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.