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Is romantic love an overrated and exaggerated feeling?

Do you think love (of the romantic kind) is overrated?

People talk about romantic love as if it’s a necessity, a need, a requirement to be considered “normal” in the society. But is love just as amazing as we hype it to be? The pop-culture or rather, our society has created this notion in our mind that romantic love is THE thing that makes us tick, that it’s the most miraculous and amazing thing that could happen to the average denizens of this blue dot. Well, I disagree. Romantic love in all its extravagance is one of the most overrated aspects of life.

Sure, we all tear up watching romantic movies. But in real life, romance doesn't seem to matter that much. In fact, it's the small, non-romantic acts of kindness and compassion that make us feel most loved. This is the case for most Americans, at least.

In today’s world where everyone is running short of patience and looking for quick fixes in life, who really has patience to actually fall in love? The time has long gone when it was said that- Love conquers all. Love is one of the strongest feelings among all but somehow we have completely ruined the magic of romantic love or maybe it never existed. It was always overrated.

Love would never be limited to one person and it should not be. Love is such a beautiful feeling, someone who understands you and appreciates you for who you are, motivates you to do something even when you are not confident about it, love is an extended version of yourself and would never be able to fit into one person.

Americans also seem to be quite unanimous when it comes to what doesn't make them feel loved. "In American culture, "it seems that controlling or possessive behaviours are the ones people do not associate with love."

In China, for instance, if a mother "punishes" a child's behavior — by not letting them play with other kids or fun toys, for example — people tend to see that as warm and affectionate, whereas in the Western world, the same attitude is seen as harsh, punitive, or unloving.

But although we may seem to have reached a consensus as a culture, individual differences still matter.

"It may not be wise to go into a relationship assuming that both of you know the same things about feeling loved and that all of the same things will make you feel loved,"

It’s important to communicate these things to each other, which can assist in being more in tune with each other and feeling loved in a relationship."

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A constructive and growthful practice for all people in a relationship and all people wanting to be in a relationship is to ask yourself, “Why do I want to be in a relationship?” What is the compelling why that drives you either to stay in relationship or desire to be in one? Sit down by yourself and begin to write. Let your responses go deeper and deeper into the very heart of your soul. When you find the why in the very core of your being, this will give you the strength to either begin or sustain a beautiful relationship. Too many people in relationship get comfortable and into a routine. They forget to ask themselves, “Why am I here?” Losing touch with their compelling why, they stop expanding the relationship and deepening the love. For those desiring a relationship, being in touch with this significant why gives them an inner strength and power to draw a partner to themselves.

Nineteen years ago, Barry and I were having a difficult time in our marriage. We were having increasing trouble being in harmony. We were both becoming discouraged and beginning to feel that it might be easier and better for both of us if we just separated. Our first child, Rami, was two years old at the time and we were feeling that it would also be better for her if we lived separately. We came very close to ending our relationship, yet we had never asked ourselves from the deepest place of our being, “Why am I in this relationship?” So we both began to ask in prayer and meditation. In a beautiful moment our intuitive wisdom came to both of us. We are in the relationship as part of our service. Learning to deeply love one another and be in harmony is our service to the world. Previously, we had had a vision of someday writing and doing workshops together. We saw that the current inharmony and difficulty in relating was all in preparation for our service. Once we found this important why that resonated in both of our hearts, we felt the power to bring our relationship into a place of harmony and love.

We have not sunk to such a low place in our relationship again. When we begin to even sink a little bit, we both go to the place of “Why are we here together?” and the answer allows us to go even deeper into our love and understanding of one another. Learning to love, honor and respect each other completely is a gift we are giving to the world. This is our service and the compelling Why that keeps us together.

Honesty in a relationship is a sacred responsibility for both partners. Honesty can be the fertile soil upon which a relationship can grow and flourish. Dishonesty is like a weed, subtle and small at first, which when left unchecked can choke the life out of the relationship.

Thirty years ago, after we’d only been married a few years, Barry had an affair with one of my friends. Soon after getting home he sat down and told me the truth. I was furious! I screamed and cried and was painfully hurt. I took our dog, walked out and left him for good. The weeks to come were agonizing and yet also very growthful for us both. What gave me the strength to return to the relationship a week later was the knowledge that Barry had been honest with me about the affair from the beginning. He was now saying that he learned and grew from the experience and did not need to ever have another affair. We had always been very honest with each other and so I had the courage to believe him. Had honesty not been such a strong foundation in our relationship I doubt we would have been able to reconnect and heal so quickly.

In our counseling practice we strongly recommend honesty. For couples who have not been totally honest with each other (ie most couples), we encourage them toward a deeper practice of honesty. A couple who had been together for thirty years came to us complaining of a deadness in their relationship. Their children were all grown and moved away and the couple were faced with each other and the distance that had grown between them. We had the couple begin to share all the secrets they had kept from one another. Some of the things shared were painful, others were met with relief. At the end of that session we asked the couple to build a new garden for their relationship, using the fertile soil of honesty as the main ingredient. Several years later we heard that they had created a very loving and nourishing life together.

Honesty also involves the willingness to openly share feelings, hopes and dreams. Honesty requires that we share our hurts and pain as well as our joy and fulfillment. With honesty a relationship can blossom. Without it a relationship is likely to choke and wither.

Timing is also a valuable consideration. As we wrote in our first book, The Shared Heart, “If it’s something important that must be said, consider first asking inwardly from your heart for help.” This inner pause and reflection gives you a better chance to be sensitive and even compassionate.

Ask yourself if there is important information you are keeping from your partner. Honesty can bring a deep healing between the two of you. Be committed to honesty and your relationship will grow in understanding, trust and love.

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