Manipulating Romantic Love
The Bachelor does a wonderful job of creating an environment that manufactures feelings of romantic love. There is competition; the unmasking of insecurities which leads to vulnerability which leads to intimacy which feels like love. And to be chosen; it feels wonderful; to be chosen when you feel exposed is even better. And the chooser (The Bachelor) is the one responsible for these wonderful emotional gifts; to be validated; to transition from vulnerability to safety.
“Thank you, Bachelor; you had the power and control to bestow these emotions and you chose to grant them to me. I love you.”
However, the Bachelor’s true genius is purely accidental. While it aims to recreate our fantastical notions of true love, its true unintentional brilliance is that it reveals the opposite; that our ideas and assumptions about love are perhaps upside-down, backward, and even flawed; that culturally we might have it mostly wrong.
History of Love
However, our notions regarding love are established very early; from movies, songs, and stories. They usually convey a similar message about western love, ending with the protagonists struggling but finally coming together to live happily ever after. The drama ends. The story ends. There is nothing but puppy dogs and ice cream from then on. They fall in love; the end.
In the movie Jerry MaGuire, Tom Cruz’s character says “you complete me” to Renée Zellweger’s character. In fairy tales like Cinderella, she waits for Prince Charming to save her and make her happy; the idea, perhaps imprinted more firmly in women that life isn’t complete until there is a man in it. There are countless examples that re-enforce the same messages.
Our Assumptions about Love
When we view another person as the cure for all that ails us, our expectations become misplaced. We describe our true love with god, goddess, and other-worldly like descriptions; “She is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen; I have never felt this way before; I forget about everything else when I’m with her.”
It sounds like we are on drugs; a great drug, no doubt.
Falling out of Love is an Opportunity
Unfortunately, this feeling is fleeting. At some point, we see our partner as a human being, not a goddess or godlike character. However, this is a wonderful opportunity that we often miss; we often conclude that we are no longer in love. The euphoric feeling is in decline or perhaps gone; we think something is amiss with the relationship; we think something is wrong with our partner. As a consequence, many people start to look elsewhere. If we aren’t careful, we can end up chasing this feeling from one person to another our entire lives and miss the opportunity that now is before us.
Culturally, being treated like a princess is proffered as some ideal. However, in return, come the unspoken burdens and pressures of living up to this ideal. While being treated as royalty seems wonderful, perhaps we can see the beauty in being treated and accepted for our humanity; for being imperfect; for being a man, for being a woman. When the euphoria of those initial feelings fade, whether it’s after 3 months or 3 years, pause a moment to recognize the opportunity. Accepting each other on a human level can develop long lasting bonds of a human love born of intimacy, spawned from vulnerability; acceptance of our true identity; to finally be seen.
Life can seem disappointing when the man or woman is, in fact, a human being; flawed. He or she is not this perfect vessel that will cure all that ails.