Romantic Love — From Passion to Practice

A 1981 a study done by behavioral scientists, Wrightsman and Deaux, observed that researchers have historically “believed that love is too mysterious and too intangible for scientific study”. Roughly during that same period John Lee and other fellow behavioral scientists came up with six styles of love.  Of these the more relevant are: Eros, which is romantic or passionate love, Ludus, which is game playing love, and Storge, which is friendship love.

The studies found that the first feelings of romantic love have specific characteristics which are obsessive thought, mania and idealization. If you have ever experienced love at first sight, then you know what I mean.

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You have seen the images of romantic love all your life. The handsome Fabio sweeping the damsel into his arms on the cover of some dime store paperback. Women sigh and yearn for that type of love. Then when they meet Mr. Romance, they fall helplessly in love…at least for a while.

Romantic Love, as characterized by the studies done above, would be known as Theoretical. Emotional and Practical are two other types of modern day definitions that might better describe some of the feelings, expectations and reasons for failure in relationships, as the progress from one type of love to the other.

Can the Eros or Romantic love phase last forever?

The answer is, well…NO. If a relationship is to last it needs to evolve from “obsessive, manic and idealized” to a more realistic and practical symbiosis. Most relationships start in the Eros phase, that romantic and passionate, “love at first sight” phase. Some couples mistake the “cooling down” to be a waning of their love for each other. The relationship drifts apart as everyday life, and the newness of the relationship wears out. The key here is to understand that those feelings come from specific things our partner is doing. We feel this way or that, because we interpret the things our partner does in a certain way. There are two options:  Identify what those things are and have our partner continue to do them, or change our interpretations.

Both of the above are easier said than done, but they define the success of any long term relationship. As a matter of fact, as we age, our needs change so this process must be learned and applied throughout a long term relationship like marriage.

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What are some ways to keep the feeling of Romantic love alive?

Re-experiencing the feelings of romantic love with certain frequency is a sure way to reinforce the intimate bond that you are building in a relationship. I mentioned the word, but let me emphasize it. Intimacy is the key to the long term success of your relationship. This is a long topic better expanded on elsewhere, but I can mention three simple ways in which you can build this intimacy.

Dream together and make plans for the future-maybe a new house, trip to the tropics, wedding plans or honeymoon, are all good ways to spark the imagination, and keep some mania, obsessive thought and idealization going.

Make an effort to make everything you can a special event, a celebration of being together, of finding each other and growing as a couple.

Definitely keep some separate interests to give you something new to discuss together. This should not be hard to do, the thing is sometimes in possessive relationships one party might interpret this as lack of love, interest, commitment, caring, etc. These issues need to be worked through.

Having a healthy relationship depends wholeheartedly on a strong sense of your identity and the identity of the relationship as two separate things.

The main thing about romantic love is that it doesn’t “just happen” it is built. You can start building it today.