Romantic Love as a Concept

"We learned about life as children and it is necessary to change the way we intellectually view life in order to stop being the victim of the old tapes. By looking at, becoming conscious of, our attitudes, definitions, and perspectives, we can start discerning what works for us and what does not work. We can then start making choices about whether our intellectual view of life is serving us - or if it is setting us up to be victims because we are expecting life to be something which it is not."

Quote from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

Consciousness raising is a process of enlarging the intellectual paradigm which we base our relationship with life upon. As I have stated previously in this series, our beliefs, attitudes, and definitions determine our expectations and perspectives - which in turn dictate our emotional relationships to everything and everyone in our environment. And when I say everything, I am not just talking about objects. Everything includes ideas, concepts, opinions, etc.

In order to have healthier romantic relationships it is very important to examine our concept of romantic love. If we do not have a healthy concept - realistic definitions and beliefs about - romantic love, then we do not have much chance of having a healthy relationship. If our concept of romance is based on the fairy tales and books, songs and movies, from our childhoods, then we are set up to be disappointed in our romantic relationships.

Read the quotation above and substitute "love" everywhere it says "life" and you might better understand why you have felt like a victim in romantic relationships. We were set up to be victims in romance because we were taught that it is a magical paradise where we will have all of our needs met - and live "Happily ever after". We were taught that getting the romance was the goal and that after that everything was smooth sailing.

Obviously that is not how it works in reality.

It is part of the dysfunctional nature of society that we are set up to believe that love, and life, are something other than what we are led to expect them to be. It is also part of the dysfunctional nature of society - and of civilization as we have inherited it - that we react to not having our expectations met by blaming. We blame the other person, or we blame ourselves. And even underneath the blame we are pointing toward the other person, is the feeling deep inside of us that it is all our fault. That there is something unworthy and unlovable, something defective about who we are at our core. The more loudly and emphatically we blame the other is usually a direct reflection of how much shame we feel about ourselves deep within.

As long as we are blaming we are buying into the belief that we are victims - either of them, or of our self. It is very important to move out of the victim place into a place of empowerment. Empowerment comes from owning our choices. Empowerment is about seeing life as it is and making the best of it - instead of being the victim of life, and other people, not being what we wish they were.

Love as we have been programmed to understand the concept, is one of the great victimizers in our culture - and one of the biggest excuses for unhealthy behavior.

Whenever someone I have been working with answers the question "Why do you stay?" - in a relationship that is abusive or with someone who is unavailable - with the line "because I love him/her," my response is "No, what is the real reason." Because the "love" is never the bottom line. The bottom line is always fear. Fear of being alone, of not being able to support self, of never having another relationship, of getting in a worse relationship, etc.

If we are living life in reaction to fear, we are being victims - and there is no chance of us being healthy in a relationship if we are making our choices in reaction to fear.

That is why it is so important to have a Spiritual Awakening - to raise our consciousness. By being in recovery, on a healing path, we are realigning our intellectual paradigm away from one that is driven by fear to one that is based on Love. In awakening to the possibility that perhaps there is a Higher Power that Loves us, we can start seeing life as a growth process rather than a test we can fail. Then the events and people in our life become opportunities for growth rather than instruments of punishment.

Life then become an adventure. One that can be painful and scary, can feel like a stupid game sometimes, but one that can also be Joyous and wondrous and full of miracles at times.

By changing our concept of romantic love, we can also make it a great adventure to be explored rather than some test we can fail.

Romantic relationships are the greatest arena for Spiritual growth available to us. It is well worth the risk to take a chance on love if we are viewing it as a learning experience rather than the goal in, and of, itself. Romance is part of the journey - not the destination.

There is nothing wrong with wanting the prince or princess to come into our lives. What is important is to know that they will have issues to work through - and they will push the buttons of our issues so that we are forced to face them. Romantic relationships are hard work. It is necessary to keep working on them to give them a chance to be healthy.

Being in Love is a wonderful, magical feeling. It fills us with energy and lightens our spirit so that we feel we are soaring on the wings of Love. It is wonderful to feel that energy. What is dysfunctional is expecting it to last forever. It is important to know that the feeling of being in love is not going to last forever, or be there all of the time. Two people who are working on emotional intimacy - who are communicating and working through issues - can recapture that feeling again and again for years and years, but it is not going to always be the reality of your relationship.

Another way it is important to change our perspective of love is to own that falling in love is a choice. It is not some camouflaged trap in the sidewalk you are the victim of falling into. It is a choice. Get conscious about your choices. It is not smart, or functional, to choose to fall in love with someone who is unavailable.

We are, of course, drawn to certain people. We are drawn to people who feel familiar energetically. They might feel familiar because you have known them in past lives - maybe they are your twin soul or soul mate. That doesn't mean they will not have issues to deal with. In fact, there will probably be more issues because of the Karma involved.

More likely, they feel familiar because they fit your patterns. That is, they are the type of unavailable or abusive or addictive person that you have always been drawn to because of your childhood wounds. I realized at a certain point in my recovery that if someone felt like my soul mate I had better beware.

Sometimes, it is both kinds of familiarity. The point is to pay attention and make a conscious choice. You do not get involved with someone because you are forced to - you choose to get involved.

The more we heal our childhood emotional wounds and change the dysfunctional intellectual programming the clearer we can see reality. The more we learn to have boundaries, to ask for what we need, to be direct and honest in our communication, the healthier we become in our relationships. Healthy enough to get out of them quickly if we see too many warning signs.

Romantic relationships can be a great adventure if our perspective and expectations of them are realistic and healthy.