Sentimental Love: Why romantic love does not last…and what does
My experiements in falling and rising in love
Who can forget the feeling when we first fall in love.
We feel special. We feel the other person is special. We felt our future together is special. When we think of that special someone our face lights up. We feel cared, understood and wanted. A warmth envelops our heart and our body feels lighter. We feel intoxicated.
Then begins the drama of sentimental love. We expect the other person to make us the centre of the Universe. We expect the other person to value what is important for us. We expect the other person to understand our feelings. We expect the other person to do what we feel is the right thing to do. The list of our expectations are endless.
And when the other person does not comply, we control. We control with judgments, emotions, finances and sometimes violence. Over a period of time a pattern of relating is set based on dependency, power, expectation and control. And we do all of this in the name of love.
Whenever I have fallen in sentimental love, I have noticed that a new entity begins to overtake my personality. It projects all kinds of ideas on the other person and our imagined future together. Not a single time have any of these projections come true. Like childish fantasies they shatter against the hard rocks of reality.
Yet there is something tenacious about sentimental love. No matter how many times we are hurt, disappointed, cheated or betrayed by our own expectations, we never give up. We continue to hope that our special someone will meet us someday. And when we again find someone who reciprocates our attraction, we feel this time it is the real thing. Often this cycle goes on. “Bavara mann dekhne chala ek sapna…” goes a Hindi song. “This foolish heart has once again started fantasizing…”
Does this mean that human love is flawed?
Any love that has its opposite, is not love but a passing emotion. If our love is based on certain circumstances it is ‘conditioned sentimentalism’. Which is not to say that it is bad. But it is good to recognise it for what it is. The closest human beings come to unconditional love is the love of a mother towards her child. But even that can take the shape of blind attachment or emotional manipulation in the years to come.
I think sentimental love is more sustainable, when there is a common purpose. If the reason of our emotional high is solely each other, it wont take long for those emotions to turn sour, sometimes bitter. If the goal of that love has a larger common purpose — build a family, bring up children or set up an entrepreneurial venture together — there is greater possibility of such a relationship flourishing.
Another thing that can transform sentimental love into sustainable love is setting up norms and rituals in a relationship. Allocating one day in the week for spending time together, communicating authentic feelings as a fortnightly ritual, taking time to understand what the other person values. Even though these are building blocks of a healthy relationship, they do not guarantee anything. Sometimes relationships flourish effortlessly. Sometimes they crumble in spite of all effort.
Also there is the element of time. At times two individuals grow differently over a period of time. What attracted them to each other no longer exists. The roots that held the relationship are no longer effective, and the love that was once there, sheds like dry leaves in autumn.
Essentially sentimental love is ephemeral, unpredictable and transient. Because it is based on an emotion. And no emotion can last forever. Furthermore every emotion has its opposite. If there is love today, it can easily transform into hate tomorrow. Which is not uncommon. Attachment and expectations are the breeding ground for anger. What began as warm feeling inside, can end in homicide or suicide.
True love is a state of Being. It is not personal and conditional. As our consciousness evolves, we find fulfilment not by our ego enhancement of each other, but by accessing a dimension that is ego free. Like the blue sky it reveals to us our true nature, that can embrace every entity in its infinite loving gaze.