Dependence on romantic love

Romantic love, with its idealization of the love object, is an expression of neurosis, a maladaptive effort to solve a dependency problem, or an adolescent fixation. As such it is a foolish if not dangerous illusion that creates impossible expectations in people. It makes them unable to accept the positive benefits of a relationship. From a feminist perspective, romantic love may be characterized as a rationalization for female subordination and dependency, namely as a glamorous trap that disguises the prison to which women are condemned by marriage.

Romantic love may also be considered as a confusing mix of two important forms of love. The first is a natural urge toward an inner world, associated with spiritual aspiration. The second is a love for people in the flesh. It is through the inappropriate projection of the ideals associated with the first onto a specific person, that people are entrapped in dependency. This projection prevents any meaningful relationship with the person-in-the-flesh who can only occasionally live up to the ideal. The resulting disappointments undermine what might otherwise develop into a fruitful relationship. The great flaw in romantic love is that it seeks one relationship but forgets the other.

Romantic love serves an important function not only for the individual but for the culture. It provides a narrative thread in lives, determining obligations and transforming them. Even if romantic love is often short-lived, it is mistaken to consider that its transience disqualifies it from significance. It is the experience itself, and the difference it makes to life, that makes it valuable. The rationalist perspective on love is emotionally shallow or inhibited, fearful of passion and constrained by caution. The mature love advocated by therapists renders love stale and antiseptic, denigrating the experience of falling in love, in order to stress mutual respect, shared values and common interests above emotional pleasure and sexual passion. Romantic love offers not just the excitement of the moment but the possibility for dramatic change in the self. As such it is in itself an agent of change. Love also offers an antidote both to personal neediness and to those existential anxieties that increase the sense of the frailty and brevity of life.
(F) Fuzzy exceptional problems