How Romanticism Ruined Love
It's normative points include:
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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.
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.
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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.
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... 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.
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.
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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...
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.
... that true love end loneliness. It promised that the right partner would understand us fully without words.
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The ancient Greek philosopher Plato argued that the highest form of love was brotherly love or platonic love.
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.
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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