I quickly skimmed through inspirational words about renewing yourself during mid-life, and a profile of a doctor working to help war veterans through acupuncture, before coming across something a bit more relevant: an essay that encouraged readers to think about romantic love not as a state of being, but instead as an emotion. Try thinking of love as a feeling, like anger, sadness, or happiness, the author wrote, instead of a constant, something that's always there. Imagine love as a feeling, as a moment of pleasure, something that comes and goes rather than something that's with you all the time.
Why embrace such a definition of love? If you regard love as a feeling rather than a state of being, the author suggested, then your goal becomes not to find someone to love, or someone who loves you, but instead to create more moments during your day, during your life, where you have the opportunity to feel the emotion of love. Recall moments when you've felt love, and think about what you did that allowed you to experience that feeling. And then think about what you can do in the future to bring about other, similar moments, moments that foster the emotion of love. And then act to create the circumstances most likely to welcome and nurture that feeling.
Touchy-feely, yeah. But food for thought, nonetheless. Such a conception of romantic love struck me as quite at odds with the way love is presented in much romance fiction: "You're my other half"; "I'll love you forever"; "I'll never feel this way about anyone but you." In Romancelandia, you find the person you love, and who loves you back, and you've reached your goal; the story ends. The difference between this self-help article's view of love and the one more commonly embraced by the romance genre made me wonder: why is romance fiction so invested in this one narrative of love? What do we gain by focusing so tightly on it? What do we lose by not considering other definitions of love?
What other conceptions of romantic love are out there in the world? Some links to kickstart thinking:
The 5 Ways We Define Love (And Why They're Wrong)
What is Love? Famous Definitions from 400 Years of Literary History
7 Other Definitions of Real Love Worth Considering
What would a romance novel look like that embraced a different definition of love? Would we even consider it a romance novel anymore?
|My two kitty choristers. Because you can never have enough|
cute cat pictures on the web...