Why does romance interfere with your ability to experience intimacy?
Here’s the deal in three points:
- What romance offers feels so much like intimacy
- What romance offers actually numbs your senses to your need for intimacy
- What romance offers is so much easier to obtain than intimacy
It’s a dangerous cocktail, but we drink it by the gallon in our contemporary culture.
First, what does romance offer that feels so much like intimacy?
Infatuation (what psychologists call limerence) makes you feel like you’re walking on clouds… of cotton candy. At the same time, you feel dialed in on a level so deep, it’s as if you’re drowning in a sea of kittens… and bunnies. (All declawed.)
To summarize: infatuation makes you feel really, really good. And who doesn’t want to feel really, really good?
The key word in describing “infatuation” is “FEEL.” Infatuation is all about feeling. And despite what the media may want us to think, all of that feeling isn’t made of Disney magic. It’s made of endorphins, neurotransmitters and hormones. However…
Intimacy isn’t about feeling. It’s about knowing.
As much as you may enjoy feeling like you’re walking on cotton candy or swimming with kitties, you want to know and be known by the people most important to you. No one hopes to spend their final days on this planet surrounded by all their past lovers. You hope to be surrounded by family and friends who knew you well and loved you anyway.
Knowing is real. Either you know the answer or you don’t. Either you know your Dad or you don’t. Either you know your friends or you don’t. To be sure, there’s no end to knowing someone. You’re always learning more about the ones you love, but there is a solidity to knowledge.
On the other hand, feelings may or may not be real. You’ve probably felt like you aced a test only to face the shock of a “C” (or worse). Or maybe you’re one of those who feels like you bomb every quiz only to be surprised time after time by another 100%. (And if so I hate you. Not really, but, seriously. I do.)
This leads me to my second point: What romance offers actually numbs your senses to your need for intimacy. I can address this by referencing one of the cutest things people in love like to say: “I only just met them last week, but I feel like I’ve known them my whole life.”
When you hear someone say something like this you know that infatuation (the hoped-for goal of romance) has completely numbed yet another soul to the need for intimacy. Infatuation strikes again.
Why do you need to get to know someone you already feel like you know?!? Hello! Waste of time!
When infatuated lovers believe they already do know one another it removes the drive to actually grow in intimacy.
What our love birds actually “love” is a projection. They love who they perceive their beloved to be. And that’s all they “need.”
Well it’s not all they need, but it may be all they have.
And hence we arrive at my third point: What romance offers is so much easier to obtain than intimacy.
Growing in intimacy takes time. Falling in love can happen in one romantic date. One and done.
Intimacy must be cultivated like a garden. Romance can strike like lightning (>Kablammo!<). Intimacy happens in relationship as you experience life’s inevitable ups and downs together. Romance can happen in one experience that births a “relationship” that’s all up, up, up and away. (Until the crash landing.)
Infatuation, the prize of romance:
- Feels so much like intimacy
- Numbs our need for intimacy
- Attained so much easier than intimacy
Perhaps that’s why the only book of the Bible dedicated to romantic love says not once, not twice, but three times:
Do not stir up or awaken love until the appropriate time.
– Song of Solomon 2:7, 3:5, 8:4 (HCSB)
We would do well to heed such a warning.
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