We seem to worship the idea of Romantic Love. I know I did. There was nothing that I wanted more than to find someone to love. It was the ultimate goal of many books and movies, even the ones that were not geared to women. It was Elisabeth Shue in Karate Kid, that became the imprint of beauty and the girl “worthy of love and pursuit”. The fact that I look nothing like her was not lost on me either.
When I was younger, I wanted to find someone, fall in love and get married. That idea superseded everything else, my career, my family, everything else came second. That’s what I wanted and that’s what I went looking for and received.
So many of us think that romantic love is the supreme goal, the pinnacle of life. Someone once told me, “Why should I deny myself the best feeling in the world?” Of course, that person was also defending the idea of leaving his marriage. That person was my ex.
The Dark Side to Romantic Love
The issue was, that romantic love comes at a price. It’s love that is doomed to fade. Researchers confirm it. Yet, in our hearts, we believe that this type of love is essential for a lasting relationship and marriage to be successful. It makes the world look more colourful and feel more delightful. The exhilaration that this type of love brings is powerful. Yet, we must remember that romantic love is driven by hormones and by the euphoria of finding “the one”.
If we’re lucky our marriages and relationships will mellow into Companionate Love. The type of love designed to carry you through thick or thin. According to the triangular theory of love, this style of love is not as exciting or addicting as romantic love. In fact, many of us think that it’s boring. But this should be the style of love should be what we see as ideal. After all, this is the love where your partner brings you soup when you are sick, lets you vent about your awful day at work and cheers you up when you’re down. This is the love that everyone ends up with… if they’re lucky.
Yet, the idea that romantic love lasts with the right person pervades storytelling. It’s fantasy. Not reality. If you believe that romantic love will last forever with your partner, and then it fades, how do you feel? If you believe this theory then you didn’t choose well or something is wrong with your or your partner.
Should I not care About Romantic Love?
If romantic love doesn’t last, we should use our head then and not our heart right? I mean, this is the only way to not get hurt, yes?
Romantic love is there for a reason. How else do we form a strong enough attachment to a lover without it? The issue is that for some reason, we believe that it must last forever, and this is where we run into problems.
I believe that you should be compatible with someone before allowing yourself to fall in love. Make no mistake, we give ourselves permission to fall for someone, we give in to the powerful addiction of romantic love. I believe that it’s possible to try to find someone that you like and admire as a person as well. That way you can feel free to experience romantic love and it’s more likely that companionate love will be there at the end of the addiction.
1. Accept that romantic love will fade and it’s not your fault or your partner’s fault.
2. Make sure that you choose someone you like and respect as your romantic partner.
Madey, S. F., & Rodgers, L. (2009). The effect of attachment and Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love on relationship satisfaction. Individual Differences Research, 7(2), 76-84.
First published on Feb 26, 2017