True love cannot be confused with anything. It appears at first sight and lasts a lifetime. And the main goal of every person is to find their soul mate. After all, this is true happiness. All of these statements are part of the myth of romantic love. We understand where it came from and how it can harm.
Where did the idea of romantic love come from?
The ancient Greeks believed that love is divided into several types. One of them is Eros, or sensual passion. This is a strong, uncontrollable feeling that falls on a person like an avalanche. He was represented as a playful boy with a bow, from which no one can hide.
In the same period, a myth appeared that lovers are two separated halves. Plato in the dialogue “Feast” wrote about androgynes – bisexual creatures who, with their strength and perfection, encroached on the power of the gods. As punishment, the gods cut them into two parts and scattered them around the world. And now people are looking for their halves in order to become whole again and find happiness.
In the same work, Plato described ideal, purely spiritual love as a desire for higher beauty. In the 11th century, the courtly love of knights for their ladies grew out of the idea of so-called platonic love. Gradually, a set of rules arose that the knights had to follow. The medieval author Andrei Chaplain wrote in his treatise “On Love” that true love is often forbidden, because the lady of the heart is higher in status and usually married. The beloved of a knight embodies the ideal of femininity, she is beautiful in body and soul and always beautifully dressed. The knight is allowed to valiantly serve his lady and dedicate songs and deeds to her.
The myth of romantic love was finally formed in the era of romanticism, at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries. According to him, true love can overcome any obstacles. She is the meaning of life. Moreover, without love, happiness is impossible. And love is impossible without suffering, through which a person is purified and reveals all the best qualities in himself.
Romantic love was sung by poets and writers – Byron, Shelley, Zhukovsky and others. The idea was entrenched in the literature and formed the basis of cultural attitudes that are still in effect.
Why the idea of romantic love is not losing popularity
Gender socialization is the process by which children learn the norms of behavior associated with their gender. By the age of three, the child understands who he is – a girl or a boy. And he tries to be like people of his gender and meet the expectations of society.
Female gender socialization in particular reinforces the myth of romantic love. Girls are taught that they should be beautiful and feminine – remember the knightly “ladies of the heart.” A girl should always be clean and tidy. She cannot show anger and be too proactive – this does not fit into the image of an “unearthly creature.”
When a girl is taught to cook or clean floors, it is often said that without these skills she will not be “married”. This emphasizes that marriage and love are the main goals of life. Without a relationship, a woman allegedly cannot take place. Gradually, this thought is fixed in the mind. According to a 2021 VTsIOM survey, 71% of respondents believe that a person needs to get married and live in a family. Moreover, this figure does not change much over the years. Family life is considered mandatory by 60% of respondents aged 18 to 24 and 79% of those over 60.
Stereotypes of popular culture
The myth of romantic love is at the heart of many fairy tales and cartoons. Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty are passively waiting for a prince to take them by the hand and lead them to a prosperous life. The fairy tale ends with a wedding, and this, of course, is a happy ending.
Love lines in movies often follow the plot of the myth of romantic love. Pretty Woman characters fall in love at first sight. And even differences in social status cannot prevent them from being together. Couples are born in heaven. And if you are really two halves of a single whole, then you will definitely meet. Albeit in the most incredible circumstances, like sleepless people in Seattle. True love is impossible without suffering. Therefore, Bridget Jones and Mark Darcy have to go through a lot to finally find happiness.
The myth of romantic love has even leaked into advertising. A woman is such an unearthly creature that with unshaven legs she cannot even dine in a cafe, Gillette teaches the viewer. To show love, you need to make expensive romantic gifts, says the Pandora video. True love is sure to last a lifetime, says Raffaello advertising.
Commercial business interests
Romantic love is an effective sales engine. Courtship, or the so-called candy-bouquet period, requires investment. According to a 2019 VTsIOM survey, 22% of men believe that the best way to express love is to buy flowers. Another 18% show feelings by giving gifts.
In 2022, Americans spent nearly $24 billion to celebrate the most romantic day of the year, February 14th.
Another beneficiary of the romantic love myth is the beauty industry. According to a 2021 survey, almost a third of men value the most in women external beauty and attractiveness. And women are willing to spend money on it. Coloring eyebrows, eyelash extensions, doing painful hair removal and tattooing, spending hours at the hairdresser or manicurist.
What is the harm of the myth of romantic love
Denying that other areas of life are important too
The myth of romantic love suggests that the purpose of a woman’s life is a relationship. A woman took place only if she is married. Otherwise, she allegedly cannot achieve happiness. Career success, exciting hobbies and relationships with friends cannot replace the so-called female happiness.
Interestingly, there is no special “male happiness”. For men, romance is just one area of life, not necessarily the most important.
What is really
Until the beginning of the 20th century, women were not able to work and provide for themselves. Therefore, marriage was sometimes the only ticket to a more or less prosperous life. Today the situation is different. There was even the term self-partnership, or relationship with oneself. It means that any person is a full-fledged independent person. He does not have to look for a partner in order to find integrity. And satisfaction and happiness can be brought not only by romantic relationships, but also by career, friendship, hobbies.
The passive role of a woman
A woman cannot be the initiator of a relationship. It looks intrusive, and a male knight may lose interest in such an affordable “booty”. As a result of this myth, the woman is trapped. On the one hand, the idea of romantic love imposes on her the idea that she cannot be happy outside of a relationship. But, on the other hand, the girl also cannot take the initiative and actively build her personal life. She can only sit and wait for the prince to appear on a white horse and offer her a hand and a heart.
As a result, instead of honestly showing interest in each other, a man and a woman are forced to play a game. A woman can show her sympathy only with subtle hints. And the man is forced to solve these puzzles. For example, another refusal of a lady is coquetry and a desire not to seem too accessible? Does she not call because she does not want to continue the relationship or because she is waiting for him to make the first move? So both men and women think they are from different planets. And it’s not worth trying to understand each other.
What is really
The initiator of the relationship can be one of the partners who has a more decisive and daring character. And to move to a new level, the most effective thing is to honestly talk about it with your loved one.
Excuses for abuse
Stormy courtship can look ambiguous. If a person breaks into your house without an invitation with a bouquet of flowers, this is not romance, but a violation of boundaries.
Love is often a front for a controlling relationship. For example, when a partner forbids leaving the house alone, asks to dress “more modestly” and does not approve of communication with friends and family.
Excessive jealousy also usually does not indicate strong love, but an anxious type of attachment. Such people are not confident in themselves and do not trust their partner, which is expressed in unreasonable episodes of jealousy.
What is really
According to psychologist Marina Travkova, “patterns of romantic love make it difficult to recognize where the story is really about love, and where it’s about stalking, breaking boundaries and violence.” If you romanticize the unpleasant behavior of a partner, then you can not outline personal boundaries in time and miss the signs of abuse.
Faith in love sent down from above
Lovers are two halves of a single whole, and marriages are made in heaven. It follows from this that it is pointless to work on yourself and on relationships. Because somewhere there is that one person with whom we fit together like two puzzle pieces. And you just have to wait.
At the same time, according to information for 2020, 73% of marriages break up. About 40% of divorced people say that they rushed to choose a partner. That is, they do not think that relations could be somehow improved, but they believe that the wrong person was caught.
What is really
Sooner or later, the period of the first bright falling in love ends, and people begin to see each other’s shortcomings. That’s okay, because building relationships is work. If you abandon the myth of the perfect soulmate and try to act like a good partner, the chances of loving each other increase for years.
Stereotypical perception of men and women
In the concept of romantic love, the roles of men and women are clearly defined. She should be beautiful, gentle, flirtatious. He is courageous, determined and romantic.
As a result, the myth of romantic love causes men and women to be divided into two groups. Communicate from the position of roles and not see a person behind them. A man is a hunter, and a woman is a reward, a prey to be obtained. And prey is not a person. And interest in it disappears when the goal is achieved.
What is really
People have many more qualities than “femininity” and “masculinity”. If you stop playing imposed roles, and become yourself, this will make the relationship more honest. Firstly, it will allow you to express yourself without looking back at the stereotypical gender image. And secondly, it will help to perceive a partner as a living person. To see in him his true qualities, and not the mythological “masculinity”. As a result, relationships will become more sincere, strong and healthy.
Cover : Anastasiconostas / Burning hut