The story of romantic love, the poet Anne Carson once observed, is always a story about the lover, the beloved, and the differences between them. That is true. But it is also true that the story of romantic love, especially as the lovers themselves tell it, is always a story about the lover, the beloved, and the similarities between them. Both contrast and likeness are inevitable in love, and our culture is conflicted about which matters more. Folk wisdom tells us that opposites attract, while also telling us the opposite of that. “You simply must meet so and so” the would be matchmaker insists. “You have so much in common.” Lost & Found: A Memoir Kathryn Schulz

I found this quote rather interesting, and I overthought it quite a bit.

Is romantic love about the similarities or the differences?

I guess it all goes back to how we define romantic love. I have been trying for years to come up with a proper definition of romantic love, but if I take that quote to heart, perhaps it is impossible to define, because it defies logic. Perhaps it is unexplainable…

We read books and watch movies that talk about love. We wax poetic about the one that got away, or lament that we have never loved, or loved and lost…

But what if romantic love is a construct that really, when it comes down to it, doesn’t exist?

Is romantic love just the emperor streaking down the main thoroughfare, with a bunch of people nodding in agreement, because they want to believe?

Do we want to believe in romantic love SO MUCH that we just attach random definitions to it? That we see an attribute that looks like it should fit and create a pithy quote to make it so? To borrow from Monday’s post, have we manifested the notion of romantic love?

Does romantic love exist? Or did someone make it up and we all just follow along?

If we can say that it’s all about the similarities, yet in the same breath say it’s all about the differences, are we just trying to make the words fit whatever scenario is in front of us?

My question today is:

Does romantic love exist? Why or why not?

Is there one single definition of romantic love?


47 thoughts on “Romantic Love

  1. Yes. Just hang around someone first starting out while you’re halfway along while your parents are still happily together while your one remaining grandparent laments his wife who passed. ❤️

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  2. Analyzing love in any form is not my strongest ability so I won’t even try. I do quite like your thoughts though on the construct of love and suspect that yes, it may be defined not on a grand level but must be defined in terms of the individual. The personal perspective may be the only one that counts, and only at the time it is being considered. I think that means that love only can exist in the moment and when not agreed upon by two at that moment it is nothing…

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  3. I think that romance and love can be together or separate constructs. You can have a romantic time with a person with whom you’re not in love. You can be in love with someone and do something creative, exciting and inspiring. Each exists and sometimes they go together in tandem.

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    1. Exceptionally well said! I recently heard on a show someone say something like “I loved you since before I met you,” and while it was supposed to be swoon worthy, I sided with the character that viewed that kind of “romance” with suspicion. How can you truly love someone you don’t know? I like the differentiation between romance and love you made!

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      1. Thank you! I fell in love with a picture of a woman in 2009, and married her in 2014. I have been divorced about 6-months. I loved her completely, and it didn’t past for her. Your words are truth based on my real experience!

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      2. I appreciate your words of support. I think it was a chapter. That chapter closed. I think that she liked the idea of me loving her, but as I had written earlier, it didn’t *last* for her (not past). For me, it’s taught me in the next pages in my life that I don’t want to be with one person. Lots of romance sounds good for my next chapter.

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  4. I agree that romance and love don’t necessarily have to be together. You can be romantic without having the feeling behind it and you can also be deeply in love without the flowery extras. I think it also can change throughout the relationship. I used to love when my husband would spontaneously bring me flowers. Now I just think of the waste of money because flowers die. Still in love either way.

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  5. I feel like romantic love doesn’t look the same for everyone. And it’s more about meeting the other person’s love language. It would be more romantic to me to come home and find the dishes done than a candlelit dinner. But that’s because acts of service speaks love to me more than gift giving (such as flowers). There’s always this assumption that romance looks a certain way. But we all receive it very differently.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m probably the least romantic person you’ll ever know. But I love rom-coms! Go figure. I suppose I was like that once but got burned too many times. Differences or similarities? Some of both. Definitely.

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  7. I think some people are naturally more romantically-inclined. If you’re not, it doesn’t mean your love is not real. Love languages are real. I think a lot of early romance is infatuation and sexual energy. But some people just seem to have that bent towards romance all the time. I love my husband and he loves me, but neither of us are romantic types. We are both practical. But that first few years…hot stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Romantic love is a construct, and it’s pretty modern. I think that’s why we’re all having such a difficult time pinning down what it actually is and how we should be performing within the construct.

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