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The Myth of Romantic Love.

Relationship Difficulties — admin @ 12:13 am

Here at Counselling Connections we have been considering the problems couples and individuals face in their relationships.  Amidst other issues one’s perception of love seems to play a big part in relationship difficulties. We often hear “I just don’t seem to love him anymore” or “he doesn’t love me the way he used to”. Through exploration of comments like these we arrive at an individual’s perception of love. So….what is love and what does it mean to truly love someone? To understand this, we must differentiate between ‘Falling in Love’ and ‘Real Love’.

Most of us will recognise the ‘Falling in Love’ phase of a relationship where the other is ‘everything’ to us. We feel like we have surely met ‘the one’ and that life will be wonderful as long as we have that other person in our lives. The concept of two becoming one seems very attractive and we will never have to face being alone again. The problem with this phase is that it is temporary and so, will always come to an end. It is inevitably linked to sexual attraction, whether conscious or unconscious, which is why many psychologists have described it as nature’s way of continuation of the species. We don’t seem to have control over who we fall in love with or when. It often happens when we least expect it, something that seems to happen to us, rather than requiring real effort. Romantic love is everywhere…. It begins in the childhood fairy tales we once read (and continue to pass on to our children), where the Prince and Princess live happily ever after (overcoming all the odds). Throughout our lives there is a continuation of the myth of romantic love seen in the movies, in the theatre, in music and poetry. Subtly, it is set out as something to aspire to, a measure for how our real relationships ‘should’ be…..So deeply is it set in our unconscious, that we forget to remind ourselves that it is fantasy.

However, just as we fall in love, so too will we eventually fall out of love. It is at this point the opportunity for real love presents itself. One of the differences with real love is that it is conscious and requires effort. Real love requires us to act in loving ways even when we don’t feel like it, to listen to the other even when we are tired. It requests that we appreciate the other and ourselves as individuals and looks to nurture the growth and separateness of the other. This is the basis of true love. In true love there is freedom and choice and we make a decision to love. It is not a feeling but rather that this person is important to us and so we choose to love them. The cornerstone of real love has to be commitment. Without commitment the normal issues that present in every relationship cannot be worked through, for fear the relationship would not survive it. Genuine love requires hard work and attention but the benefits in terms of personal and spiritual growth make it lasting and worthwhile.

It may interest you to take note the next time you watch a romantic movie at the cinema. Note how caught up in it you get and how good it makes you feel. Contrast that feeling to when the music ends and the movie’s over and the lights go on. Romance quickly dies away when reality encroaches. In contrast real love begins when the lights go on.

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