Friday, April 15, 2011

Romantic vs Real Love

As children (and sometimes as adults), women fantasize of a white knight galloping by to rescue her from a life of drudgery, and they ride off into the sunset to live happily ever after. This sounds like shades of "Calgon, take me away ....", and the operative word in the previous sentence is FANTASY! It just doesn't happen that way, and the only person who can truly rescue you is YOU!

Idealized, or romantic, love is just that -- an image of perfection that cannot be attained, or, if attained momentarily, cannot be sustained.

Although romantic love can eventually turn into real love, usually chemistry is found at the foundation of this idealized love. So why do we become infatuated with some people and not with others? Moreover, why is it often the ones that are not right for us, for example, the "bad boy", who garners our rapt attention?

We are all products of our environment. As we grew, familial patterns were ingrained in our consciousness. If you did not have good role models to emulate, some of these patterns may be unhealthy. However, whether healthy or not, they are comfortable to us for we know how to operate within their parameters. Consequently, we radiate out these types of behaviors and subconsciously draw to us a repeat of a familial pattern, which often includes the worst traits of our childhood caregivers. It's a fact of nature that we are drawn to those who resemble our parents in their actions and, thus, we perpetuate the ingrained patterns. Additionally, we may be drawn to people who have negative traits that we possess but may deny in ourselves. Remember, if you spot it, you got it!! 

In truth, we are a pretty self-centered species. So it seems that romantic love, although it certainly feels wonderful for a while, is really about self-love or loving someone who is most like you or who "completes" you by exhibiting traits that you wish you had.

Real love, on the other hand, is selfless. It doesn't happen in an instant (although it can be sparked that way), but instead grows stronger and deeper over time with an ironclad commitment by both partners. It is based on friendship, respect and honor, and both partners are complete individuals on their own. Together their lives are enhanced by one another. 

Here are nine questions you can ask yourself to determine whether you are experiencing romantic love or real love.

1. Can you spend an evening together without engaging in any sexual conduct, including kissing?
If so, it's real.

2. Are you comfortable being alone with your partner and able to sit in silence without feeling awkward?
If so, it's real.

3. Do you objectify your partner by feeling it elevates your status because you have a beautiful/handsome date on your arm?
If so, it's romantic.

4. Are you embarrassed by your partner? Do you want to keep him/her hidden away from your friends because you are afraid they might not like him/her or don't think he/she is a good match for you?
If so, it's romantic.

5. Can you be totally honest with your partner and, if you disagree, not be afraid of losing him/her?
If so, it's real.

6. Is your established pattern with your partner one of constantly fighting and making up? Are you comfortable with this?
If so, it's romantic.

7. Even though you are in a committed relationship, in the back of your mind, are you still looking to see if there is something better around the corner? Is your relationship right or right now?
If so, it's romantic.

8. Is your relationship abusive, but you still profess "love" for your partner and make excuses for him/her?
If so, it's romantic.

9. Is your partner your best friend -- the one person with whom you want to share your triumphs and commiserate with your disasters and know that you will be loved in both instances?
If so, it's real.

Don't get me wrong, romantic relationships can be fun and we all need more romance in our lives. Simply recognize them for what they are ... practice! Your goal is to seek real love and then add romance to it.

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