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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A Dumb, Durable And Dangerous Delusion*

Ever since medieval times, we have been enamored with the following tenets of the "romantic love myth":

1) Love is a total mystery, something strongly felt but impossible to describe or explain.

2) Love has a kind of power that comes (or goes) without any effort, warning or reason.

3) Love radically transforms everything under its spell, having us see our beloved as the fulfillment of our every dream.

4) Love is overwhelming and all-consuming. When we are truly in love we cannot eat, sleep, or do anything without our beloved being foremost in our minds.

5) Finding this kind of romantic love is life's ultimate good, and is worth giving up of our dreams, our career, or even our current partner to gain.

6) Once love really strikes, we know for sure, with never a doubt, that we’ve found the one right person meant just for us.

7) Love is its own authoritative and final reality. Once we’ve found it/him/her, no one can tell us anything different. We just “know that we know that we know,” never mind what our friends, our parents or anyone else might say to the contrary.

Psychologist Frank Pittman, author of the book “Private Lies,” calls this kind of obsession  a “temporary form of insanity.” While most of us agree in principle, all or parts of the myth still remain alive and well in our culture.

* Pardon the title for violating the journalist rule "Always avoid any and all alliterations".
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