1000 petals by axinia

the only truth I know is my own experience

Romantic love vs. True love and why happy marriages are rare in the West February 4, 2010

This post follows Romantic Love: A book EVERY Western man should read  and  quotes Robert A. Johnson’s bestseller “Understanding the Psychology of romantic love”  . I arranged it the way that it gives the essence of author’s investigations on the topic, but please do read the book, it’s so insightful!

Below you will find the brilliant differentiation between the so called romantic love and true love. After reading this post, be prepared for the next in which you will lean about the amazing potential of romantic love.  In the meanwhile, let’s meditate on the truthful lines below.

What is romantic love?

Romantic love is the single greatest energy system in the Western psyche. In our culture it has supplanted religion as the arena in which men and women seek meaning, transcendence, wholeness, and ecstasy…We are so accustomed to living with the beliefs and assumptions of romantic love that we think it is the only form of “love” on which marriage or love relationships can be based. We think it is the only “true love”. But there is much that we can learn from the East about this. In Eastern countries, like those of India and Japan, we find that married couples love each other with great warmth, often with a stability and devotion that puts us to shame. But their love is not “romantic love” as we know it. They don’t impose the same ideals on their relationships, nor do they impose such impossible demands and expectations on each other as we do.

Romantic love has existed throughout history in many cultures. We find it in the literature of ancient Greece, the Roman empire, ancient Persia, and feudal Japan. But our modern Western society is the only culture in history that has experienced romantic love as a mass phenomenon. We are the only society that makes romance the basis of our marriages and love relationships and the cultural ideal of “true love”.

One of the greatest paradoxes in romantic love is that it never produces human relationships as long as it stays romantic. It produces drama, daring adventures, wondrous, intense love scenes, jealousies, and betrayal; but people never seem to settle into relationship with each other as flesh-and-blood human beings until they are out of the romantic love stage, until they love each other instead of “being in love”.

Romance, in its purest form, seeks only one thing – passion. It is willing to sacrifice everything else – every duty, obligation, relationship, or commitment  – in order to have passion.

Difference between romantic love and true love

People become so wearied of the cycles and dead ends of romance that they begin to wonder if there is such a thing as “love”. There is. But sometimes we have to make profound changes of attitude before we can see what love is and make room for love in our lives. Love between human beings is one of the absolute realities of human nature.

Love is the one power that awakens the ego to the existence of something outside itself, outside its plans, outside its empire, outside its security. Thus love by its very nature the exact opposite of egocentricity. Love is utterly distinct from our ego’s desires and power plans. It leads in different direction: toward the goodness, the value, and the needs of the people around us. In its very essence, love is appreciation, a recognition of another’s value: It moves a man to honor a woman rather that use her, to ask himself how he might sere her. And if this woman is relation to him through love, she will take the same attitude toward him.

This is the main distinction between human love and romantic love: Romance must, by its very nature, deteriorate into egotism. For romance is not a love that is directed at another human being; the passion of romance is always directed at our own projections, our own expectation, our own fantasies. In a very real sense  it is a love not of another person, but of oneself.

 Romantic love can only last so long as a couple are “high” on one another, so long as the money lasts and the entertainments are exiting. True love is content to do things that ego is bored with. Love is wiling to work with the other person’s moods and unreasonabilites. Love is willing to fix breakfast and balance the checkbook. Human love sees another person as an individual and makes an individualized relationships to him or her. Romantic love sees the other person only as a role player in the drama.

Human love necessarily includes friendship withing a relationship, between husband and wife. In romantic love there is no friendship. Romance and friendship are utterly opposed energies, natural enemies with completely opposing motives. Sometimes people say” I don’t want to be friends with my husband (or wife); it would take all the romance out of our marriage”. In one of the Hindu rites of marriage, the bride and groom make each other a solemn statement: “You will be my best friend.”

What we can discover

We can’t pretend that we have an Eastern psyche rather than a Western psyche. We have to deal with our own Western unconscious and our own Western wounds; we have to find the healing balm within our own Western soul. But we can learn that human relationship is inseparable from friendship and commitment. We can learn that the essence of love is not to use the other to make us happy but to serve and affirm the one we love.

And we can discover, to our surprise, that what we have needed more that anything was not so much to be loved, as to love.


50 Responses to “Romantic love vs. True love and why happy marriages are rare in the West”

  1. pooyan Says:

    The text was thoroughly true, and inspiring. I was waiting for this post as you asked me 😉 , but it was really nice, will follow the subject on your next posts hopefully …

  2. Shailedra Sharma Says:

    Sister, as usual, this is very insightful. Your writings are very mature.

  3. Dmitri Says:

    i can honastly say with a smile that i build a relatinship with my parents and a couple of freinds in the menner that he describes true love BUT i cont say that i feel the emotion in my heart…i also feel the desire to expiriance romantic love and dont reject a little flert when it’s available but i never act on this impulse as to implament it in some way that will satisfy me…..very fast it changes from romance to using another person’ so there i stop and then im distrubed by the thoght that im missing something’ that i dont live fully…. so why if i most live by the rules of true love im atrrected to romantic love and not satsified???????

  4. Dmitri Says:

    i’d love to read the book but i wonder if i can get it…..i’ve tried to order some book on amzaon.com and it saied that there is no destribution to my area!!! i live in israel…tried to order the book of tolstoy about which of posted here and got frustrated

  5. Dmitri Says:

    ok, i’ll try. thenks axinia

  6. mirel Says:

    wow, ganz puenktlich:)))….now with Valentines Day but a matter of a few days away, what a timely topic to rediscover pure love partnership without any superficial commercial expectations…..’romance only for a day vs. appreciation, sharing, ‘being best friends’ for a lifetime’!!!

  7. swaps Says:

    Axinia, when you set out on this series with that extra zeal, I was skeptical. But I am glad I was wrong. Passion is indeed the culprit.
    (But passion is glorified in old Indian literature and architecture too… the picture is not as rosy here, but that is another matter).

    Now looking fwd to your next post (slated for next weekend??)

    • sakhi Says:

      Passion is put there in by the nature for the procreation and when we talk about a love between a man and a woman in procreative way, passion indeed is needed. With sisterly (brotherly) love, peace can prevail but not the progeny (which is nature’s law)!!

      • swaps Says:

        You are right. We are looking for love and peace. Try to go beyond adolescent passion.

      • axinia Says:

        sakhi, no one is speaking here of sisterly/brotherly love! It is clear that the relationships between husband and wife cannot be of such kind 🙂
        The true love is not passion, it is something much more…deeper, wider, 1000 times more beautiful and great!
        “Falling in love” is not the same. May be you do not mean the same thing as it is meant here? I mean, in Indian culture thse thing seem to be really very different.

  8. Atlantic Says:

    I always love to see you post on this topic. This would, no doubt, be an easy book to read Axina! Hope that I too get to read your next post. Even if I don’t ever comment anymore. LOL But when you share your inspiration on relationships it’s truly heart warming!

    • axinia Says:

      thanks, dear 🙂 The topic is dear to alsmost everyone, I have discoverd that even talking to some hard working businessmen, at the end of the conversation one comes to…relationships!

  9. In Eastern countries, like those of India and Japan, we find that married couples love each other with great warmth, often with a stability and devotion that puts us to shame.

    Oh, my “GOD”! 😯 😯 😯

    I’ll leave alone marriages in Japan as 1) I don’t know how they work, and 2) though both India and Japan are geographically a part of the “East”, the “cultures” and almost everything else about the two are as different as the atmospheres on Mercury and Neptune.

    Married couples “loving” each other with GREAT WARMTH in India… indeed!


    Perhaps that explains why young (newly married) women in the evil, barbaric, despicable, uncouth empire with a filthy “culture” that Mr. Johnson is so fond of, are several times more likely to die in a (very warm) fire! Melted by “the great warmth of the love” of their husbands! 😀
    Young women in India are three times as likely to suffer a fire-related death as young men, according to a new study.

    The study, published in the Lancet medical journal, looked at death statistics in India for the year 2001.

    Of an estimated 163,000 fire-related deaths, two-thirds of the victims were females, mostly aged between 15 and 34.

    These deaths are attributed to kitchen accidents, self-immolation and different forms of domestic violence, such as dowry disputes.

    By combining several health data sets, the authors found that in 2001 there were 106,000 fire-related deaths among Indian women, mostly between 15 and 34 years of age – a number six times higher than the police recorded.

    In all their research, there were “alarming” spikes in deaths by fire in the 15 to 34 age group of females in India, the authors said.

    This could be attributed in part to “sudden exposure to the cooking environment”, though some believe that many homicides are covered up as accidents and are considered a cultural norm, so the police do little to investigate or intervene.

    “Dowry deaths”, in which a woman is doused with kerosene and then set on fire 😡 , are sometimes perpetrated by the family of the husband 👿 if the bride’s dowry does not meet expectations.

    The Hindu practice of sati 😡 , the act of a widow’s “suicide” by jumping on to her husband’s funeral pyre, is illegal in India.

    Hehehe… I never knew Mr. Johnson means what he says, in a very different way though! 😆

    Every HOUR, 12 (TWELVE) Indian women are BURNT TO DEATH, presumably by the “great warmth of the love of their husbands” (according to Mr. Johnson):

    But their love is not “romantic love” as we know it.

    That’s because their “love” is (very often) not love at all! It’s a mere “breeding contract”, one in which two individuals have been sanctioned by their families/society to enter into. In the absence of any kind of “love”, the “breeding contract” is very similar to the one that wild animals enter into during their mating seasons, for the sole purpose of breeding offspring and multiplying the horde.

    The hordes belonging to uncouth “cultures” that aren’t civilised enough to have the concept of romantic love in them and the herds of wild animals differ in their breeding contracts in only one way. While the wild herds have a temporary breeding contract that lasts for one mating season, the uncouth hordes have a permanent breeding contract that is supposed to last for the rest of their lives.


    In one of the Hindu rites of marriage, the bride and groom make each other a solemn statement: “You will be my best friend.”

    Poor Mr. Johnson! 😦 In his eagerness to demonise marriages in the civilised societies and promote those in the uncouth ones, he has forgotten a crucial fact: the groom in the “culture” he mentions performs supposedly the most important marriage rite i.e. tying a chain (may take different forms) around the neck of the bride. It is meant to convey that, by chaining his bride, the groom makes it clear to everyone that the woman is meant to be his “slave” for the rest of their married life. By tying that chain, he is trying to confirm the fact that he has become the rightful “owner” of the woman, having taken “ownership” of her from the guardian’s role played by her father till then. The knots convey that the “breeding contract” has been sealed and publicly accepted and acknowledged by everyone.

    They don’t impose the same ideals on their relationships, nor do they impose such impossible demands and expectations on each other as we do.

    They sure don’t! That’s because their “relationships”, being (almost) completely devoid of love, are merely breeding contracts. As we all know, a loving relationship and a breeding contract certainly have different, very different, demands and expectations 🙄

    • Atlantic Says:

      “A loving relationship and a breeding contract certainly have different, very different, demands and expectations.” Love sets no demands or expectations from either side only gives freely or else it would not be love. However, I guess it would be true to say that there is noticeable evidence and or tokens of ones affection that can be clearly seen. The things that we do for each other because of feeling we have to do them does not prove love only the things we do because we want to. These things show our true feelings and they are not the impossible!

    • EJ Says:

      Wow… I can’t even begin to describe the stupidity of your rant. The only “filthy” thing I see here is you. Go do the favor and shut up. I hope you’re forced into one of these “savage” marriages and that you won’t be able to get out of it ever.

  10. Atlantic Says:

    Dear Raj, I totally get what your saying. Unfortunately these are common and wide spread problems that you speak of. However, as you know they do not speak for all. Every country and every culture has it’s own share of problems because human nature is pron to corrupt. Every system designed with good intentions is taken advantage of. While the evil you speak of is easily seen there are also blessings hidden beneath that teach an important lesson. Especially for the west, where choosing ones wife or husband is the cultural norm. It is commonly believed that the choosing the right marriage partner is what brings love and happiness. But when love cannot be found and the early romance ends, as it usually does, then couples separate and begin to seek love in someone else. And so begins an endless cycle. What should have been a blessing in the west then becomes a curse, just as being given the choices you want spoils and leads to selfishness and feelings of being unsatisfied. However our love is not found within another but within one self. And this fact is clearly demonstrated best by those who find love in spite of how the circumstances may appear. Yes, in India maybe most marriages are loveless at first but in “some” they learn to love and more importantly they choose to love.


    • Dear Atlantic,

      While a few small problems may be widespread and common among many “cultures”, I bet a term like “dowry death” is something that can only be a contribution of the most despicable, filthy and uncouth “culture” in the world (and the equally filthy “cultures” that surround it).

      “Dowry death” is actually a very mild euphemism for the actual practice. What should be correctly described as a savage, third-degree pre-meditated murder, after torture, for the purpose of acquiring a hefty ransom gets passed off as a “cultural practice” called “dowry death” in the world’s most uncouth, barbaric, evil empire that has many more “cultural practices” that are simply too disgusting and repulsive to even mention here. I bet even the beastly hominoid Neanderthal cavemen did not have as despicable a “cultural practice”. Such is the sheer uncouthness and filthiness of the world’s most nauseating “culture”.

      Coming back to romantic love, I don’t mean to say that all “arranged marriages” are loveless or remain loveless. Sure, there may be a fraction of those where they learn to love, if the chemistry between the two is right. But a large majority of the so-called “arranged marriages” and all “forced marriages” remain almost loveless, largely drudging, breeding contracts. (There is a rather thin dividing line between the archaic “arranged” marriages and filthy “forced” marriages.)

      The main purpose behind such marriages (apart from things like ransom payment) is NOT a union of loving souls, but rather, a need to breed (preferably male) offspring, in order to continue the “family line” of the horde, not very different from the aims of “mating and breeding” practised by wild animals. Most animals, as far as I know, are incapable of experiencing the very human feeling of romantic love.

      I don’t quite understand why the Western cultural norm of choosing one’s wife or husband should interfere with the longevity of the relationship in any way. After all, that’s what marriage is supposed to be, a loving union of souls that find each other, correct? Besides, if what I know is correct, most marriages in the civilised societies in the last century or two were all done in the same manner, weren’t they?

      Why, the concept of romantic love resulting in a lasting, happy marriage dates back to millenia. Correct me if I’m wrong, but as far as I know, even Jesus Christ’s parents, Mary and Joseph, fell in love when they first met, and after a brief courtship, married each other, didn’t they? So romantic love has resulted in stable, loving, lasting marriages even two millenia before, just as they did in many civilised societies since two centuries ago.

      Then why all this fuss about romantic love being a “problem”, when it’s a historical fact that it was romantic love that led to the most stable, loving marriages in ancient as well as recent history, as they indeed should be?

  11. Atlantic Says:

    Raj, clearly the topic of which you speak is very upsetting to you. As it should be! And I’m sure it is to all of us here as well. No doubt there are places with a very unfair share of the worlds problems. The cultural practices you describe have nothing what so ever to do with love. Therefore I do see why it bothers you that we should look to such places to find examples of true love. At first glance it must seem strange indeed!

    I don’t think anyone is saying romance is a bad thing. It is what its. The point is just that it does not last for ever where as true love does not have to end. But the problem I see is that we are at odds as to what love is. You are suggesting that romance and love are the same thing.

    Truly being able to choose ones life partner is a blessing. I am merely pointing out that while it may lead to romance, it does not always lead to a real lasting love.


    • axinia Says:

      Atlantic, the next post on love is actually about the tremendous power of Romanic love and how can we handle it in order that every person and the whole society can benefit from it!

    • Atlantic,

      Therefore I do see why it bothers you that we should look to such places to find examples of true love

      Yes, it definitely does! 🙂 How can one make an example of places that simply don’t have even traces of what one is looking for 😕 It’s like wearing a thick fur coat over several layers of warm clothing and roaming in the middle of the Sahara desert, expecting to be surrounded by dunes of ice and snow 😀

      The point is just that it (romance) does not last for ever where as true love does not have to end. But the problem I see is that we are at odds as to what love is

      We sure are at odds here 😦 I get the feeling that Axinia, you and I all have different things in mind here 😐

      Truly being able to choose ones life partner is a blessing. I am merely pointing out that while it may lead to romance, it does not always lead to a real lasting love

      Why not? That was how it was in the West even until the seventies/eighties, wasn’t it 😕

      Just because divorces and broken families have become very common in the last two decades or so, it doesn’t mean that the Western cultural norm of being able to choose one’s life partner becomes responsible for the high divorce rate, does it 😕

      I’m very relieved that you agree with me that being able to choose one’s life partner by oneself is a blessing. Phew! I just hope high divorce rates in the West don’t lead to mediaeval forces dragging the civilised societies of the West back into the Stone Age, like these two shameless, barbaric, primitive, uncouth societies mentioned below:



  12. […] book of Robert A. Johnson “Understanding the psychology of Romantic Love” (here and here), romantic love however attractive and delightful it may occur, brings more destruction than […]

  13. Atlantic Says:

    Axinia, I have not yet read it, (Smile) but I am very interested in finding out just how this is possible. And… I am sure that I believe you!

  14. Föhre Says:

    I think that “true love” is romantic too, i personally find it very romantic to know, that I have a husband who is my best friend and enjoys solving lives little problems together with me. I don’t think it is romantic to get gold-rings and red roses, I think “true” romance is the one that is experienced by two people who truly love each-other. But of course many people “sold out” to fake romance. Anyway, generally I think, that if two people are right for each-other the “crazy” love from the beginning will slow by slow grow into a more “mature” love, one that is understanding and supportive and full of respect.

    • Spot on! 🙂 True romance and fake “romance” are COMPLETELY DIFFERENT things. Silly things like infatuation and lust (both are forms of fake “romance”) should never imagined to be “romance”!

      The idiots in the media are the ones responsible for making infatuation and lust look like “romance”. Those media scoundrels have to accept a large share of blame for the high divorce rates and broken families in the West.

      • axinia Says:

        hi Raj, just saw an ad for a famous German dating plattform
        ” Love is when it fits” (translation)…
        It seems like people in the West start understanding that the right match first should “fit into” your life, and then the love many come…The more so, i can see a clear trend that modern people are realizing that romantic love is NOT the only base for a stable realtionships, they start looking fro a solider base…
        (in the meanwhile Indians like you want to break out from the arranged marriage trandition and seek the happiness in romatic love marriages…what a funny development)…

        • mirel Says:

          Einstein once said: “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”

        • Föhre Says:

          One question:
          Did you find your husband through arranged marriage?

        • the right match first should “fit into” your life, and then the love many come…

          In that one sentence you have described the main problem with the archaic institution of arranged marriages, Axinia 🙂

          1) In arranged marriages, couples generally tend to treat each other as mere “objects” that should “fit into” their respective lives. I mean, life partners are not things that “fit into” hands or feet like gloves or socks, are they 😕 The outdated institution of arranged marriage actually reduces living, breathing people to mere objects that should “fit into” something/someone else.

          2) In mediaeval, uncouth “cultures”, this kind of “fit” is not restricted to the couples alone. The ones deciding the marriage want the person they are looking for to “fit into” their lives as well. So, it ends up with a girl not only having to “fit into” a boy’s life, but she has to “fit into” his parents (and brothers, sisters, grandparents… uncles, aunts, neighbours, dogs, cats etc.) lives and so on.

          3) Obviously, in the uncouth “cultures”, the partners also have to “fit into” each other’s (or be of the same) caste, religion, social and economic status, even diet(!) (don’t laugh, it’s not a joke) etc. etc.

          4) Did I forget to mention the ransom payment (a.k.a. “dowry”) that has to be made to ensure the physical and mental well-being of the bride in the filthy, uncouth “cultures”?

          5) As if this wasn’t enough, the couple has to “fit into” each other’s horoscopes… numerological and palm readings etc. etc.

          6) After all the “fits” have been completed, how can there be anything such as “love” 😕

          7) “Love” is not something that can be generated by these kinds of “fits”, Axinia. It’s not a tap within oneself that one can turn on and off at will. And it certainly CAN NEVER be turned on by third parties!

          So what happens to these kinds of “fits” (a large percentage of them), is that they degenerate quickly into loveless, drudging breeding contracts. Well, the uncouth “cultures” have always wanted it that way and that’s why many marriages in such uncouth “cultures” deserve to be termed as breeding contracts. This is exactly how it was in mediaeval Europe as well.

          On the other hand, if a couple truly love each other romantically (I’m not talking about infatuation/lust here), then everything else will simply fit into place automatically!!! 🙂 Love doesn’t really care about silly, superficial, pathetic things like “fitting into each other” because love basically means a couple is “made for each other”!!!


          I really hope the West (or any other civilised society, for that matter) does not go back into what is a mediaeval practice in their history. I believe they won’t – because progressive societies don’t generally become regressive in a hurry, unless the factors are overwhelming.

          As for the uncouth “cultures”, I won’t put it beyond some of them to regress from arranged marriages to despicable, filthy practices like forced marriages and child marriages. Being ethically and civilisationally challenged, the rapidly overbreeding hordes of some uncouth “cultures” don’t have it in them to either progress on their own, or even copy the progress of civilised societies. That’s the reason why they have plenty of primitive, sub-human and disgusting practices in their filthy “cultures”.

          …meanwhile Indians like you want to break out from…

          Why do you expect me to be a cultural stereotype, Axinia? 😦 😦 Just because I happen to be a citizen of a particular country, do you expect me to follow all its “traditions” (many of which happen to be simply uncouth, primitive and barbaric)? Just because I’m from a certain part of the globe, do you expect me to be an adherent of its shameless, pathetic, worthless, hypocritical “culture” which can be described as mediaeval at best, and sub-human at worst 😕

          It’s like me trying to ask you, “How can a good Soviet raised girl like you even dream of working for an evil capitalist company and that too, in a country with a vile reactionary democratic regime, instead of being a loyal child of the Great Revolutionary Working Class State?”


      • maye Says:

        All true love has romantic love but not all romantic love has true love.

  15. syamukamath Says:

    Wow inspiring. Loved it. But india is also now moving to the same Romance and passion.
    Once a friend of mine , who is a christian , said living with same person is boring and against human nature. Serial monogamy gives happiness.
    I told her , this is why i say you havn’t got christ’s message right. His whole life gives the message that, ” HAPPINESS IS NOT IN BEING SELFISH , BUT IN BEING SELFLESS”.
    Love is nt about passion its about selfless sacrifice. Many people say ” i cannot sacrifice anythng. He/she has to accept me as who i am. ” . No man or women can accept each other totally as who they are. According to hindu , after marriage the two become one, a single human with man and women half.
    Wife and husband must be devotd to each other. Stand with the other in their most toughest and worst times. Understand the other , the problems he/she face and take it as ur problem. Thats where happiness comes.

  16. syamukamath Says:

    Simply racist ,he isnt any raj . He is nt indian. He has got great prejudice against indian.
    Sati, Caste , dowry system etc are nt Prescribd by Vedas or puranas. They evolvd later stages and were made by people who dnt knw hinduism.
    And the knot tied doesnt represent slavery ,. It s most probably gold necklace.
    Sati is almost nil nw, dowry is also decreasing n learnd society and people who knw hinduism doesnt practice it. Infact it was also practisd by christians n india.
    These fake reports are just made by racist and anti indians.
    The kitchen accidents are probably nothng to do with love or marriage its just criminalism. Where govt, system corruptn increases tendency of criminals s also more. Some idiots n far north without knwledge of religion may kill wives if they dnt get dowry etc. Bt everythng cant be blamd on religion or culture.
    It shows the dignity of women in love.

  17. […] This is a good enough reason to re-post my earlier post about Romantic Love. […]

  18. sizik Says:

    everyone dream is to end up in any country that the rightful woman will come from..xxx

  19. sugarbones88 Says:

    This is such a relief to me, to confirm what I already knew to be true. I deeply love my boyfriend of over a year. But I don’t experience the kind of “I can’t breathe, my knees are weak, oh God my emotions are all over the place!!” Kind of love which I have been told my entire life I should feel when I find “the one”. I feel a slow, steady love. A feeling that has developed over time and a rational one at that; I want to be near him. He makes me happy. I was doubting the sincerity of my feelings because I don’t have a frantic, head over heels, dizzied romance. It’s good to know my way of loving is valid and may really endure.

  20. Wow Read The Whole Thing Really Love Is Blind

  21. Suneeth Says:

    What an amazing read. Great poat, thank you

  22. Jay Says:

    Beautifully written, you hit the nail on the head.

    This blog makes some similar points:


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