If you’ve been in a relationship, you’re most likely no stranger to arguments on how one doesn’t spend enough time with the other, or complaints from your friends. Regardless of how trivial and miniscule these issues may seem from a myopic viewpoint, there’s a larger underlying problem we need to address – romanticism.
An ideology once belonging only to the hearts of poets and artists, it’s now conquered the world, fueled by Ted Mosby’s never-ending search for love, problematic rom-coms, and pop culture’s inability to portray love as it is. Transforming world views on marriage and children, it now ironically poses a threat to relationships. There’s this burdening expectation to be in constant contact with our significant others, from morning texts so we can start the day with their presence, to ditching hangouts with friends to go on dates. Long phone calls in the nights so we can watch the sun rise together; love dependent on the shaky hands of Wi-Fi and service providers. Anything otherwise would lead to one party believing the other doesn’t love them enough, and then you can grab some popcorn and watch the fight unfold. This expectation only works to amplify existing insecurities and make relationships uncomfortable – time spent together should be on the basis of enjoyment and comfort, not to meet a demand that detrimental to the mental health of the two. By encouraging codependency, you encounter the pitfalls of romanticism.
But it’s more than just that – we are now expected to completely accept the other person, to worship the flaws, to see heaven in their eyes when they’re at their worst. We are to don our rose-tinted glasses and overlook the red flags. The idea that two people aren’t going to meet all of the other’s demands, or that change and adjustment will be required is shunned by romanticists. “You need to change” is now a last ditch effort, not something that should be addressed in the relationship early on. So we have a generation of people trying to find love in each other, believing that in each other they’ll find their world, the same shared core beliefs on intimacy and love. It’s impractical to pretend that one person will understand you fully, without words even being said, but with romanticism in the picture, that is exactly what masses of people now believe; that through intuition and love, we’ve now harnessed the ability to look into the eyes of our dear ones and understand their woes completely. With romanticism, we are expected to not know loneliness, our lover now the solution to problems we are supposed to deal with ourselves. As a result, we have a deeply troubled generation struggling with relationships, unable to understand where they went wrong.
When questioning romanticism, it is not to destroy or mock love; it is to save it from itself. Maybe one day in the cinema halls or under your sheets, watching Netflix, you’ll run into a rom-com where a romanticist new to the idea of love falls for a skeptic, one who understands all that’s written above.