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  • Since around 1750

  • we've been living in a highly distinctive era in the history of love

  • that we can call "romanticism".

  • Romanticism emerged as an ideology in Europe in the mid 18th century

  • in the minds of poets, artists and philosophers.

  • And it's now conquered the world.

  • No single relationship ever follows the romantic template exactly.

  • But it's broad outlines are frequently present, nevertheless.

  • And can be summed up as follows:

  • Romanticism is deeply hopeful about marriage.

  • Romanticism took marriage,

  • hitherto seen as practical and emotionally temperate union,

  • and fused it together with a passionate love story

  • to create a unique proposition of a life-long, passionate love marriage.

  • Along the way romanticism united love and sex.

  • Previously people had imagined that they could have sex with characters they didn't love,

  • and that they could love someone without having extraordinary sex with them.

  • Romanticism elevated sex to the supreme expression of love.

  • Frequent, mutually satisfying sex became the bellwether of the health of any relationship.

  • Without necessarily meaning to, romanticism made infrequent sex and adultery into catastrophes.

  • Romanticism proposed that true love must mean an end to all loneliness.

  • The right partner must, it promised, understand us entirely

  • possibly without needing even to speak to us.

  • They would intuit our souls.

  • Romantics put a special premium on the idea that our partner might understand us without needing to say anything.

  • Romanticism believed that choosing a partner should be about letting oneself be guided by feelings,

  • rather than practical considerations.

  • You know you're in love because you have a special feeling.

  • Romanticism has manifested a powerful disdain for practicalities and money.

  • It feels cold or, as we say, unromantic

  • to say you know you're with the right person because the two of you make an excellent financial fit

  • or because you cherish the things like bathroom etiquette and attitudes to punctuality.

  • Romanticism believes that true love is synonymous with accepting everything about someone.

  • The idea that one's partner or oneself may need to change

  • is taken to be a sign that the relationship is on the rocks.

  • "You're going to have to change" is a last ditch threat.

  • This template of love is a historical creation.

  • It's a hugely beautiful and often enjoyable one.

  • But we can state boldly: romanticism has been a disaster for relationships.

  • It's an intellectual and spiritual movement

  • which has had a devastating impact on the ability of ordinary people

  • to lead succesful emotional lives.

  • The salvation of love lies in overcoming a succession of errors within romanticism.

  • These are some of the myths of romanticism.

  • That we should meet a person of extraordinary inner and outer beauty

  • and immediately feel a special attraction to them and they to us.

  • We should have highly satisfying sex, not only at the start, but forever.

  • We should never be attracted to anyone else

  • We should understand one another intuitively.

  • We don't need an education in love.

  • We may need to train to become a pilot or brain surgeon, but not a lover.

  • We'll pick that up along the way by following our feelings.

  • We should have no secrets and spend constant time together.

  • Work won't get in the way.

  • We should raise a family without any loss of sexual or emotional intensity.

  • Our lover must be our soulmate, best friend, co-parent, co-chauffeur, accountant, household manager and spiritual guide.

  • If we question the assumptions of the romantic view of love

  • it's not in order to destroy love, but to save it.

  • We need to piece together a post-romantic theory of couples

  • because in order to make a relationship last

  • we have to be disloyal to the romantic emotions that get us into it in the first place.

  • We need to replace the romantic template with a psychologically mature vision of love we might call "classical",

  • and which encourages in us a range of unfamiliar, but hopefully effective, attitudes.

  • For example:

  • That it's normal that love and sex may not always belong together.

  • That discussing money, early on, up front, in a serious way, is not a betrayal of love.

  • That realizing that we're rather flawed, and our partner is too, is a huge benefit to a couple

  • because it increases the amount of tolerance and generosity in circulation.

  • That we will never find everything in one person, nor they in us,

  • not because of some unique flaw, but because that's just the way human nature is.

  • That we need to make amends and often rather artificial sounding efforts to understand one another.

  • That intuition can't get us where we need to go.

  • And that spending two hours discussing whether bathroom towels should be hung up or can be left on the floor

  • is neither trivial nor unserious.

  • There is a special dignity around issues of laundry and time keeping.

  • All these attitudes and more belong to a new, more hopeful, post-romantic future for love.

Since around 1750

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How Romanticism Ruined Love

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    VoiceTube posted on 2016/07/06
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