Romance or Reality?
By Linda Sapadin, Ph.D
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Romance is addicting. It's like pixie dust; a magical golden glittery powder that grants you wondrous sensations! It makes you feel so special to be courted, to be cherished, to be unconditionally loved. What’s not to like about romance? Another soul is enamored by you, not because of what you do or what you have, but simply because of your soul, your spirit, your smile. What could be better?
Romance novels never have to worry about obtaining an audience. Many women (and a few men) just naturally flock to them.
As enticing as romance is, however, there are dynamic dangers inherent in quick, exciting, untamed romance. I hate to be a downer but I want to warn you. One who wants you so totally, so impulsively, so impatiently is also one who may be threatening to your freedom and well-being. Here’s how:
Sure it’s flattering to be a femme fatale. You are the answer to someone’s dream. How seductive! It’s hard to turn down a love who claims, “I’ve never met anyone like you. You’re so unique, caring, beautiful, sexy, loving….” He wants you! You’re irresistible! He’s gotta have you now!
Such intense interest may feel flattering at first, but before long you’ll likely experience it as pressure: pressure for being there at his beck and call, pressure for sex, pressure for satisfying his needs. Though the impulsive part of your brain may be saying, “This is it! I’ve finally met the perfect guy,” the wise part of your brain may recall that, “He doesn’t even know me; how can he be so in love with me? How can I commit to him; I barely know him either!”
It’s flattering to have your romantic love drop in on you unexpectedly. Or call or text you many times a day. It may feel like every day is Valentine’s Day! What a joy to find someone who thinks the world of you. Who always wants to be with you. How complimentary he is.
Soon, however, you may experience the flip side of the coin—his controlling nature, his jealousy, his unrealistic expectations. How will you feel when he wants to know where you are at all times? When he keeps badgering you about whom you’ve been talking to? When he tries to cut you off from family and friends? When he accuses your loved ones of creating problems?
Sudden Mood Swings
It starts off great. Of course it does, otherwise you’d have nothing to do with him. He’s sweet, loving and considerate in a way no other man has been. Your heart melts. Your soul softens. Your mind is at ease. All is right with the world. You forgive him for anything he has done or said that doesn’t seem right.
Then one day he becomes like a Jekyll and Hyde. He’s switched from a loving guy to a brooding, cold, angry man in a matter of minutes. You wonder what’s wrong. Without explaining anything, he makes you feel responsible for his mood. “You make me angry; you want too much; you don’t satisfy me; just leave me alone.” You’re no longer the perfect woman he imagined you to be and now you get to pay the price!
Now, I truly hope I haven’t turned anybody off to the joys of romance. I just want you to be aware of the dangers of instant, intense amours. It's true that some ardent romances blossom into extraordinary long-term relationships. Most of them, however, remain cherished short-term romantic encounters. Or, turn into troubled, abusive relationships as unrealistic expectations escalate.
So, please do distinguish between:
- Men in romance novels who know exactly what to say and do, add spice to your life, rescue you, comfort you, guide you and...
- Real life relationships with men who may make some romantic gestures but will not do that all the time. Why? Because they are real life men!
Romance novels provide a bit of escapism. They are entertainment; they are comfort food. So enjoy them. But don't allow them to create chaos in your real life relationship simply because you're not being swept off your feet or showered with rose petals.
Oh, just one more thing. This article pertains to both sexes. The impulsive, controlling, jealous, blaming, mood swinging romantic can be either male or female.
Linda Sapadin is a psychologist and personal coach in private practice who specializes in helping people enrich their lives, enhance their relationships and overcome self-defeating patterns of behavior. For more information about her work, contact her by email or visit her website at PsychWisdom.