I understand the initial hesitation of many people when they read the word romance. First, it could be something so cheesy that there is no more to learn from it. Second, it is something that reminds their past experiences that perhaps brought them disillusionment. Third, there is always an assumption that everyone knows about romance, since we often read and watch it. Reasons like these are valid in many ways, because romance is being defined in the context of our common notions. This is why I have attempted to articulate what is beyond romance.
To see what is beyond romance, the first thing to do is to see behind the myth of romance equals Love. There are 2 kinds of this myth: the myth of fairy tales and the myth of tragedy. These myths are actually 2 extremes that are commonly associated with Love. They are so pervasive that we often operate on this mentality not just in our relationships but in all aspect of our lives.
The myth of fairy tale has two forms: The first one is the common ending of all fairy tales: happily ever after. This myth tells us that Love is only fulfilled by an ideal prince charming who would rescue us from our loneliness, or by a damsel whom we can save from distress . If our ideal partner arrives, then we would have the romantic ending. Thinking that Love is a perfect ending leads us to the second form: the ideal of perfection. If only we had a perfect partner, a perfect relationship, a perfect situation, we could have a perfect life and a perfect Love.
The myths are not wrong, but they appear as stubborn illusions that keep us from understanding and experiencing Love.
The danger on the myth of fairy tale is to romanticized Love into having a picture-perfect romantic relationship. Perfection in this terms often means that partners are match-made-in-heaven, or that they won’t have any problems as long as their ideals of perfection are not compromised.
The myth of tragedy has also 2 forms. We can found this as a common theme in many novels, movies, and songs: Romeo and Juliet. In this myth, we think that Love is all about drama, enchantment, jealousy, complications and being against all odds. It incurs a lot of suffering that numbs many lovers into believing that this is the best Love can offer. When these ideals are not achieved, the myth of Romeo and Juliet normally becomes an ideal of longing and suffering, an ingrained belief that Love is often unrequited or unfulfilled. There is always a delicious feeling in longing for another, as well as devoting oneself for the other at the expense of personal happiness.
Again, the danger of this myth, similar to fairy tale, is to think that Love is about painful encounters and feelings of void, believing that it can only be achieved by the other. This myth is so ironic that most of us tend to reject romance because of this notion of suffering and pain, but what we cannot admit is we dyingly crave for romantic experience.
These myths of romance equals Love are so common because we cannot discern between our inner (Love) and outer (romance) experiences. The myths are not wrong, but they appear as stubborn illusions that keep us from understanding and experiencing Love. In the next article, we will define the facts that will help us understand these myths.
Beyond Romance on June 11 (lecture) and 18 (workshop) 2011. For more info, visit this Facebook page