Romance and Pathology

I recently had an impromptu conversation with Franklin about romantic relationships. We explored this premise: “In romance, we want to be treated with the status of some ideal (almost the status of God.)” This idea is pathological not only because we are clearly not God, but also because it expects an unfair, undying perfection in love from one’s partner. Let’s dig.

When we observe romantic relationships objectively, we notice that most relationships involve one or both parties treating the other person in the way that they (the giver of the love) want to be treated but not how the object of the love wants to be loved. Tolstoy expressed this brilliantly in Anna Karenina. Anna Karenina and Vronsky repeatedly quarreled, violently in many cases, about the amount and expression of Vronsky’s love. Anna’s main complaint was that Vronsky’s love was not enough and was also not increasing as a result of their being together (even though he almost killed himself on her behalf). Vronsky, on the other hand, all but said that Anna did not want to move on from her past life (even though she left her family for him). Through this we see the pathological element of the premise.

We want to treat and be treated with the status of some ideal, but in a very real way, we don’t know what it means to love God (or an ideal) or even how to love God. Fundamentally, romantic relationships are relationships between two human beings, and human beings are, by their very nature, selfish, lazy, manipulative, crazy, piggish, embodied, and other ideas in this domain. Christianity, in my estimation, has solved this problem. The relationship is in subordination to Christ. To quote Franklin, “The purpose of a Christian [romantic] relationship is to pursue the light, the Logos, God in an attempt (partially) to overcome these things.” The romantic relationship itself is not the ideal, even though we like to think it is.

Certainty Rating: 52%


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