Against Romance

I’m annoyed with the idea of romance as depict­ed in most media. 

That romance is idiots throw­ing them­selves into unsus­tain­able rela­tion­ships because they want to bump fuzzies. That romance is fools killing them­selves over mis­un­der­stand­ings (a la Romeo & Juli­et). That romance is infat­u­at­ed peo­ple swear­ing eter­nal devo­tion and being insane­ly jeal­ous of their love’s every glance.

In short, it’s that “in love” state, limer­ence. It’s referred to as “NRE” (new rela­tion­ship ener­gy) in polyamorous cir­cles. It can be addic­tive. It isn’t a basis for a healthy rela­tion­ship. It can feel great, and it’s moti­va­tion to get to know some­one bet­ter and start build­ing a rela­tion­ship. It isn’t, how­ev­er, sus­tain­able. Romeo and Juli­et only man­aged it by dying young and stupid.

Too many peo­ple think that when the NRE is gone, the rela­tion­ship is dying. If you’re still togeth­er with­out limer­ence, you have a chance at some­thing wonderful.

Roman­tic ges­tures are anoth­er thing alto­geth­er. Remem­ber­ing anniver­saries, leav­ing sweet notes for your part­ner, or get­ting flow­ers “just because” are all great. They should­n’t end after the first blush is off the rose.

Yes, I’m grumpy about it. I’ve seen too many peo­ple engage in ser­i­al monogamy, in which they line up a new part­ner before end­ing things with their cur­rent part­ner, but jus­ti­fy them­selves because they aren’t “in love” any­more, or by say­ing “we just fell in love, you can’t deny that” about the new part­ner. That’s dis­hon­est in oh so many ways, and they have to be lying to them­selves first—but our cul­ture encour­ages that by ele­vat­ing “being in love” and monogamy to the high­est pin­na­cles of rela­tion­ship achievement.

To be fair, I’ve also seen peo­ple bop from one poly rela­tion­ship to anoth­er as NRE addicts, but they usu­al­ly get a bad rep­u­ta­tion in polyamorous cir­cles pret­ty quick­ly, and there isn’t as much moti­va­tion to lie. It’s still wrong.

If you’re in a rela­tion­ship of any sort, keep your com­mit­ments. Stick it out. If you “fall out of love” put in the work to fig­ure out what’s real­ly going on and build a last­ing love. If there’s not enough there for a last­ing rela­tion­ship built on com­mit­ment, on love as actions, then be hon­est with each oth­er and end things clean­ly. Give each oth­er clo­sure. It does­n’t mat­ter if you’re monog­a­mous or polyamorous or some­thing I haven’t heard of, keep it clean.

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