The Romantic template

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.

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Love & Family

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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 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

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RELATED IDEAS

Our culture is full of skillful depictions of love. But at the same time, many of these stories are very unhelpful. We learn to judge ourselves by the hopes and expectations cultivated by a confusing artistic medium. 

We need to tell ourselves more accurate stories about the progress of relationships, stories that normalise troubles and show us an intelligent, helpful path through them.

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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 with many assumptions about how couples are supposed to get together. It teaches us what to value, how to approach conflicts and what to get excited about.

The right person is expected to be someone who shares our tastes, interests and general attitudes to life. This might be true in the short term. Over an extended period of time, the relevance of this fades dramatically; differences inevitably emerge.

It is the one with a capacity to tolerate difference that is the true marker of the right person. Compatibility is an achievement of love; it shouldn’t be its precondition.

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