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When Did Love Rise to the Level of an Insanity Defense?
Love is a lot of things -- many-splendored, never having to say your sorry, a rose -- and it hurts and it stinks and it reigns o'er me.
Being such a sweeping topic, my point today concerns only a narrow slice -- love on daytime TV. Not the glamorous life of the TV soap, but the grim reality of trash talk shows. It's a staple of Springer-style TV, the question hanging over the betrayed, the beaten, the pregnant, the miserable; a person hanging on despite it all.
Why do you stay with him?
"Because I love him."
Love has never made a very good reason. And it's worth even less as an excuse.
People have this viral view of love, that you get caught by some bug, that all reason and logic goes out the window and that's okay because it's Love with a capital L.
This leads to Hollywood movies where madcap lovers do things that in real life would get them slapped with restraining orders, and we all know how some people try to live their lives in some imagined cinematic style. Life imitates art, you know.
Part of the entire idea of love is the rush, the sweepng chemical high, and its been scientifically proven, believe it or not. And let's face it; someone incapable of love, someone unwilling to take the chance of a flight of fancy, is one dour puss. Life is all about knowing the difference between thinking and feeling.
Love has gotten plenty of attention from psychologists as well as writers, singers, poets and artists. There's the triangular theory of love (passion, intimacy, commitment) and then there's the biggie -- the difference between passionate and compassionate love.
The most common problem in developing long-term relationships is the transition between passionate and compassionate love. Bill Maher has a great politically incorrect theory about it -- people have children when the sex gets boring because it gives them something else to do with their energy. The most common timeline for this milestone, according to both experts and my bummed out buddies in bars, is about six months.
With a little bit of self-awareness, you can learn from your past mistakes and the mistakes of others. You can learn about the passionate / compassionate transition. You can learn that rebound relationships don't work. You can learn that if you enter a relationship because you're needy, that the relationship will wind up in transition because once the needs are met you're a different person and the relationship is on a different footing.
To many people, the idea of tempering the early phases of love sounds like a violation of the First Law of Love -- that of being totally swept away. It's like if you're not stupid with it, you're not in love.
There are of course, people in love with that feeling of being in love, and you can figure out what kind of trouble they land in and what kind of bill they run up with divorce lawyers. And there are the people who cling to their love on these dreadful TV shows because their own lack of self-respect gives them no choice. Love starts as the reason, winds up the excuse. A kind of universally accepted insanity defense.
I don't want the co-dependant and the wacky to spoil love's good name. I want love to add to my life, not wreck it, because in the end, if it doesn't grow and blossom, if it fades or blows up, you can't blame love. You can only blame yourself.
About the Author:
G.L. Marshall specializes in a cynically silly form of romance. You can find him at http://www.glmarshall.com
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