During this season, we are all thinking about and surrounded by the trappings of Valentine’s Day. The cards, flowers, candy, stuffed animals and all those damn love songs on the radio! It struck me as I talked to my daughter about this topic that romance is the easy part of relationships but romantic love on the other hand takes real effort. Some would take issue with that statement because they are dealing with what I think is an immature version of love which is really infatuation with a bit of lust thrown in for good measure. I’ve learned that love is not for whimps! Love is going to challenge and stretch and grow you like nothing else. Our fantasy version of love tells us that love is without conflict, always peacable, everyone is always walking around with a silly grin on their faces and can’t wait to get home to jump in bed and make mad, wild, chandelier-swinging love for hours. I hear all of the 30+ group laughing going “yeah right…hours!” LOL
I’m not a romantic pessimist. I’m more of a realist but am a true-blue romantic at heart. I know that the romantic love that we all dreamed about when we were younger DOES exist but what they don’t tell you in the fairytale is that you have to work at it. You have to be willing to talk and listen, give and take, be right and be wrong, say I’m sorry, forgive and change. None of us like change. Not only is it hard emotionally but there’s biology and brain science working against us. You have to have courage to allow yourself to be vulnerable with someone and trust them. A good friend of mine always says that “love provides a safe space to learn and practice courage.” Love also requires the willingness to look at yourself as reflected back to you by your partner and marvel at the good and not so good things about yourself. The first thing we want to do if we don’t like what we see or what our partner is telling us is to throw away the mirror. But I’ve come to realize that I can’t run away from me. No matter where I go, there I am.
But we continue to pursue romantic love with everything in us. Why? Because we are made for connection. We desire to be loved and accepted by another human being in an intimate way. We want to both “know” and “be known” deeply by someone.
So in honor of Valentine’s Day, I’ve created a brief poll that will only take you a few seconds. How would you rate your romantic relationship?