Rethinking Romantic Love

Rethinking Romantic Love

April is Couples Appreciation Month: another made-up, random, social media holiday like “Fondue Day?” Or an opportunity to think about romantic relationships?

It’s not often when thinking of love and romance that we stop to think about how our most intimate connections are heavily influenced or governed by society. 

Culturally, love is presented as easy, instant, intuitive, and emotionally driven. When we struggle to find love or fail at keeping love we are riddled with shame and guilt.

The book Relationships by the School of Life speaks to the history of humanity and the varied approaches we have taken to romantic love.

“Few things promise us greater happiness than our relationships – yet few things more reliably deliver misery and frustration. Our error is to suppose that we are born knowing how to love and that managing a relationship might therefore be intuitive and easy. This book starts from a different premise: that love is a skill to be learnt, rather than just an emotion to be felt. It calmly and charmingly takes us around the key issues of relationships, from arguments to sex, forgiveness to communication, making sure that success in love need never again be just a matter of luck.”

 The book offers some consolation, in knowing the history of romantic love as it suggests a lot of what we deem as inadequacy, critical failings, and making bad choices in partnerships – is not solely our responsibility. 

This isn’t to say that we are off the hook when it comes to the quality of our romantic partnerships. Instead, it would behoove us to think beyond what we know or have been taught to expect of romantic relationships and think more deeply about what we truly want in our most intimate connections. 

The reality is, love is not easy and it isn’t just a feeling. 

And as silly as “Couples Appreciation Month” sounds, it needn't be relegated as an extended Valentine’s Day with shallow expressions and grand gestures of love. 

Perhaps this random holiday would be best “celebrated” by couples just being gentle with themselves. Forgiving themselves for any shortcomings. Showing gratitude to one another in small yet significant ways. Setting aside time for conversations around communication, sex, connection, growth, personal goals, and goals for the relationship. Getting curious and asking questions about your own beliefs around romantic love. 

  • Where did you learn about partnership? 
  • Who are your role models when it comes to couples? 
  • What outside influences led to your beliefs around love? 
  • How would you describe the quality of your current or past relationships? 
  • What you would like to bring to your relationship(s)?  
  • What needs or desires aren’t being met?

Whether you're in a long-term partnership, casually dating, or single, examining the origins of your beliefs around relationships is a healthy exercise for self-awareness and personal growth.

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