“Why do people prioritise romantic love,” I often see aromantic people ask, “as if all other forms of love are inferior?”
As if romantic love were ever a plain choice and not a sledgehammer of narcotics and stimulants triggered by arbitrary factors – or perhaps that is new relationship energy (NRE) and not the same as that true romantic love that can develop between life-long partners.
Or perhaps that is wrong again. Is the deep and abiding love between life-long partners based purely on affection and familiarity – attachment, if you will, and friendship – and nothing actually to do with romantic love?
Romantic love is such an intangible thing. At its best, it’s drowning in someone’s eyes, endorphins flooding the bloodstream; it’s holding on to someone and wanting never to let go; it’s finding everything about someone beautiful and fascinating; it’s about being willing to do absolutely anything, no matter how embarrassing or dangerous, just to get one smile from the beloved.
At the beginning, romantic love is powerful. The euphoria can last for hours, or days, or months, but as the years go by it diminishes to a mere echo. Instead of a conflagration, it is a flame. Tended well, fed regularly with chocolates and flowers and I love yous, it becomes a hearth fire, but these coded romantic gestures are not the conflagration that is yearned for.
When even sex is coded as romantic, then sexual desire is taken as proof of romantic love – and lack of sexual desire taken as proof that love is no longer.
Romantic love is irrational. It can’t be controlled. That’s why it’s called ‘falling in love’ – because it’s a loss of control. And because it can’t be controlled, what’s to stop the beloved falling for someone else?
If falling in love is like the discovery of sunshine after darkness what could be worse than having your beloved banish you once again to darkness?
No wonder romantic love is so possessive, and so fraught with insecurity and jealousy.
It isn’t love at all.