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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