The thing about writing love stories when you’re a naturally cynical person with disastrous relationships in her past is that achieving the willing suspension of disbelief necessary to convince the reader that they all lived happily ever after is really difficult. I have found, in trying to do this, that the most useful thing to remember is that we’re writing to promise mature love. Immature love/infatuation is easy to write, but everybody knows that doesn’t last. Mature love, the connection beyond conditions, is hard to write, but if we can get that promise on the page, it’s what powers the romance.
So when I turned back to Nita and thought, Okay, it’s a romance, but they’re only going to know each other five days, how the hell am I going to foreshadow mature love in that time?” And then I was reading the Gil Cunningham mysteries which made me think of Renaissance poetry (those mysteries are pre-Renn, but still, ye olde times), and I remembered my favorite love poem of all time, John Donne’s “A Valediction Forbidding Mourning.”
Donne was the son of an ironmonger who was sent to school above his station and evidently had a remarkably good time, since he is almost universally referred to as “the rake, John Donne” during that part of his bio. In 1599 when he was twenty-seven (old enough to know better, young enough not to care), he fell madly in love with the 15-year-old niece of his patron, and in 1601, they eloped. All hell broke loose, and Donne ended up in prison for awhile, and the impact on his career was ruinous: he and Ann lived on the charity of benefactors while he did whatever job was offered to him, while Ann gave birth twelve times in sixteen years. But earlier, in 1611, ten years after his marriage, he received a commission to travel to Europe on business. It was a good news/bad news situation. The good news is that you’ve been given a position that might lead to great things. The bad news is that you’re going on a dangerous voyage that you may never return from and your wife is “heavily pregnant” and freaking out. So he wrote “A Valediction Forbidding Mourning” to her,which is pretty much “There’s no crying in this relationship even though I’m going a dangerous journey and you’re eight months pregnant with our seventh kid.”
“Valedition” is full of conceits, clever extended metaphors that verge on showing off until you begin to unpack them and realize how brilliantly they capture the couple’s very real love. “Valedicton” joins Shakespeare’s “Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds” (Sonnet 116) and Elizabeth Browning’s “If thou must love me” (Sonnet 14) as a protest against infatuation and a celebration of mature love. All of these very brilliant people knew the truth about real love: it has no conditions.
And now a short non-poetical digression. Many researchers on romantic love have concluded that falling in love happens in stages, the two big ones being Immature and Mature Love, also knows as Conditional Love and Unconditional Love, also known as Infatuation/Limearnce and The Real Thing. That means that the big question that comes to mind every time you fall for somebody–“Is this just infatuation or is this forever?”–is finally answered: It’s infatuation. Infatuation is the gateway to The Real Thing, it’s just that sometimes people don’t make it to the gate.
If you make it through infatuation, you can find yourself in mature love, the kind that lasts. What’s the difference? Well, mature love is calmer, for one thing. Infatuation is like being on speed: your heart hammers, you can’t think, you’re breathless all the time, and you have a strong suspicion that this is not good for you but you lean into the rush anyway. Mature love is calm; when you see your lover your heart does not race, you just feel good, everything is better when that person is close. This is because immature love releases one kind of chemical in your brain and mature love releases another (endorphins!) but for the purposes of writing romance, writing infatuation is “My god, this is exciting” and writing mature love is “Yes, this is where I belong.”
For writers, the bad news is that it takes six months to three years to pass through the immature stage and into mature love, and most of our stories don’t cover that much time. (Another problem: infatuation is exciting and mature love is calm, and nobody wants a calm climax to her story.) Nita and Nick know each other five days, so they’re still early in the infatuation page. How do I convince cynics like me that they’re going to be The Real Thing? Foreshadowing, grasshoppers. And what are we foreshadowing? Unconditional love.
A lot of romance novels are big on conditional love. “I love you because you’re gorgeous, I love you because you’re smart, I love you because you’re funny, I love you because you’re great in bed, I love you because you’re kind to animals, I love you because you take care of me, I love you because you rescue me, etc.” Those are all good reasons to approve of each other, but they are also, inherently, conditions. In other words, what you’re really saying is, “”I love you as long as you continue to be gorgeous, smart, funny, great in bed, kind to animals, take care of me, rescue me etc. If you stop doing those things, my love is gone.” Mature love says, “I love you,” not what you do, I love the intrinsic you. Erich Fromm sums it up as immature love is “I love you because I need you” and mature love is “I need you because I love you.” It’s the reason that the spouses of Alzheimer’s patients love them even when all the conditions are gone. It’s the brass ring on love carousel: I love you unconditionally because you’re you.
Yeah, now get that on the page.
Let’s go back to Donne’s “A Valediction Forbidding Mourning.” He rejects conditional love directly in the 13th to 20th lines:
Dull sublunary lovers’ love
—Whose soul is sense—cannot admit
Of absence, ’cause it doth remove
The thing which elemented it.
But we by a love so much refined,
That ourselves know not what it is,
Inter-assurèd of the mind,
Care less, eyes, lips and hands to miss.
In other words, lesser lovers will fall out of love if they can’t have the conditions of that love, seeing each other, holding each other, kissing (there’s your romance novel), but their love is beyond that, beyond conditions. In fact . . .
Our two souls therefore, which are one,
Though I must go, endure not yet
A breach, but an expansion,
Like gold to aery thinness beat.
I love this conceit, that their love won’t break because of their separation but will grow larger, spreading like beaten gold leaf, even to “airy thinness,” making it part of the air they breathe.
If they be two, they are two so
As stiff twin compasses are two;
Thy soul, the fix’d foot, makes no show
To move, but doth, if th’ other do.
And though it in the centre sit,
Yet, when the other far doth roam,
It leans, and hearkens after it,
And grows erect, as that comes home.
Such wilt thou be to me, who must,
Like th’ other foot, obliquely run;
Thy firmness makes my circle just
And makes me end where I begun.
This is the part that takes my breath away. First of all he’s comparing their love to a compass which is a helluva conceit. Comparing it to gold–precious and rare–even comparing it to gold leaf, is pretty standard poetic metaphor. But a compass? Well, yes, she’s the firmness at the center of their lives, and he revolves around her because their souls are forever joined, and he will forever come home to her because “thy firmness makes my circle just.” That’s mature love. He’s not coming home to her because she’s cute or good in bed or keeps giving birth to his kids, he’s coming home because he’s joined to her forever, making his life a circle around her.
That’s what I want to get on the page in my romances, that sense of inevitability. Those blurbs “Can he save her?” (duh) always annoy me, but the ones that REALLY make me nuts are the ones that ask “Can they make this work?” First of all, it’s a romance novel. That’s like asking of a murder mystery if the detective will solve the puzzle: of course he or she will solve the puzzle, it’s a freaking murder mystery. So of course, they’ll make it work and end up together, if they don’t, it’s not a romance novel. The story is about how they get there (and it’s not through a Big Misunderstanding, don’t make me come over there and slap you). I’ve got to get that “of course” on the page.
So how? First of, violating the conditions. She’s not beautiful, the sex isn’t always great, they each do something the other person strongly objects to, they fight and it’s not cute banter, they both have doubts and talk through them, but when the chips are down, they stick, no matter what, even (maybe especially) if it means sacrificing something important. And by Act Four, they both know that their love can be beaten to airy thinness and will not break, it’ll become the air they breathe, always bringing them back to each other. It doesn’t matter what they do or say, what happens around them, they’re forever together in that golden light.
So that’s what I’m doing now with Nita. Writing romance is not easy, Argh People. “A Valediction Forbidding Mourning” is a good road map for how to do it.
Note: How good is this gold/compass conceit? The symbol for gold is a circle with a dot in the middle. There’s a reason Donne is considered the best of the metaphysical poets. See also “No man is an island,” “Death be not proud,” and “Go and catch a falling star.”
60 thoughts on “Writing the Real Thing”
Wow. That is a beautiful explanation of that poem. I don’t think I ever got that, not even when I took a college class on 17th century poetry. (At first I didn’t care for Donne. Then I read the other poets, and decided Donne was much better than all the rest.)
PS – Paragraph 3 looks like you might need to change the first word from Moore to Donne.
Huh. Why did I do that? Fixed, thank you.
I have loved John Donne forever – this valediction, the Nocturnal upon St Lucy’s Day and The Sun Rising are my favourites. I love his writing, his personality, the variety and richness of his life. Thank you so much for taking us through it, lovely insights.
This last summer, I went to our nearby stately home, Loseley House, owned by the More-Molyneux family and home to Anne More as a child, and the place where she met John Donne. I have known the story, but I hadn’t connected up the place and people. It is only open to the public for a few weeks each year, but absolutely worth visiting. http://www.loseleypark.co.uk/house/#discovering-the-house
Oh, thanks, Zeba – I’ve only been to the gardens there, twenty years ago. Wanted to visit again when I was in Surrey recently, but it had closed for the season. Will definitely try and get there next year. I’d no idea about this connection.
Hmm. I was there. Didn’t enter the house or view the art -pftt!- but the gardens, good goddess, the gardens!
Thank you for sending me back to A Valediction. I started reading Donne because Mary Stewart quoted “No man is an island…” in “My Brother Michael”, and continued when Peter Wimsey wooed Harriet Vane with Donne’s letters.
I hadn’t known I would be able to quote so much of A Valediction – it’s clearly been sitting in my sub-conscious underpinning my idea of love for years.
Now the references to Donne in Sayers offer up yet more resonances in the Lord Peter and Harriet Vane romance. Thank you, Jenny and Sarah.
Honestly, I can’t even get into the language of the poems or really “get” them or even translate what they are saying (sigh…I’m just dumb….and of course I have an English degree), but I really love this post and in its own way is the most romantic post ever. Like AWWWWWWW.
I hope someday this pans out for me. It might with this fellow, we’ll have to see. It definitely has played out so far along the lines of mature rather than infatuation and back-having. Really I don’t think it’s been “infatuation” at all there. Slow creeping 😛 I pretty much like the guy regardless of stuff that kind of gives me pause, like the age difference and me being a clueless git in the kitchen which might, I dunno, kill him because he has one of those food allergies. So I’m relating to this for a change.
I am kind of surprised that you’re into being a romance writer under the circumstances of real life never panning out on this level for you (as far as I can tell from here). It does sound like a hard mental place to reach. So good job on doing it fictionally 🙂
I regret nothing (g).
My theory is, that since it’s never worked out for me there’s more mystery and yearning there for me to explore. When I finally get round to my fiction project again.
Good point. Jenny, what made you start writing romance?
I also second having issues understanding the language. No Fear Shakespeare kind of ruins his work, but at the same time translates more than it ruins, making it good. I need a No Fear for poetry lol. Do you recommend any particular works that break down DJ’s poetry in particular??
No Fear Shakespeare worked for me this summer during As You Like It.
No Fear Shakespeare is great at still getting most of the nuances of the language when paraphrasing. As a high school English teacher,I love recommending it to students who are struggling with the originals.
If anybody knows of something similar for John Donne’s work. I would love to hear about it!
Jennifer, perhaps part of Jenny’s inspiration to write mature love into existence is *because* it hasn’t worked out? After all, I love reading aboutlives that are different from mine,and have very little interest in mediathat shows the things I’m more familiar with. Like the time my dadtried to get me to watch the season of The Wire that focued on inner-city education… I took one look at the first episode, and said, that kid looks just like my student and the plot cues are telling me he is definitely going to get shot, so I am not going to watch this!
I was working on my PhD dissertation which was on the difference in the way men and women tell stories. So I began by reading 100 romance novels, to be followed by 100 men’s adventure novels. But the impact that reading 100 romance novels (even the bad ones) had on me was so profound, that I switched my diss to that, and then I started writing them, and then I got published, and then the head of the creative writing department said, “You should be working on an MFA” so I transferred and graduated with that instead of the PhD, although he made me promise I’d finish the diss, too. (Sorry about that, Lee.). And by the time I had the MFA, I was in hardcover at St. Martin’s, and finishing my next novel was more important than finishing the diss, so . . . .
I love this! Still want your take on men’s stories. 😛 but I feel like we have snippets from when you edit with Bob!
Those are NSFW.
I don’t, sorry. I haven’t been an English teacher for thirty years (if you don’t count writing) so I’m completely out of the loop on teaching support.
Nicole, I’d hunt around for a good annotated edition that explains the references. Then, I think, you need to puzzle it out/let it resonate for you. Poetry like this is so intricate. Oh, and listening to it, if you can find a good reader, always helps. (I remember having a real block about T. S. Eliot until I heard Alec Guiness reading his poems.)
Thanks! There is an audiobook version at the library I’ve got tagged haha
Actually, I do second this in regards to listening. One big hurdle for the modern reader is the spelling.
Check out the absolutely brilliant Playing Shakespeare https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2VnxiW3oqk&list=PLboSQWmG70j_S2nWkRlncZYW49nLeFKWj by the late, brilliant John Barton, who ran (and I think founded?) the RSC.
While it is for actors, it’s a wonderful way to get excited about Shakespeare and a way in to the text. And, I keep recommending it to writers, because there’s a lot that can be gleaned for them, too. (For me, anyway.)
Those who can’t do, write.
I haven’t had a relationship in almost 18 years, alas. But I still write love stories.
Well, how many people did Agatha Christie murder?
We will never know…
This is a truly wonderful essay for writers who want to deal with Love (note the Capital L) with truth and strength, avoiding nonsense. As a writer, thank you from the bottom of my inkwell.
I do have a recommendation for reading about the development of mature Love. And it’s that most impossible of all things, a good Christmas story at the same time. Connie Willis put out a book of short stories, “A Lot Like Christmas”, and the first story “Miracle” is truly a study in mature Love, with humor and a clear-eyed depiction of that most dreaded holiday.
Try it, you’ll love it (small L)
This is not a Happiness post but, By Goddess, this whole post made me VERY HAPPY!
I loved No Man Is An Island and incorporated it into my frame of reference with how I deal with people. I try to be extra nice to any service personnel – bank tellers, cashiers, cleaners, EVERYBODY. Because it’s both , the right thing and, I’d be a caricature of myself without them.
PS. I shall not be getting patchy puppy. I cannot afford her in either cash (food, vet bills, training, toys) or time. And she deserves more.
I’m so sorry you can’t get the puppy, but I applaud your restraint.
This post reminds me of a scene in the Thirtysomething TV show (as probably far too many things do). Spoiler alert.
It is a scene between Hope and Nancy after Nancy’s marriage to Elliot has been through the ringer (mostly b/c of Elliot), and Hope seems to be judging Nancy for even considering giving Elliot another chance. And Nancy comes back saying something to the effect that one day Hope’s marriage will be faced with serious problems, that her husband will do something that rocks her to her core, too, but it just hasn’t happened yet. And to explain her continued interest in Elliot, Nancy doesn’t try to justify it yet basically says, “There’s just something about the way he thinks.” Ergo the thing that connects them goes beyond superficial stuff.
This scene was very well done I thought with merely a few short words that addressed a lot and definitely point to your idea of showing mature, lasting love and connection. Which can be, as you say, tough to write. And which is why this scene struck me at the time and why I remember it still.
Not a book example, but a good story example of both efficiency and depth I think in showing something that is really often inexplicable even by the people in it in real life:)
I only know Go and Catch a falling star thanks to Dianne Wynne Jones, she used it Howl’s Moving Castle and I loved it (can recite by heart), though it took me a while to figure out John Donne was real. Then came across him in Busman’s honeymoon
That was what hooked me on Donne – Howl’s Moving Castle – and I never looked back.
This makes me think of one of my favorite Georgette moments, in Frederica:
“It has always seemed to me that if one falls in love with any gentleman one becomes instantly blind to his faults.But I am not blind to your faults, and I do not think that everything you do or say is right! Only—Is it being—not very comfortable—and cross—and not quite happy, when you aren’t there?” “That, my darling,” said his lordship,taking her ruthlessly into his arms,“is exactly what it s!” “Oh—!” Frederica gasped, as she emerged from an embrace which threatened to suffocate her. “Now I know! I am in love!”
For me, the hardest part is making myself believe. If I can believe then maybe I can convey that to my readers.
It’s so much easier for me to believe in Colonel Brandon (Austin) than in a modern-day hero, although Darcy in Bridget Jone’s Diary does come close. Perhaps that’s just my crush on Colin Firth.
I sometimes wonder if the fast pace of our lives hinders the development of mature love.
Well there are definitely a lot of distractions/comforting substitutes. And consumerism tells us to replace everything with something new and shiny all the time. And don’t think deeply, or the lure of the superficial will be broken . . .
I, too, love Valediction: Forbidding Mourning.
Separately, I was super surprised when Cynthie’s psychology of love turned out to be the Crusie theory. In Bet Me. I was all for Tony’s chaos theory, though Bonnie’s “make your fairy tale come true” attitude was really powerful.
I found this out a while back when I read your post on romance, but today’s post brought it back to me. Having been a teacher, it’s fun to read about someone who can teach the lesson but who can’t follow through and do what she taught. (Yes, Cynthie does it after the events of the book, but she can’t force it to happen with Cal.)
Actually, I think all three theories were the same, they were just seen through different PoV’s. Cynthia wanted science, Bonnie wanted to believe, and Tony wanted it to just happen.
Thank you so much for the introduction to that poem and for the clarification on what we must convey.
I feel motivated.
Yeah, but remember, these are Really More of a Guideline. Argh does not do “must” or “should.” We’re more of a “how about this?” kind of blog.
I think it’s the social fixation on dating as an occasion to dress up, spend too much money, act agreeable and polite at all moments, and go do fun or exciting things.
People should clean out stables together, or babysit multiple two-year-olds together while burping twin babies, or change a tire or that kind of thing. In sweats. Without combs or makeup. After not sleeping well the night before. If an acquaintanceship can deepen after that, a good thing has started that might, just might turn into something sensibly like mature love.
Imho, of course. 🙂
I’ve been poking the edges of unconditional love with a stick lately.
One of the big lessons of my 20s was that, for me, I have to put some conditions on my love so I don’t end up with so many bumps and bruises. I’ve made a few spectactularly bad choices in both friends and lovers, and learned that there are choices people make that will make me… if not stop loving a person, then decide that I need to love myself enough to leave.
I’m trying to get better about boundaries as I get older, and the more I learn about boundaries the more I wonder if truly unconditional love is actually healthy. I agree, making love conditonal on things someone can’t control or on people and life staying exactly the same until death do you part is ridiculous. But I’ve been thinking a lot about how you combine a healthy relationship with unconditonal love– or if I’ve set up a false dichotomy and there’s another perspective I’ve been taking.
Anyway, part of the reason I’m thinking about it is my brain has sent up an idea for a romance novel and I’m worried I may be too cynical to do it justice.
I think you always subconsciously have boundaries. That is, I think you have to share a common set of values.
But I also think that sometimes it just hits you. There’s a LOT more to love theory that I put here, but the big thing for writing for me is not to rely just on the conditional things. But absolutely there are boundaries: anybody hitting a dog, for example. Or me. Or a kid. I could go on, but the thing is nobody I’ve ever been with has ever done any of those things, so I think there’s an unconscious selection going on during infatuation that isn’t about the romance-novel stuff–looking hot in jeans or being beautiful or having the great sex–that probably acts a filter. Be rude to a waiter and you’ve lost me forever. Steal something small that “nobody will miss.” That kind of thing. CLUES.
I think some of it is having conditions on how you feel about someone, vs. having conditions on how they treat you/ what you’ll give them. This is platonic love, not romantic love, but I think of when my Grandma let my cousin (who at the time wouldn’t admit he was struggling with drug addiction) live with her, until he stole from her purse, at which point she politely but firmly kicked him out. She maintained a relationship with him, and kept loving him, but she had to draw a boundary for that love to stay healthy, and for him to eventually get to a place where he’s sober and devoting his life to helping other recovering addicts. Or I think of parents I know who love their kids unconditionally, but that doesn’t mean they let their kid steal another kid’s toy without consequence. You’re right, I’m not sure how to translate that to romantic love, but I think maybe it’s some version of “I’ll always love you, but that doesn’t mean I’ll always give in to you”.
but are boundaries the same as conditions?
wondering about this now because I am writing a thing about two guys who have both.
I think there’s a subtle difference.
A condition is “if you don’t meet this assumption I have about you, I’m gone.”
So if A meets B and thinks he’s a good kind person (assumption) and then finds out he’s rude to waiters, A is gone because B has failed to meet a condition A put on the relationship. B is not the person A thought he or she was. It’s personal.
A boundary is more universal. Cruelty to people and animals is wrong. Lying is wrong. Stealing is wrong. These are the boundaries I set for everyone, not just you personally.
So I think that while we tend to be attracted to people who don’t cross our boundaries, those aren’t necessarily the things that become conditional. Having a great sense of humor is probably not a value; I know a lot of people who don’t and they’re still really good people. But if A meets B and thinks he or she has a great, quirky outlook on life and then later finds out B is just a jerk who was having a good night, that’s a condition/assumption that B can’t meet and there ends infatuation.
OTOH, there are boundary-breakers who become more attractive just because they breach those boundaries, the Bad Boys, Anti-Heroes, etc. Loki, Captain Cold, Hannibal Lecter, Spike, etc.
It’s not a simple concept. Look into psych theories on attraction and love: it’s fascinating but it’s really complicated.
Love this. Sayer’s Whimsey and Harriet quoting Donne was eye opening to his poetry. A catalyst to read his poems. This was very enlightening as I don’t read very much poetry. Really I should.
I get this. Not the poem, but your explanation of it. I have probably read over a thousand romances. I love them, (as long as the characters aren’t stupid). But I am one of the least romantic people I know. I never understood wanting a bad boy and a dramatic relationship. I wanted someone I trusted. As much as I love reading the drama; I’ve never wanted to live it.
Brilliant post. Would you characterize William Butler Yeats’ love for Maude Gonne as infatuation or mature love? She turned down several marriage proposals from him but it’s probably too simplistic to call it “unrequited”. And he seems to love her as much if not more for her Irish Revolutionary politics as for her beauty. When a friend of Yeats told him that Maude Gonne was getting grey hair and implied Yeats would finally feel better because her beauty was ebbing he wrote a poem about how time would only make her more beautiful. It’s never a conventional relationship of course but their lives stay entwined for decades.
Whatever it was, I’m grateful to Maude Gonne for inspiring his poetry 🥰
Kudos to you for no regrets!
Unconditional love says it doesn’t matter if you don’t love me (loving me is a condition).
But the divide between unconditional love and obsessions is hard to see. Doesn’t matter; we have the poetry regardless (and Yeat’s wasn’t stalking Gonna, so there’s that).
What a fabulous post. Lots to think about and chew on. Makes me want to write again. Ha ha.
The compass metaphor always reminds me of a line from an Owl City song, If My Heart Was A House. “Circle me and the needle moves gracefully back and forth; if my heart was a compass you’d be north.”
I think this is why I enjoy Carla Kelly’s romance novels. I always describe them as a calm love but now I would say that she is writing about mature love. And often there is a long-ish interlude (can’t get too long in a Christmas romance) in the middle of the romance. Makes sense now. Her stories are not usually exciting but the6 make me feel good and are very satisfying. Makes perfect sense.
I absolutely love this post. Thank you!
I loved this post. My first impulse was to share my marriages – both to the same woman – but that would be making it All About Me.
Instead… If anyone recalls my mention of the son, DIL, and Granddotter going out and the GDotter’s boyfriend proposing and being accepted, well, there is no joy in Mudville. Gdotter’s FB page has been increasingly filled with posts about disappointment until yesterday, when came an announcement of The Disengagement.
I posted a link to this blog entry. I hope she finds it useful.
Today was my birthday. My husband had a wonderful day planned for me. Instead, he had to cancel all the arrangements he made while I spent the day at the dentist’s, then the specialist’s having a root canal. And he knows it wasn’t my fault but he still had all the work of putting the day together and then the work and disappointment of taking it apart. And he still tried to find something I might like to do (movie?, someplace where the food wouldn’t be too difficult to eat?) with a face full of novocaine and when I said no I just wanted some scrambled eggs for dinner, he was okay with that. That seems reasonable mature to me and maybe even unconditional.
Happy birthday! You need to do like the Queen, and designate a day as your Official Birthday, and celebrate then instead.
That is an excellent idea. Last year the day before my birthday, the bank cancelled our credit card. They said they had detected unauthorized activity. And they could not get us new cards, even expedited, for 3 days. My birthdays seem to be cursed.
Today, Jeff had a crown fall off of one of his teeth, too. What is it with us and teeth, anyway?
I need to share Jenny’s post with husband. He’s spent at least a quarter of a year traveling out of the country for work every year of our 32 years of marriage.
Does unconditional mean you love their soul, mind or essence? Is all the other stuff window dressing? If they do something that is a dealbreaker, did you never really love them? Are the actions more important than the feeling? This seems like a beautiful painting when viewed far away, but much more indistinct up close. I have a difficult time defining emotion, the more I analyze; the murkier they become.
I think the best comparison is the way good parents love their children. There’s nothing my kid to do that would make me stop loving her. Absolutely nothing. So that’s unconditional. Doesn’t mean there are no times I’m exasperated or hurt or angry, but I never stop loving her.
But I think the key is that you don’t get that in romantic love until you’re past infatuation, and that means there’s time to find out all the conditional things that would be deal breakers. Infatuation isn’t just the fun stuff, I think it’s also the testing period. But I also think not everybody gets to mature love, and there are marriages that perk along just fine on conditional as long as all the conditions are met. Until they’re not.
It also doesn’t mean your child gets a free pass on bad behaviour, or that your partner does either because you’ll love them anyway.
It makes me think of 1.) what my grandmother once told me and 2.) what my interpersonal communications professor once told my small group interpersonal communications class.
My grandmother said you have to fall in love with a partner twice – once with your heart and once with your head. Her point was basically that falling in love with your “heart” is all around the emotions and the excitement of it, and that falling in love with your “head” is the practicality of seeing how you make a good team, and that you can trust each other and the ways in which you are compatible and good for each other beyond the first. But that both parts of you have to be in love with them for it to really work, and one kind of love without the other isn’t going to work in the long run.
My interpersonal communications professor talked once about the difference between being “in love”with someone and being “in trust” with someone. Her point was that those are very different things, and that we can quickly feel a type of love that doesn’t inspire trust with it…and that when you’re thinking about the connection you have with someone, thinking about “trust” over “love” can be helpful in evaluating the maturity and long term viability of the relationship.
am re-reading agnes-they didn’t have many more than 5 days, did they?
i didn’t read all the posts so i apologize if someone already mentioned that
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