No one should be denied the uplifting, ecstatic experience of romantic love; yet much of it is a delusion. The post, “Romantic Love”, describes some of the science showing how those in the throws of new romance get a rush of chemicals in the brain; it has been compared to a cocaine hit and the euphoric feelings and unrealistic thoughts that follow. It is certainly sad that we cannot have this rush forever, but it is a mistake to indulge in continued yearning for it rather than searching for how to achieve realistic long-term love.
We have to contend with, relentless cultural messages persuading us that we must have happiness-by-romance and that it is immediately available: the “friends” looking so happily romantic; a state-of-the-art car glides lovers into a sunset. Romance is a must-have commodity.
Our ability to forge realistic long-term relationships can be tainted:
- Yearning for the highs of romance, when they appear so accessible through commodities and lifestyle, can prevent full engagement with the nitty-gritty of life in long-term relationship.
- Anger and irritability at the loss of romance appearing as criticism of your partner, who no longer comforts you by recapturing enough of that old romantic rapture.
- Sadness at the loss of romance can undermine your confidence and ability to be intimate in the long-term; particularly when there appears to be so much happiness-by-romance on hand to all around you.
Nasty surprises can erupt when we nurse such buried longings and feelings: a secret affair, substance misuse, surprising fights, withdrawals and mega-sulks, an unforeseen separation.
The fact is that romantic love and long-term love are essentially different. Romance is a delightful-delusional discovery that “You are the same as me! You are perfect – at last, a mate!” Successful long-term love on the other hand, appreciates difference, “Oh, you are different from me, lets enjoy (and manage) our differences together.”
Continual yearning for the early rush of romance makes it hard: to fully commit to accepting your partner’s differences; to explore them properly; to feel respectful, excited and turned on by them. So take the plunge and risk searching together for a new kind of love and a more lasting kind of romance.
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With thanks to:
Mating in Captivity by E Perel
The State of Affairs by E Perel,
The Neuroscience of Human Relationships by L Cozolino,
How do we define love? On this.deakin.edu.auby S Pinto,
TED Talk “Why we love and why we cheat” by H Fisher,
Imago and “Getting the Love You Want” by H Hendrix.
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