The Myth of romantic love has been ingrained in us since childhood through cultural conditioning, childhood fairy tales and movies
We have been led to believe that for everyman in the world, there is a woman “Meant for him” and vice versa.
Moreover the myth reinforces that there is only one man meant for a woman and one woman meant for a man and all this is “predetermined” in the stars.
When we come across the person that heaven intended for us, we will find our perfect match and then we will be compatible in every regard, we will understand each other without even uttering a word and we will be able to satisfy all of each other’s needs and live happily ever after in perfect harmony.
Should it happen that we do not understand each other or fail to satisfy all of each other’s needs or fight or fall out of love, then it is clear that we made a dreadful mistake, we did not read the signs right and hookup with our one and only perfect match, what we thought was love was not our real love and nothing can be done about the situation and we are doomed for life.
If you ask people to define love, most of them would use above mentioned descriptors.
However, if you have lived enough life, you would have realized that what we have been culturally conditioned to think about love is actually unhealthy and incorrect.
Before we get down to understanding what love really is, let’s first filter out what love is not.
We have been led to believe that Love is a Feeling.
But that’s not the case about genuine love.
When we meet someone, we may start to feel attraction towards them due to the chemical rush inside our bodies. But this phase of attraction and lust doesn’t last long.
Our feelings can be momentary and fleeting but genuine love implies commitment and exercise of wisdom. It is when we truly love someone, that we make a thoughtful and committed decision to support that person’s wellbeing and growth.
It is when we genuinely love someone that we make an effort to stretch ourselves to act in loving ways towards them even on days when we don’t feel like loving.
Another common myth about love is that “Love is dependency”.
The romantic love ideal of love propagated by Hollywood flicks and fairytales makes some people believe that a part of them is missing until they find their other half. These kinds of people have no sense of identity without a relationship and tolerate loneliness poorly.
It is as if it doesn’t matter who they are in a relationship, as long as they have someone.
Love is not dependency.
“Love is the free exercise of choice. Two people love each other only when they are quite capable of living without each other but choose to live with each other.” – M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth
Genuine Love is built on the foundations of intimacy and interdependence, if this delicate balance is lost, the dreadful psychological condition of codependence sets in.
Love is not at all about hurtfulness or vengeance. These emotions can only come from a place of ego and fear and never from a place of true love.
“If in your relationships you experience both “love” and the opposite of love ― attack, emotional violence, and so on ― then it is likely that you are confusing ego attachment and addictive clinging with love. You cannot love your partner one moment and attack him or her next. True love has no opposite. If your “love” has an opposite, then it is not love but a strong ego-need for a more complete and deeper sense of self, a need that the other person temporarily meets.” – Eckhart Tolle, Power of Now.
We unconsciously attract partners who have characteristics or qualities that we don’t have and we think that having these people in our lives will make us complete and whole.
Or we attract partners to heal our inner wounds whether they stem from childhood or insecurity or any other place.
Till the time we heal our wounds and integrate our shadow side and achieve wholeness on our own, we will keep on attracting partners out of our insecurities and fear and not out of love.
Whatever you need or want from a partner, you should be able to provide to yourself first.
Love is not a substitute for your inner work of healing and integrating your dark and shadow side.
Another misconception about love is that “Love is Self-sacrifice”.
Love is a delicate balance of interdependence. It is about taking responsibility for self-care and then extending yourself to love and support your partner.
You cannot fill from an empty cup.
When some people refer to self-sacrifice or martyrdom as love, they are basically trying to get their own need for masochism met under the garb of love.
They suffer from low self-worth and try to compensate for the lack of self-love by playing the role of a martyr. In this way, they are doing a disservice to both themselves and the person they claim to love.
Another major misconception that stems from romantic love ideal is a feeling of ownership or entitlement regarding our partner.
We think that if we love someone, they are our own property. Not just that, we want to put a label on our relationship as soon as we can, thinking that by putting a stamp of marriage or any legally binding contract, we will be able to keep that person with us forever.
We forget that the other person is not an object and has a separate identity, opinions, likes, and dislikes.
He does not necessarily have to agree on everything that we say nor does have to function according to our whims and fancies or has to stick around with us forever.
If someone outgrows relationship or falls out of love, he is free to move on from a relationship.
Like we discussed, love is not an overwhelming feeling. Instead, it is a thoughtful and committed decision.
“I have defined love as the will to extend oneself for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth. Genuine love is volitional rather than emotional. The person who truly loves does so because of a decision to love. True love is not a feeling by which we are overwhelmed. It is a committed, thoughtful decision.” – M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth
We do not like to hear Love and discipline in the same sentence but discipline is actually required to love in the right ways.
“Love is not simply giving; it is judicious giving and judicious withholding as well. It is judicious praising and judicious criticizing. It is judicious arguing, struggling, confronting, urging, pushing and pulling in addition to comforting. It is leadership. The word “judicious” means requiring judgment, and judgment requires more than instinct; it requires thoughtful and often painful decision making.”
– M. Scott Peck, the Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth
Love is a beautiful companionship between two separate individuals who come together to help each other to reach their highest potential without losing their individuality in the process.
“Let there be spaces in your togetherness, and let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together, yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, and the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.”
― Khalil Gibran, The Prophet
Love is as love does.
When we genuinely love someone, we make every possible effort to act towards them in loving ways even on our most hectic days or days when we don’t feel like loving.
It is how we love their very being, their essence; it is how we love them through thick and thin, through ups and downs, through their flaws and imperfections, day in and day out.
Love is not about insecurity or jealousy or possessive.
Love should be wild and free but relaxed and secure.
“The Buddhists say if you meet somebody and your heart pounds, your hands shake, your knees go weak, that’s not the one. When you meet your ‘soul mate’ you’ll feel calm. No anxiety, no agitation.”
― Monica Drake, Clown Girl