because when the partners are matched up, ideally, their backgrounds and natures are suppose to be taken into consideration (something we might overlook at the heat of the moment?)
But not to worry, they say with globalization the ideas of love have spread throughout the world.  That really puts my mind at ease; now everyone around the world can be just as miserable as we are prone to be due to a lack of prospects.

Armed with all this knowledge, can we say that romantic love is nothing but a gross exaggeration?   Is it a complete fabrication that only exists in our minds?
Even if it is so, is it any less real????
If romantic love is just a fantasy, an ideal that can never be achieved, why do we persist on believing something that doesn’t exist?
Why keep on pursuing something that in the end might hurt or disillusion us?

I think Sophocles said it best – “One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: That word is Love.”

I am not a psychologist and I have not studied human nature academically but I do know that we all need to love and be loved.   And as a woman I feel that the idea of romantic love is essential in our lives to justify most of our relationships; let’s face it we do tend to be more benevolent and indulgent.   So why not put a nice face on it?

I think the problem is not with the concept of romantic love but our culture dictating how it is suppose to be.   We are told what romantic love looks like, feels like and what we have to do to possess it.  We are shown the way it is suppose to be and if we don’t comply then I guess we are not worthy of it.

I remember when we were first married, every time we came home from a romantic movie I wouldn’t talk to my husband because I was upset that he never looked at me the way the hero of the movie looked at his leading lady.  The poor guy had to spend hours trying to convince me that what we had was real and the actors on the screen were just that, actors, who took lessons in perfecting just those looks.   But I knew better, I had watched and read about love and romance enough to know what it looked like.  I had garnered my notions from fairy tales that were represented as real, all around me, so when faced with reality, it didn’t live up, no matter how sweet and poignant.

We build our hopes and dreams on an idealized way of life shown us from birth, no one ever tells us about different human natures and tendencies.  But we are all unique and I don’t think there is any one mold that can fit us all.  So, how can we expect our relationships to fit into preset casts?  The truth is a real relationship, romantic or not, is a lot of hard work.  Our lives are a work in progress, and that’s what makes it so exciting.

We should just be careful about whom to bestow our favors on.  With anyone undeserving, we would be wasting our precious time and energy that even romance couldn’t fix in the long run.

What I want to know now is how do we go from being girls fluttering around, being romanced, full of joy and excitement to these sensible, circumspect women that just want to be a party in a healthy partnership?  When does the transformation start from butterfly to queen bee?   I guess that will have to be a topic for another time.

May all our lives be full of the joys of first love or at least the creativity to perceive it as such.