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How Romanticism Ruined Love

The cultural backdrop

For most of recorded history, people got married for logical pragmatic sorts of reasons.

Since around 1750, we have been living in an era in the history of love that we can call Romanticism where the marriage of reason was replaced with the marriage of feeling.

Love now unfolds against a cultural backdrop that subtly guides us as to where we should place our emotional emphases, what to value, how to approach conflicts, what to get excited about, when to tolerate, and what we can be legitimately incensed by.

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How Romanticism Ruined Love

How Romanticism Ruined Love

https://www.theschooloflife.com/thebookoflife/how-romanticism-ruined-love/

theschooloflife.com

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Key Ideas

The cultural backdrop

For most of recorded history, people got married for logical pragmatic sorts of reasons.

Since around 1750, we have been living in an era in the history of love that we can call Romanticism where the marriage of reason was replaced with the marriage of feeling.

Love now unfolds against a cultural backdrop that subtly guides us as to where we should place our emotional emphases, what to value, how to approach conflicts, what to get excited about, when to tolerate, and what we can be legitimately incensed by.

The Romantic template

  • Romanticism tells us that a long-term marriage can have all the excitement of a love affair.
  • Romanticism proposed that true love must mean an end to all loneliness.
  • Romanticism believed that choosing a partner should be about letting oneself be guided by feelings, rather than practical considerations.
  • Romanticism believes that true love is synonymous with accepting everything about someone.

The Romantic script is delusional

It's normative points include:

  • we should meet a person of extraordinary inner and outer beauty and immediately feel a special attraction to them, and they to us
  • we should understand one another intuitively
  • we don’t need an education in love
  • we should have no secrets and spend constant time together
  • we should raise a family without any loss of intensity
  • our lover must be our soulmate, best friend, co-parent, co-chauffeur, accountant, household manager and spiritual guide

The post-Romantic attitude

Knowing the history of Romanticism should be consoling because it suggests that the problems we have with relationships don’t stem from our ineptitude, inadequacy or choice of a partner. 

  • It should be normal to discuss money up-front
  • We should realise that we are rather flawed
  • We will never find everything in another person
  • We need to make immense efforts to understand one another
  • Discussing practical concerns is not trivial

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Our ideas of love

The differences in how people have loved throughout history suggest that our style of loving is to a significant extent determined by what the prevailing environment dictates.

It is through ...

What is lacking in art

... are crucial elements of wisdom, realism and maturity. Our love stories excite us to expect things of love that are neither very possible nor very practical.

We learn to judge ourselves by the hopes and expectations fostered by a misleading artistic medium.

How love stories affect us

Emma Bovary in Madame Bovary (1856) spent her childhood immersed in Romantic fiction. As a result, she’s expecting that her husband will be someone who understands her soul perfectly.

When she does get married to the kind, thoughtful but human. But she is quickly bored by the routines of married life. She is convinced that her life has gone profoundly wrong for one central reason: because it’s so different from what the novels she knows told her it would be.

4 more ideas

Romanticism

Romanticism emerged as an ideology in Europe in the mid-18th century in the minds of poets, artists and philosophers, and it has now conquered the world. 

It has permeated our culture wi...

Romanticism is deeply hopeful

It tells us that marriage can have all the excitement of a love affair and the feelings of love should prevail over a life-time. 

Romanticism proposes 

... that true love end loneliness. It promised that the right partner would understand us fully without words.

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Perfection is unrealistic

Whomever we get together with will be radically imperfect in a host of deeply serious ways. We must kill the idea that things would be ideal with any other creature in this galaxy. Ther...

Learn to blame love

When difficulties strike in relationships, we often fall prey to the idea that we are going out with a foolish human. The sadness must be someone’s fault: and we conclude that the blame has to lie with the partner. At an extreme, we exit the relationship far too early. 

We blame our lover in order not to blame love itself, the truer but more elusive target.

Love makes irrational demands

The person we love becomes involved in some of the grandest and most complex matters we ever undertake: we ask them to be our lover, our best friend, our confidant, our nurse, our financial adviser, our social partner, and our sex mate.
The job description is so long and so demanding, that no one in the standard employment market could conceivably deliver perfectly on even a fraction of the demands

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We Don't Understand Ourselves

We don't realize that we are a bundle of contradictions and are trying to look for someone who can understand us, while we haven't been able to understand ourselves yet.

We think we are a gre...

We Don't Understand Others

Like us, other people are stuck in the same low-level self-realization: we try to gauge the other person by their looks or family or social status, which is a futile exercise in most cases.

We Don't Know Happiness

We aren't accustomed to being happy or have a misguided idea of what happiness is.

We find the ones who would be right for us, to be wrong for us, because of our lack of experience in what good is, and the fact that we don't associate love with being happy and fulfilled.

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The forms of love

Love is not just found in romantic love directed at one person.

Love includes the depth of close friendships, the sense of belonging in a community, the intensity of an artistic practice...

It takes a village to feel loved

In history, marriage was a pragmatic institution. A sense of identity was more embedded in community, and not solely in marriage.

The shift to individualism and choice has meant that we feel the need to find our identity in an all-encompassing romantic partnership. We are asking from one person what once an entire village used to provide.

Recognising that one person can't be your everything can help you find a broader definition of love.

The love of friendship

Sharing your experiences with others is an essential ingredient to feeling connected.

This conncection doesn't have to come in the form of a partner or having friends around you all the time. Rather, it is the quality of your close relationships that has an impact on your well being.

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When you're in love

When humans fall in love, their bodies are actively producing feel-good hormones and preventing the release of negative hormones.

When this process suddenly stops, the "w...

Going through a breakup

Heartbreak is a form of grief and loss that can cause serious issues with insomnia, anxiety and depression.

The pain we feel during heartbreak is similar to the physical pain we feel due to a severe burn on a broken arm.

Healing from a breakup

  • Visual reminders are likely to create dopamine surges in your brain that relate to feelings of craving and withdrawal.
  • Replace those surges of dopamine by taking a fitness class. Exercise can also release endorphins that trigger positive feelings.
  • Find a "new normal".
  • Accept the reason for the breakup.

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.

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Falling in love

To us, being loved in a relationship is perhaps the highest ideal. It gives our lives meaning and purpose. Being loved validates our sense of self-esteem and soothes our fears of loneliness.

Whom We Find Attractive

Our self-esteem, mental and emotional health, positive and negative life experiences, and family relations all influence whom we’re attracted to. 

The Ideal Stage of Romance

There is an amount of healthy idealization that helps us fall in love.

However, if we’re depressed or have low self-esteem, we’re more likely to idealize a prospective partner and overlook signs of trouble, such as unreliability or addiction, or accept disrespectful or abusive behavior. A lack of a support system or loneliness might also blind us to potential faults.

It is far better to first deal with these concerns before entering into a relationship.

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Free And Lonely

Most Americans of this generation are now more free than the earlier generations. They are free and spoilt for choice to date, marry, divorce or have casual sexual encounters.

The price of...

Modern Dating Scene

Mark Regnerus provides some insights into the modern dating scene:

  • A casual relationship is now preferred to a committed one.
  • Sex is now a field for marketers to provide products and services.
  • It takes considerably less time, effort and risk for one to get sexual gratification through online dating or porn.
Marriage is now an Option

Youngsters are now wary of a life-long relationship and consider it as an option.

  • One-third of people who are in their twenties may never marry.
  • The increase of freedom to romance has changed the definition of romance.

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The faulty logic

We usually consider moving into marriage in an attempt to preserve and prolong the happy romantic feelings that characterize the early stages of almost all relationships.
But in most cases, ther...

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.
A more constructive question to ask would be "Can I accommodate your imperfections with humor and grace?"