Romance as defined by culture
What does our culture tell us about romance?
It’s all sparks and fire from beginning to end. We fall into hot, passionate love. Then we fight over petty misunderstandings. Then we make up even more passionately than when we first fell in love. Then we get married. Then we have a baby.
Raising kids is hard but at the end of the day we collapse on the couch together and fall asleep in each other’s arms. We fight sometimes, but we always make up. Passionately.
The pressure for passion is constant. Our culture is screaming, “We need more passion, people! More sparks! More steamy shower scenes! More cowbell!…”
And then we grow old together on a porch watching the sunset while our grandchildren play in our large, perfectly manicured yard.
At Valentine’s Day and Christmas, men always give women jewelry and perfume. No exceptions. Unless, of course, the guy buys her a car.
And finally, the most fervent message we receive about romance from culture is that we are nothing unless we are in hot, passionate love with someone else.
Love and passion are not the same thing
Well, I hate to be a killjoy, but redefining love isn’t really about passion. Passion is fleeting. Passion can feel really good, but it can also be very destructive. It’s quite possible to feel passion while redefining love (in fact I hope you do!). But recognize that they are two entirely separate things.
One of the biggest lies culture tells us is that love and passion are the same thing. They are not. Not even close.
Passion is spontaneous, raw emotion. Redefined love requires mindful awareness of how you’re feeling, where you end and the other person begins. Redefined love is about recognizing where other people are at on their own personal journey.
When we are falling in romantic love, the other person consumes our every thought. When we are apart we can’t wait until the next time we can be together. When we are together we can’t be close enough. We want to be constantly touching and connecting with smiles and gestures and playful banter. Falling in love is fun!
Redefining love doesn’t require any real change to the process of falling in love. It just asks that you do so mindfully. Never forget your boundaries. Falling in love is no excuse to allow someone to violate your sense of self.
In an ideal world, everyone would redefine love prior to falling into romantic love. Since that isn’t realistic, be aware that it is entirely possible to redefine love in the midst of a love affair. I am living proof that if you are with a partner who respects you, redefining love will only strengthen your relationship.
But be forewarned… If you are in a relationship with a person who does not appreciate you, who does not see you as a whole individual entirely separate from themselves, with your own thoughts and feelings, your relationship may not survive unless they, too, choose to redefine love.
This makes it scary, because we fear being alone. But you can take heart in the knowledge that once you have redefined love, healthy people will be attracted to you like a magnet. It may take some time. And by time, I don’t mean a few weeks. Redefining love isn’t a magic fix for all your problems. It may take years of hard work.
But eventually, if you are willing to put forth the effort, when the time is right and you are ready there will be romance in your life again.
In the meantime, don’t be afraid of being alone. Focus your energy on getting healthy, on building a community of like-minded friends and supporters. Focus on making your own happy family and building a life. Be your own best friend. Don’t buy into the cultural message that you absolutely must have a life partner to be happy. That is a lie.
Be patient. Be kind to yourself and others. Be accountable. Set boundaries. You’re just fine on your own.
There is nothing loving about physical or sexual violence. In fact, it has nothing to do with a desire for relationship, and everything to do with the abuser’s need for power and control. Physical or sexual abuse is not because you haven’t set clear boundaries, and no amount of boundary setting is going to end it. If you and/or your children are in danger, seek help! Speak out to someone you trust, and keep speaking out until you are heard and you are SAFE.
Copyright © Redefining Love 2018
The author of Redefining Love is not a licensed mental healthcare professional. The information included on this site is for general informational purposes only. For mental health questions or concerns, please reach out to a licensed mental healthcare professional.