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Romantic love



   What is romantic love?   What are the symptoms and 
   characteristics of this emotional phenomenon?  Let us look at 
   related words and phrases in Roget's Thesaurus: 

   Being in love; being wild about, mad over, crazy about someone; 
     being in a state of heavenly bless, walking on air, passion, 
     desire, need, want, hot passion, heaven on earth, 
     intoxication, seeing life through rose-colored glasses, 
     fantasy, dreams, imagination; lose one's heart, be enamored, 
     be bewitched, be in high heaven, be under a spell; 
     infatuation, worship of another, be desperately in love, 
     adore, head over heels in love, be swept off one's feet, be 
     under another's power; be sexually "turned on", sexually 
     excited, wanting someone sexually; sexual fantasies; 
     emotional cords strung so tight you can't even talk or 
     function properly. 

   As we see from the above phrases "being in love" is an 
   emotional phenomenon in which one finds himself in a state of 
   heavenly bless, bewitched and under a spell, due to things he 
   feels towards another person of the opposite sex.  It is an 
   emotional high, a lovely, heavenly experience that can hold you 
   under its powerful grasp for weeks, months and longer.  In the 
   western world much is made of "love" and "being in love".  It 
   is often viewed as almost the purpose of life, the reason for 
   existence.  It is popularly thought to be the important 
   prerequisite to a happy marriage.  In fact, marriage is often 
   conceived of as some idyllic state in which two people live out 
   their entire lives in this heavenly state of romantic love.  It 
   is an ideal and belief that is part of our western culture.  

   Let us make some observations about this emotional phenomenon 
   called "being in love": 

     - It is a transitory phenomenon.  It lasts for only a certain 
        length of time, then fades away.  Once two people get 
        married and start living together and facing the practical 
        problems of life together this heavenly state of happiness 
        starts dying.  

     - It may be one-sided.  Just because you are "in love" with 
        someone, totally captivated by them, experiencing all the 
        many heavenly symptoms of love, doesn't mean that the 
        other person has the same feelings for you.  They may have 
        no feelings for you and may, in fact, even dislike you.  

     - Over a lifetime one can experience this phenomenon of 
        "being in love" many times with a number of different 
        people, both before marriage and after (i.e. you can "fall 
        in love" with many different people both before and after 
        marriage). 

     - "Being in love" has no connection with marital 
        compatibility.  You may experience this feeling of love 
        for someone (and they may also feel the same for you) and 
        the two of you may be completely incompatible in regard to 
        living a life together. 

     - "Being in love" is, in a sense, an illusion, a mirage.  It 
        is this because it is deceptive, delusional and 
        transitory.  While under its spell one sees only the good 
        side, only what one wants to see.  Once the spell is 
        broken one sees reality in the clear light of day. 

     - The emotional high of "being in love" is somewhat like the 
        highs produced by drugs and alcohol.  They all produce a 
        sort of euphoria, making things appear better than they 
        are, distorting vision. 

     - While under the powerful grasp of love the mind is 
        impaired.  Judgment is impaired.  Perception of Reality is 
        impaired.  One's view of everything is distorted.  "Love 
        is blind" it is said.  Indeed it is blind to Truth, Fact 
        and Reality. (It would not seem to be the ideal state to 
        be in when making really serious life decisions --- like 
        decisions on who we are going to spend the rest of our 
        lives living with.  On such decisions you would think you 
        would like to make them with a clear mind and cool, 
        balanced judgment.  Yet how many marriages in our culture 
        are consummated under the bewitchments of this abnormal, 
        judgment-distorting state?  Could this be part of the 
        cause of the high divorce rate in our western culture?) 

     - "Love" is usually sparked by physical attraction (by 
        someone seeming attractive or good looking to you) as well 
        as by other things such as a pleasing or charming 
        personality and spiritual attraction (i.e. having a high 
        regard for someone in a moral or spiritual sense). 

     - "Love" is a subtle, complex mixture of elusive ingredients 
        that include  1. spiritual feelings on a high spiritual 
        plane  2. sexual attraction and desire on a lower plane; 
        it being often difficult to tell where one starts and the 
        other ends and which is which.  The imagination is 
        strongly stimulated and plays a large role in the whole 
        thing.  With its help we paint the one we are in love with 
        as we want him to be.  We build in our mind the perfect 
        ideal and convince ourselves that he is that ideal (such a 
        powerful force as "love" is, it tends to cause a great 
        deal of self-deception). 

     - It is a natural, biological phenomenon designed to bring 
        two members of the opposite sex together for the purpose 
        of sexual union and reproduction.  


   It has never been clear to me just what and how much of a role 
   sexual desire plays in the phenomenon of "being in love".  With 
   me, at least, it seems to have always played little or no role.  
   In times past when I have been "in love" the phenomenon has 
   always been on a high spiritual plane.  For example, when I was 
   only seven years old I fell madly in love with a pretty young 
   blonde from our church.  I was smitten hard.  It was a bad 
   case.  When I was around her I was so shy and so "tied up" 
   emotionally that I couldn't even talk to her.  It lasted for a 
   couple of years.  (It was all one-sided, she had no interest in 
   me).  She had me bewitched and under a spell.  I thought she 
   was attractive and am sure that "sexual attraction", whatever 
   the biological mechanism behind that is, played a big role.  
   But I was far too young to have any sexual desires.  It 
   happened long before the onset of puberty at the age of 12, 
   with its sudden awakening of sexual capabilities and desires.  
   In the years that followed, through grade school, high school, 
   college and after college I developed temporary "crushes" on 
   many girls.  They tended to be on a high spiritual plane and 
   were always accompanied by a frustrating phenomenon: extreme 
   shyness around them.  I would never be shy around other girls 
   but would have an extreme case around those I especially liked.  
   I would be so shy I couldn't talk to them; I would be all tied 
   up in knots around them. 


   Sept 1989




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