Romantic Love Achieved
Most of us fall for the illusion that one great love exists for us all, and will eventually fall from the skies at some point. We convince ourselves that normal physical attraction, coupled by a spark of mutual interest, signifies its arrival—and are disappointed, even devastated, when it fails. This can happen early on in a relationship, or even after years of marriage. It is easy to become disillusioned by the concept of romantic love, which was intended to be inspirational rather than guaranteed at birth.
Here is the secret that most people fail to realize. The height of romantic love, with all its intensity and permanence, is real, but it is neither inevitable nor easily attained. Certain personal qualities are required to make it possible.
Romantic love depends on the same principles, all of them, that are listed in our code. (See the 12 Trusts.) These principles make us capable of the kind of commitment such love requires.
Think about it for a moment. How can a genuinely romantic love exist for people who are not truthful, just, loyal, generous, polite, respectful, and forgiving? It we enter a relationship with the greedy selfishness we often see in people, we provide no basis for such love to grow and thrive.
What society often refers to as love is actually a selfish attachment. Romantic love contradicts that. It gives more love than it expects to receive—which is, in itself, a wonderfully transformative experience. Love is its own reward. The more you give, the stronger it becomes. And while its passion fades after a while, as familiarity and age set in, this is more than compensated by the sustenance of love itself.
Let me repeat that idea. Romantic love does not end with familiarity and a decline in passion. It changes into something more real and better. That is what our stories fail to mention. The fires of romantic love are merely an introduction. They make for good movie plots, and so we see them all the time. But what follows, if sufficiently nurtured by commitment and attention, is its real culmination.
To achieve that kind of permanent love requires the development of what we call heroic qualities, as listed in the 12 Trusts. We must be serious in our personal cultivation. We must be sensitive enough to appreciate the deeper meanings of life. We must see and accept our loved one for whom she or he is—imperfections and all. We must see the child, the teenager, the adult and whatever future decline will happen, all in one package. They are all there in essence, just as they are in all of us.
Such commitment, if we bother to make it, is not separate from who we are, but rather an essential part of who we can be. It is part of our self-definition. Our lives become our stories, our personal legends. They need to be authentic. Heroic—especially in the little things.
While most people settle for less, and may achieve some satisfaction, there is no reason that we must. Today’s Knight aims for a more idealized sense of virtue, and that includes a more idealized sense of love as well.