Love Poetry and Romantic Fantasy

…Tremble with me
in paralyzing pauses.
I may no longer breathe
without breathing you.
~ Judith Pordon

Ah, romance, how we love it—hate it—crave it—resist it—long for it—deny it. We’ve just passed one of single women’s least celebrated days. Red hearts are displayed in every store, along with sentimental Valentine’s poems, cards with schmaltzy love poetry and the musical theme from the tear-jerker movie Love Story, or worse yet An Affair to Remember. That’s the one in which Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr’s rendezvous at the top of the Empire State Building fails to happen when she’s hit by a car en route. But we’re spared disappointment as we’re swept away by the fantasy that’s finally consummated in its happily-ever-after ending. Don’t get me wrong, I love romantic movies and happy endings myself, but our society is in love with romance – actually addicted to it in an unhealthy way.

Americans have romanticized our heroes and heroines throughout history in novels, biographies, documentaries, movies, and even the news.

The media constantly bombards us with scandalous stories about religious leaders, politicians and athletes cheating on their wives and impregnating their mistresses (Tiger Woods and John Edwards most recently). Celebrities are some of our favorite idols to watch. Our curiosity about their personal lives borders on obsession. TV and magazines hook us into their romantic break-ups, make-ups, and cover-ups. Is Brangelina splitting and will Jen take Brad back? And of course the latest gossip is characterized by media as shocking, so we can’t miss that report.

We go into relationships with unrealistic and fantasy expectations

Daytime soap operas have been around for over 50 years for a reason: they’re addicting. I know women who race home on their lunch break or scurry to the lunchroom at the office to watch The Young and the Restless. After all, is Victor going to reveal his true love to Nickie when he awakes from his coma? Everyone loves the roller coaster drama of life’s agony and ecstasy, the underdog winning over the bully, and love requited after lovers’ conflicts and disappointments. Our hearts race as we’re catapulted to emotional heights, then sink as we plummet from an unexpected twist. Adrenalin and endorphins rush through our bodies, and we suddenly feel more alive with something to anticipate, hope for, or dream about for ourselves. What a high!

Romance movies create high drama between couples playing games with each other, such as How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days, or perhaps He’s Just Not That Into You. One of the story lines is a desperate woman who makes a fool of herself chasing men, but in the end wins the most unlikely guy. But the problem with romantic movies – and books and other media – is that they don’t really present us with good models for how people should relate to one another. After all, not many people want to spend money to see or read about a happy couple living a peaceful, joyful life and handling problems without a lot of hubbub. That would be awfully boring.

Our society is in love with romance because it feels really good, at least temporarily. Like love poetry, romance tugs at our heart strings and connects us to our deepest emotions, seducing us like a hallucinogenic drug. We adore the uncontrollable feeling of connecting and melding our energies into magical union with the faith that love will conquer all. The exquisite harmony we experience with sexual chemistry is often mistakenly believed to lead to harmony in all aspects of the relationship. Our 50% divorce rate proves this is not a good gauge.
Most marriages start out with the couple feeling like they’re soulmates who will last forever. But how can you be soulmates one day and bitter enemies the next? I think it’s because we don’t select partners from a realistic perspective, and we get caught up in the fantasies ingrained in us by romanticized books, media, and movies, which are reinforced with love poetry that seeps into our subconscious. We go into relationships with unrealistic and fantasy expectations of each other and hope for the rapturous feeling to last eternally. I think that’s why there are so many affairs and broken marriages. Once you’ve experienced the elation and bliss of love and romance, it’s an emotional high that you crave. And you want it back when it dissipates after the reality of bills, kids, schedules, and day-to-day life set in. Someone must be to blame, so it must be my partner. It’s the great escape.

Let’s face it, we live in times where we want instant gratification, so combine that with ecstasy-bliss addiction, and you’ve got a lot of strung-out people who need another fix which causes relationships to fall apart. I think we should get real and honest with ourselves about these fantasy ever-afters and start to make our mate selection using more important compatibility factors, such as a person’s way of being, complementary values, and how they deal with conflict, intimacy, and communication. If we make those aspects a priority over the illusions invented from lust and romantic fantasies, we’ll have more stable and lasting relationships. And less drama in our own lives—leave that to TV characters!

Do love and life differently: Here’s how I see the difference between a romantic fantasy and an intentional vision: Fantasy is an illusion of a man who’ll heal your wounded self or you his; and it’s temporary and created from your mind . Intentional vision encompasses the realities of life with a man; and it’s enduring and is created from your feelings and your heart.

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