When it comes to love and romance, you can say I’m bi-polar.
Growing up, I adored fairy-tales with their ‘love at first sight’ encounters and happily-ever-afters. From my pre-teen years till when I was 18 yrs old, virtually any fiction that did not have an element of romance failed to entice me (with the notable exception of The Hobbit and the LOTR trilogy). Romantic moments in novels and films would set my heart a-flutter quite shamelessly. Yep, I’m a girly-girl when it comes to all that.
BUT. At the same time, my notions of love and marriage have always been firmly planted in reality. From as young as I can remember, my mother has always talked to me about the seriousness of relationships and marriage. I kid you not. But what really made me serious in my reflections about love and marriage is from painful personal witness.
Since my teen years, I did not have a rosy picture of love and marriage. In the years since, I haven’t changed my mind. So many young people in relationships are merely using each other emotionally (and maybe sexually) to feed their needs. So many people are clueless about the difference between attraction/infatuation and love. So many people are ill-equipped to understand what they should be looking for in a relationship and a life partner.
I have heard of so many painful stories among friends and friends of friends. Of the girl who was left at the altar by her boyfriend of 9 years after she had endured his neglect. Of the guy who called off his wedding (and then changed his mind) because he had fallen in love with another woman. How about the man who was so in love with the object of his desire that he promised her the world and more if she married him, only to say after more than 30 years of marriage that marrying her was the worst decision he had ever made. Sounds like the movies, except it is real life… and there are real hearts being broken and real lives being changed.
Popular romantic comedies like Sleepless in Seattle and Serendipity annoy me because they present what can at best be deep attraction (whether physical or otherwise) as love. I find the latter film the more ridiculous, as the male protagonist calls off his wedding (on the wedding day) for the sake of a woman he doesn’t even know, but thinks he might be fated to be with. I find that clueless and irresponsible… hardly romantic!
The feeling of romance might be fun, but it only counts for so little. It doesn’t require you to know your partner well, for attraction can be a blind but powerful aphrodisiac. You can feel intense emotion even when there is very little you know about the other person. In fact, infatuation can produce emotions that are so intense that people could kill or commit suicide. (Think Romeo & Juliet) Sadly, too many people mistake such passionate feelings for love, and in so doing, they may never actually learn or experience love.
Romance is not going to see you through the gritty realities of family tensions, financial stresses and personal crises… nappy changing, managing parents and children and working together as a team for life… a team of two that chooses to love each other through sickness and health, good times and bad (especially the bad).
Romantic love is often based on illusion, and survives on the basis that a lot of the undesirable traits of the partner remains unknown. It makes a fool out of people, then leaves broken hearts in its wake.
It should take a lot more than romantic feelings for another to warrant a decision to become a couple, let alone husband and wife. So as much as the heart might dominate in matters of love, we should seriously also use our heads. :)
I never trusted people to make wise decisions when steeped in heady emotion. That is why personally, I have a very low opinion of dating as a way to find a life partner. People in love will usually say anything and do anything to get what they want. When you’re in love, you’re only too willing to focus on how good the other is and turn a blind eye to his or her faults. If that doesn’t spell danger, what does?!
It’s always easier to see it in others than in yourself… so the next time you’re in a relationship and your friends caution you about it, LISTEN. More often than not, they are able to see things that you’re too blinded by infatuation to see. And never decide to marry someone while you’re still in the honeymoon period of a relationship! Wait till you’re sure you’ve gotten a good sense of all the issues you will have to deal with in your relationship before making a choice.
Unlike most movie portrayals, love isn’t a game. (Love Me If You Dare is another film depiction of ‘love’ I detest.) If you treat it as one, be prepared to have your heart broken and to take the responsibility of potentially ruining your own life and that of your partner.