Delving deeper into the essay on Romantic Realism, let’s look a little closer at the first sorrow of love. Here is the cliff notes version of “I’ve become a monster.” Romantic Realism suggests that we’re likely to end up being significantly less kind to our partner than towards most every other person. This happens for a number of reasons:
- It feels as though our life is on the line with our partners because so much of our lives become intertwined with them. As the essay states “we ask them to be our lover, our best friend, our confidant, our nurse, our financial advisor, our chauffeur, our co-educator, our social partner and our sex mate. Together with them, we set up a house, raise a child, run the family finances, nurse our elderly parents, manage our careers, go on holiday and explore our sexuality. The good lover needs to be a blend of therapist, PA, teacher, host, chef, nurse and escort.”
- Furthermore, committed long term partnership means “we cannot easily fire the partner and flee when issues arise. Many frustrating situations are rendered a great deal more bearable with the thought that we can escape them without too many penalties. But within long-term love, an irritant that exists now may possibly have to be endured for many decades.”
- “What further makes us monsters is that we don’t, when agitated, say clearly and calmly what might be bothering us. Instead, we lose our composure and scream, sulk and get bitter.”
- “We’re monsters too because we labour under the illusion that we are, on the whole, really quite easy to live with – and, under such illusions, don’t prepare our partners for the struggles they will have with us, or apologise readily enough for the damage we cause. We fall prey to a belief in our own normality because it can be so hard to see where our crazy sides are located. We labour under the self-righteous belief that we are a relatively plausible and sound person to be with . . . “
- “Another alarming reason why we are mean to our partners is that we ultimately feel safe enough to be horrible to them. With a partner, we are – below the surface – confident that they won’t run away. Their loyalty makes them a safe target for acting out our more distressed and desperate emotions.”
I know, this sounds so daunting. It is. And at the same time, it is meant to normalize this thing that is so misunderstood . . . long-term committed love.
Until next time, peace.