Road of Romantic Love

The billboard “LOVE” is a huge draw for us. Romantic love is idealized and romanticized from the time we are young. The portrayal of what love is and our hormones combined lead to unrealistic love expectations for many people. It is natural that we all want to find that special someone. The experience of falling in love is very intimate and personal. It starts with physical and emotional attraction, which is based on previous learning and our personalities. Our hopes and dreams become interwoven into this cloak we call “being in love,” and before we know it we’re completely enveloped in the whole experience of feeling special, of passionately caring and being cared about. The trap can be that we fall in love with the ideal rather than the real, and accept unreasonable behavior.

Love relationships entail a healthy amount of commitment, which leads people to work hard to make them successful. As we saw on the previous Road, the healthy dedication of individuals can be used as a lever to get what they want. When efforts to be assertive bring accusations like “you don’t love me enough” or “you’re being selfish,” or “you care more about your friends than you do me,” many people get hooked into wanting to reassure and prove the opposite. The trap is set before they become fully aware of the unreasonableness of controllers’ expectations.

We begin relationships believing in the people we love. Most people, no matter how badly wrong the relationship has gone, have much history that binds them together. Such things as:

  • The day they met,
  • Moment they fell in love,
  • Shared memories,
  • Children,
  • In-laws,
  • Their dreams,
  • Crises they’ve lived through,
  • Fill in the blanks . . .

Losing belief in a person is a painful process involving torn places in the cloak of love caused by hurt, broken promises and dashed hopes. Those who are looking from the outside in find it easy to focus on abusive incidents and to forget the humanity and love of the people involved. It helps to remind them how difficult and long the process usually is before anyone gives up on a relationship. There is a natural grieving process that occurs before reaching acceptance. The emotional process isn’t shortened when there is abuse. If anything, it is even harder.

The internalized predator is that which tells yourself “but I love him, so I can’t leave him.” Love is like a contract, assuming mutual interests and well-being. When someone breaks a contract, you alone cannot repair it. It hurts deeply when we’ve been betrayed and when others aren’t invested in changing. It cracks us open when the people we trust behave in ways that don’t feel loving.

It is vitally important that we care about ourselves enough to reject harmful behavior toward us, even when we love them.

Growth occurs when we confront the betrayals and move past them. “I love you but I don’t love your behavior” may be the beginning of saying no to abuse. Some people respond by wanting to change, but many others seal themselves into a rigid stance of “my way or the highway”.

When we have to close one door, it’s helpful to remember that this permits opening another one down the road, finding others who act lovingly toward us.


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