There are two aspects of life that humans routinely romanticize:
- Relationships (personal)
Romance is an essential ingredient of life. Without it, life is colorless and dull. This isn’t an attack on romance. Romanticism has given the world some of the greatest works of art, refining our aesthetic sense. It has also validated human emotion as way to enhance the experience of living.
Cultivating one’s romantic nature is not the same as ‘romanticizing’ something. When we romanticize, we can’t recognize what’s true anymore. Imagination, fantasy, love rituals all have a special place in the living of human life. Yet when we no longer know what’s true, all lines are blurred and we suffer because of the choices we make.
We all want to be loved, this is the natural order of things. Love is the true sustainer of life. We’re biologically programmed to seek, find and connect. When we do, we hope it’s magical and forever. It often isn’t. There are many reasons why. What’s going to be discussed here is how much pressure we put on a partner and vice versa, and the relationship itself to be the answer to everything for which we need an answer.
Relationships are part of being human. We’re gregarious creatures. We’re born out of a relationship and enter one in a family immediately. Relationship is all we know really. The one area that somehow doesn’t enter our life education is the relationship with ourselves.
This relationship is the basis of all others. It has to have certain levels of esteem, worth, acceptance, and love of the ‘self’ variety. These are non-negotiable touchstones. Entering a personal relationship without at least a plateau of inner wholeness is setting that relationship on a rocky foundation.
Only when we are comfortable with who we are can we truly function independently in a healthy way, can we truly function within a relationship.
— Patricia Fry
Sometimes one partner is less at peace with themselves, sometimes both. It’s valid for the relationship to be a place for one partner to lift the other, as long as the other partner takes on responsibility for themselves. If this dynamic reaches a state of diminishing returns, it’s no longer valid, healthy or functional. Often the partner with more peace within will justify and thus romanticize their role in helping their partner grow. If there’s little action from the partner being lifted, this eventually becomes an unsustainable situation and choices have to be made.
If both partners still have a lot of connecting with themselves to do, the relationship can quickly fill with resentments, anger, blame and unhappiness.
John Welwood explains succinctly and well what happens in relationships:
It’s important to recognize that all the emotional and psychological wounding we carry with us from the past is relational in nature: It has to do with not feeling fully loved. And it happened in our earliest relationships—with our caretakers—when our brain and body were totally soft and impressionable. As a result, the ego’s relational patterns have largely developed as protection schemes to insulate us from the vulnerable openness that love entails. In relationship the ego acts as a survival mechanism for getting needs met while fending off the threat of being hurt, manipulated, controlled, rejected, or abandoned in ways we were as a child. This is normal and totally understandable. Yet if it’s the main tenor of a relationship, it keeps us locked into complex strategies of defensiveness and control that undermine the possibility of deeper connection.
These are some of the ways that personal relationships are romanticized:
- That there’s an ideal person for us
- That this person will complete us
- That the high of new love will last
- That we can know a person in a blank amount of time
- That the parts we love of our partner is all there is to him/her
- That all parts of our partner are good
- That sex will always be great
- That we’ll always be close and bonded
- That we’ll never be lonely again
- That the relationship will make all our problems go away
It’s a relationship, not a magical balm. Sure, there are many upsides, as long it’s realized that we’re in a relationship with another human being who’s probably as broken as we are. We’re relational creatures, so it’s easy to have rosy expectations. If we only came into a pairing with awareness! Simple awareness that this person isn’t here to take care of our core contentment, that that’s up to us.
Our partner can add to our happiness, can draw it out when we’re sad, can bring us joy, but it’s a pouring into the fountain of joy that’s already there, not building the fountain for us.
Happiness is your nature. It is not wrong to desire it. What is wrong is seeking it outside when it is inside.
— Ramana Maharshi
This is the mistake we make isn’t it? Seeking outside of us what is inside. We also put happiness into the future. It’s on hold until we reach, have, accomplish this, this and this.
When it comes to love, it’s better to be love and see who and what takes its form in our life. If we grieve lack of love, love can’t enter.
Being love is a quest. It begins with learning to love ourselves without holding back. Depending on our wounds, this can be tricky, but it’s essential. It’s balanced, humble love. Simple self-appreciation and validation. It’s not ‘diva’ love. It’s not to pump up ego. It’s there to help us become whole.
Loving ourselves is all kinds of good. It also eventually leads to empowerment. Living from an empowered place is a correlate of happiness and integrity.
Living with integrity means: Not settling for less than what you know you deserve in your relationships. Asking for what you want and need from others. Speaking your truth, even though it might create conflict or tension. Behaving in ways that are in harmony with your personal values. Making choices based on what you believe, and not what others believe.
— Barbara De Angelis
This post deals with romanticizing spirituality.
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