The Romanticising Of Love
I was always a ‘Romantic’
From a very very young age I was taken with the concept of romantic love. Like, really young. First crush at age about 4 and having raised two children and encountered many 4 year olds at this stage I would question just how healthy that is. As a parent, I’ve never known it at such a young age.
I initially blamed this on a heavy diet of Disney films and fairy tales and other peddlers of romance I consumed with relish as a child but I wonder now if it was more to do with my brain *possibly* being wired in such a way that I was biologically more open to the suggestion of it. We’re all programmed differently after all. I have always veered towards the arts (literatrure, theatre, dance, film) and it was primarily the artists who pushed the idea of Romance upon society originally
Or perhaps it was to do with some external psychological influence I was too young to recall. Either way, I figure now that the fairy tales and Disney were simply reinforcers of a message I was more than willing to absorb rather than the root cause
Growing up, I was quietly obsessed with romantic love. Always wondering about it, always longing for it, always trying to figure it out. I was highly suggestible to the idea. My favourite films, tv shows and books usually had strong love interests somewhere. Romanticism moulded my fundamental views on love and relationships and, I now believe, it fucked me up a little bit.
Because whilst I had the frame of mind to realise that love isn’t just rose petals and love hearts,( that wasn’t ever what appealed to me)for most of my life I put a HUGE emphasis on love as a personal value, believing it to be the most important of things above all others. ‘True Love’. More than peace of mind, more than happiness (wasn’t ‘True Love’ all self sacrificial and suffering after all???), more than trust or security, more than mundane external adversities such as, I don’t know, money or distance or similar. More than a great many things. I believed that if you had love, everything else would fall into place
I no longer believe this
Gradually over the years I’ve come to see the value of other things, and they’re far more important than I originally gave them credit for. Like happiness and peace of mind (though happiness is relative and fleeting; we’ll never be entirely content. But you know what I mean) and stability. A few years ago I would have said ‘true love’ surpassed them all. But now…Its not a case of ‘more important’or ‘less important’ but they are most definitely important. A healthy relationship cannot thrive on love and love alone, despite what fairy tales and much of Hollywood would have us believe. Things do not simply fall in place just because you love each other, nice though that idea is
Increasingly, I’ve come to understand that love in order to be healthy should not be painful or damaging. Or terribly stressful. Or filled with drama and heartache. Sure, you can be in love with a person and have that relationship be turmultimous, but regardless to how deep your feelings are should you then pursue that love at all costs? Once upon a time I would have said “Yes”. Now, I wouldn’t reccomend it. Healthy love shouldnt come at the cost of certain things, like your mental health.
There’s no glamour in an unhealthy love
If my children were of an age now where they might require such advice, I’d tell them (based on the stance I currently hold at this point in time) to “Beware the relationship that consists of extremes” . The giddy heights. The obsession. The all consuming burning desire that drives you near crazy. Because mind-blowingly-out-of-this-world-makes-you-legit-believe-in-magic-boarderline-spiritual-experience level of wonderful the highs might be, the lows will be devastating. And there’s nothing to be revered in that
Now my experiences have shaped me into the person I am today and, crippling depression and debilitating self-esteem aside, I’m not sure I’d change that. I’ve learnt much and I’ve grown as a person and continue to do so and there’s much currently in my life that I would not replace. And I did have some utterly magical experiences. I dont regret my choices (except for some of the more awful things I did obviously but this article isn’t about those, in case it needs to be pointed out) but if I were presented with the same situations where I am today as I was ten years ago, I don’t think I’d make the same choices. Because as much as I don’t regret them, I don’t believe they were the wisest.
My views may have changed over the years but at my core I will always be a romantic. And this is fine, there’s nothing really wrong with that as long as you’re wise with it too. After all, romanticism is essentially a type of fantasy and we’re all entitled to those. I’m a romantic, and that’s ok. But I’m a slightly(!) wiser romantic now, less driven purely by the pursuit of love and nothing else. I see the major pitfalls in dismissing all in favour of romantic love. There are Other values of equal importance. Contentment. Security. And a healthy Love encompasses them too
Happy Valentines Day!
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