Thursday 7 February 2008

Romantic Love- An Ideal We Need To Escape From

I suppose this post links partly to the previous one, but also to my series on human systems.
It concerns an ideal, a vision, that so many cling onto as being one of more positive traits.
The ideal of Romantic Love.
Now, I'll admit I'm no better than the rest of you. In my head I know damn well, it's a bad concept, it's a false concept, it's an illusory concept, yet so culturally immured are we in the concept that we have become conditioned to believe in it, and even someone who prides themselves on the rejection of all emotion-based thought processes can end up going round thinking that they are in love and it is a beautiful thing.
Of course, it isn't. What it actually is, is a societally created addiction on a huge scale. The dynamics of Romantic Love are BAD.

How did this originate?

Well, it's very simple. It based on a simple truism. The best relationships are where you are both friends and lovers. That should be the clue.
There are just two ingedients. Romantic Love= Strong Friendhip+Sex.

The whole point of Monogamy is that your sex supply is limited to one person. Since most of us enjoy sex, and are kind of addicted to it, the idea is, that you become addicted to a single supplier. Add to this, the friendship bond and all this somehow looks and feels incredibly beautiful.

In fact, all it boils down to is; This is the only person you are having sex with and you are good friends too.

It's not any more amazing than any other form of friendship, it's just one with a lust addiction added, so in some ways, it's far LESS noble, and far LESS worthy than GENUINE, platonic Love.

I guess this is always why I've always had a sneaking contempt for those who put partners before older friendships. To me, they are weak people with no real concept of what's really important in life.

The ancients didn't see Love quite the same way as we do. Aphrodite wasn't the goddess of Love, she was the goddess of sex, pure and simple. Love was reserved for a higher sentiment, a divine sentiment, the way we would use the term, if you remove the Romantic concept.

The ancients didn't see Sex as dirty, but they didn't class Romantic Love as an ideal- it was based on the need to reproduce.
After all, the Norse goddess Freya is hardly a paragon of social responsibility, she sleeps with almost the entire pantheon of Norse gods, mortals, dwarves, she liked sex a lot, did Freya.

Wouldn't that be great- you meet a sex goddess- AND she's loose...

The thing was, Christianity wasn't really up for this glamourisation of Eroticism. The first millenium of Church rule, is a period pretty much devoid of romantic literature. Erotic literature dies with Pagan Rome, and Romance appears in the 12th century.
During those long centuries, sex was pretty much not a topic of conversation.

However, it's a powerful human urge. The invention by poets of the Romantic concept of Love, somehow redeemed it and made it acceptable to talk about. By calling it Love, they equated it to the Love the clergy talked of. They made something the Church regarded as a dirty thing that was regrettably necessary, as being somehow pure.

That's all the concept is. An attempt to allow people to express how excited sex makes them feel, without feeling guilty.

And paradoxically, it served society to promote the concept, because it made monogamy look like an ideal. It sold Monogamy to the populace as being 'pure' and sex outside this ideal as 'impure'.

The church on the other hand, really did not want it's priests getting involved in this. The reasons are obvious.
It's a total waste of a productive life, if you want to get the best of people.

It's an addiction. Those who become addicted this way, will give the best of their energy to this addiction.
The Church has better things to do with that energy.

Thus, the medieval church turned a blind eye to the sexual indiscretions of it's clergy, but it certainly wasn't allowing them to waste time on 'falling in love.'

Standing aside, I can see the dynamics of the situation, and it's not something I believe to be of any benefit to us as a species. I think once we can destroy the Romantic concept of Love and just have a multitude of looser sexual friendships, we will be happier. By breaking the back of Monogamy, which we are already doing, we are breaking the back of Romantic Love, I think. Hopefully, in the future, everyone will see friendship as being the True Love, and people will just have sex with who and when they want.

Problem is of course, we're not quite there yet, and I have to concede that a lot of people still see this as an ideal worth pursuing.

It is cultural conditioning, and I must admit, even I find myself having to fight it sometimes. The best thing to do, is to try and work out what it is you actually feel for someone, is it lust, or friendship?

If it's both, then you need to worry, because whilst we maintain monogamy as an ideal, combining the two is something you really don't want to be doing.

I don't know. I'm not sure this really IS as intellectual a post as it's pretending to be. I think it is correct- but it is possibly more to do with my own subjective view, than anything truly objective.
Many of you probably think that there's nothing wrong with being addicted to a person who is both friend and lover.

Do you know, aside from fear of going bald, it's the biggest fear I have?
But yet I can also see the huge magnetic attraction.

I have female friends. I also make love from time to time. But I try to keep the two separate and avoid sex with people I might develop- or have already developed- too much feelings for.

It all comes down to power.
It means someone having power over you.

It means just orbitting round one person and forgetting all the others, who should matter just as much.

So, is Romantic Love a good ideal, or a bad one? I really don't know.

I suppose it's OK as long as you don't become addicted.
All Love is good, in small doses. It's OK to love someone, just not too much.

If you love, that's fine, if you are IN love, you're addicted.
And of course, when you are, it's too late.

This is what worries me sometimes. These things could creep up unexpected when you aren't paying attention.

I'm sure you can see why I think Romantic Love is a far darker concept than we sometimes acknowledge.

Still, I'm probably getting too old to worry about these sorts of things.

(This post doesn't really seem to have much purpose, I admit. I'm not even sure I have a clue what I'm on about here.)


Anonymous said...

Don't you think that in essence, romantic love is only a means to the spiritual love. Are you saying that if you found a competent partner - in every way that you think she should be competent, that you would even THINK about going to another supplier? Are you also suggesting that humans should be more like the Bonobos who have sex all day with multiple partners?

Not everyone is spiritual, but anyone CAN be romantic - and if that gets them a little closer to their true spirit, I can't see any harm in it.

Have you tried getting a blow up doll? No attachments, commitments, or emotional hang ups. ;D

Anonymous said...

First of all, the first picture (who I suspect is Freya??) reminds me of Shera, Princess of Power.

I'd like to agree with you on this. Esp since I can seem quite cynical about the whole thing. But really (secretly)? I'm a sucker for hearts and flowers.

Anonymous said...

God help us all if you're too old at 30! Romantic love was a concept invented by the troubadours, but there must be something in it, as why else do we all long for it and fight to keep it?

Anonymous said...

Alexys- Your comment reminded me of St Anselm's ontological proof of the existence of God.
With me, the whole point is to keep the functions separate. a friend is excluded as a possible lover, and vice versa.

To allow both functions to merge, is dangerous. Look at it as a version of the theory of separation of powers on a personal level.

The Bonobos, yes that is our trye nature, I believe.

No, never tried a blow up doll. You should see the pub opposite :)

Oestrebunny- It is a good picture isn't it?

Yes, we can all be suckers, me included. But to be honest, there is a part of me that despises myself for it.
Isn't there a twisted element in the idea of WANTING someone to have power over you?

Welshcakes- I guess we do all yearn for it, and i conced I do too, sometimes.
But we all often yearn for things that bad for us and I can't help thinking (logically) this is one of them.

So yes, I yearn for it, but fight AGAINST it.

Anonymous said...

Isn't there a twisted element in the idea of WANTING someone to have power over you?

Maybe, but then that depends on your own motives. If that's what works for some, then why not?

But I don't believe that to be how love is. Loving someone doesn't have to mean you have any power over them. The same goes if they love you. You won't want to lose that love, but both parties are then in the same position. No one has more power over the other. I think that whoever loves you should see you as an equal, not as an inferior. And if that is their attitude towards you then it probably isn't love.

Anonymous said...

Ahah, a chink in the armour! Not quite so sure are you?
Maybe romantic love got its name in the middle ages but I think people have been falling in love forever.
I don't know where you get this idea of the one who loves you having this power over you. It would be true perhaps if you loved someone but she did not love you. But when you love someone you want them to be happy and you give them freedom if that's what they need.
Mind you, I don't think they would be happy to see the one they love sleeping around. That's going too far because it would be very hurtful. That's why very few marriages survive adultery, well if it is discovered.

If your ideas about this were true then there would be many more advocates but there are not. Mostly just commitmentphobes like yourself.

How can you be so committed to your friends but not be willing to make that same committment to someone you fall in love with? Ideally the one you love is your best friend and you have more than one friend, so just add another to the mix.

Anonymous said...

I have almost always agreed with you, no matter how controversy that topic might have be...

but it seems like love is a topic where out outlook differs:

"quand on n'aime pas trop, on n'aime pas assez"

(=When you don't love too much, you don't love enough.)

Even though I myself consider myself being a realistic, ther eis a hopeless romantic in me who still believes in fairytales.

but then again, not all fairytales have a happy ending.

Anonymous said...

an interesting view point -although one that I obviously disagree with.

My blogpower "testimonial" of this site is now up and running

Anonymous said...

I can understand a revulsion to a Hollywood conception of romance, and love. After all, it's the retelling of a myth, one that centers around order and social stability. And perhaps you're right to characterize the intermingling of sex and friendship as dangerous.

Nevertheless, maybe that's how it's supposed to be. Who said love and sex weren't dangerous?

TNT's dangerous too. It can blow you to smitherines. But it can also help you build a tunnel.

Anonymous said...

Oestrebunny- And this is the big question, the one I wrestle with.

Having someone in love with you in a dark and terrible power to have over somebody.

It is a truly terrible power.

Do you know what it means? It means breaking into someone and siezing control of their soul. It's a hypnotic trick.

If you have that power, you'll use it. It is hard not to use power, when you have it. All power is that way.

I've never had that power used over me, not since I was nineteen.
Feeling how I felt then, angry, I got to understand how I felt, and understand the power of love.

It's powerful, I know that.
Because since then, I learnt how to use it, yet be able to escape it's grasp.

How the HELL, do you get out of that cycle?

jmb- No, I'm not. It's just occurred to me that all my mates are actually really happy with their lives, and that's because they're all in love.

But I seem to have dissected it so much I couldn't put it together if I tried.

Point is, I trust my friends. There's a sound reason. They have absolutely no control of my home or career. They have no share in my life plans to that degree. My life and theirs merge when convenient.

By the very logic of that, sleeping partners are invalidated dy definition as possible friends.
It would put them in a position of too much power.

Bottom line, this is basically how I'm used to structuring my life, as a continuous battle to defend barriers.

Crashie- I read a lot of fantasy, so I like to read about sorcerors and stuff

These fairies are never around when you need them, eh?

Baht At- Interesting analysis? Though your point about aborigines was a little off on a tangent.

Efficient as social groups aboriginal Australians might be, there culture failed to acheive the triumph of maximising their environment to improve quality of love- as in wirk to fun ratio ours acheived.

In terms of testable scientific reality, this is undisputable. :)

x-dell- Sex seems to spoil everything, when you're good friends.
It's potentially a good friend lost.

But I see what you mean, it's the prize at stake.

Depends on how much you dare take the gamble.

Anonymous said...

> It means just orbitting round one person and forgetting all the others, who should matter just as much

Ahh yes.. I do occasionally feel the sense of guilt, of treating one person above all the others. And with family time, sometimes that's how it is; you have to choose who you give the little time you have to. Yes, sometimes it's gratitude; give time to those who deserve it... that works... and there's also 'choice'; that's where we ask ourselves, 'is it fair?' (and someone did ask me, pointing out, 'aren't I nicer to you than he?') But that's the way it works. If life were fair, it wouldn't be life, I think.. *although that's cliched* Would be fantasy. :-) But I'm rambling too, I think... ;- )

Anonymous said...

> It means breaking into someone and siezing control of their soul. It's a hypnotic trick.
If you have that power, you'll use it.
I don't need that power over someone I don't care for. Would just break their hearts and have done with it (or, I can't say 'would'; it's already done ;-)). It's not fair to use someone *ahh, 'fair' again. so yes, it's hard to be fair, and free them, instead of keeping them around for your purposes*