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A Brief History of Romantic Love and Why It Kind of Sucks

Plato on love

The ancient Greek philosopher Plato argued that the highest form of love was brotherly love or platonic love.

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A Brief History of Romantic Love and Why It Kind of Sucks

A Brief History of Romantic Love and Why It Kind of Sucks

https://markmanson.net/romantic-love

markmanson.net

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Key Ideas

Plato on love

The ancient Greek philosopher Plato argued that the highest form of love was brotherly love or platonic love.

The industrial age changed romance

For most of human history, there was no time for romance. Marriages were arranged by families and were a purely economic arrangement designed to promote the survival and prosperity of both extended families.

It wasn’t until the industrial age that things began to change. They didn't have to rely so heavily on family connections any more. Consequently, the economic and political components of marriage ceased to make sense.

"Happily ever after" ideal

The economic realities of the 19th century mixed with the idea from the Enlightenment about the pursuit of happiness. The result was the Age of Romanticism.

People became economically independent and love (or emotions) became valued in society. These ideals of love have been heavily promoted and marketed during the 20th century.

Love is complicated

People often overestimate love’s ability to overcome whatever issues or problems present in their relationships.

Love can sometimes be unpleasant or painful. It requires self-discipline, understanding and a certain amount of sustained effort over the course of years. It comes with a requirement for personal responsibility.

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Unrealistic expectations

The gap between expectation and reality is the cause for many of life’s disappointments.
We like to create detailed fantasies of how our lives are going to be. But when we expect our reality to match a fantasy but life turns out nothing like it, we feel disappointed.

Asking the right questions

"Are you the right person for me?" is the wrong question to ask, because nothing outside of ourselves can fix us or bring us happiness.
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The ultimate savior

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The danger of escapism

We may help our partner figure out their issues but neglect our own. We find refuge in our partners, and sometimes a refuge where we can escape from ourselves. That is dangerous and unhealthy in the long run.

Real love

If we want to live in a society where we take our emotional health seriously, where self-care, self-awareness, and self-love are valued, we will teach each other more about different perspectives of love.

With real love, we will accept and value ourselves without relying entirely on someone else for validation.

Unresolved conflicts

The idea that couples must communicate and resolve all of their problems is a myth. The truth is, trying to resolve a conflict can sometimes create more problems than it fixes.

Being honest

The last person you should ever have to censor yourself with is the person you love.

It’s important to make something more important in your relationship than merely making each other feel good all of the time. The feel-good stuff happens when you get the other stuff right.

Being willing to end it

Romantic sacrifice is idealized in our culture. 

Sometimes the only thing that can make a relationship successful is ending it at the appropriate time, before it becomes too damaging. And the willingness to do that allows us to establish the necessary boundaries to help ourselves and our partner grow together.

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