I will be the first to admit that I was completely invested in the fairy tale image of love. As a little girl, I dreamed of finding my Prince Charming, a man who would scoop me off my feet and carry me off into the sunset to live happily ever after. Lately though, I've pretty much rejected this image as unrealistic and question whether it's even an ideal I'd like to pursue.
I wouldn't say that I've become cynical but I have to wonder whether we're all completely missing the mark. In our society, the “highest” level on the romantic relationship hierarchy seems to be sex and marriage. However, many individuals who have made it to the “top” and experienced what it is that we're supposed to be striving for, don't seem to be any happier or more fulfilled than the rest of us. In fact, marriage and sex have become so diluted of meaning that people are opting not to go that route and those who do, are jumping ship in ridiculous numbers. Just look at the divorce rates.
It makes me wonder, if it hasn't “worked” for so many others, why would I be so arrogant to think that I would be any better at it; that my relationship would somehow possess a quality that would allow it to thrive where others have failed? And why are so many others failing, anyway? Is there something wrong with us as a whole? Or, is the whole way we've defined romantic relationships inherently flawed? Do the requirements of exclusivity contradict the free and open expression of love in its purest form?
In other words, is love limited only by the confines of our mortal minds?
My friend and I had this conversation last night and in nerd like fashion, we explored the socially constructed nature of relationships. The idea that one man and one woman commit to each other in the name of love is time and space specific. This is not a universal truth that is accepted and endorsed by everyone in the world. There are and always have been alternative conceptualizations of what romantic relationships can and should be (ie. gay couples, polygamous communities, arranged marriages etc).
I just can't help wondering if there's something more. My friend called me New Age-y but I truly believe there are untapped spiritual dimensions to be explored in the context of our relationships with other people. It gives me some hope. Instead of thinking that there is a glass ceiling that all couples eventually hit, I like to believe that we've only scratched the surface of possibilities.