Romantic love has consumed Western culture. Modern partner-seeking men and women call up the Hotel Cosmos room service, wanting to be served the perfect life partner who will comply with their demands and fulfill all their dreams and expectations. But unbeknownst to them, this dish is not on the menu. At least, for the time being😉.
So what is on the relationship menu?
All sorts of heavily dressed appetizers, entrees and desserts that will only give rise to disappointment, ennui, resentment and a misplaced sense of entitlement. Except for one dish.
Room service at your door! Feast your eyes on a relationship based on unconditional love and acceptance of one another. Remember that word “unconditional”? “Bon Appetit,” not to being in love with your long-time projected ideal, but to a warm-enough, comforting, congealed mass of stability and commitment. Please enjoy the Chef’s special, Mature Love.
In his book, We: Understanding the Psychology of Romantic Love, author Robert A. Johnson proposes what love realistically should taste like. “Stirring the oatmeal is a humble act-not exciting or thrilling. But it symbolizes a relatedness that brings love down to earth. It represents a willingness to share ordinary human life, to find meaning in the simple, unromantic tasks: earning a living, living within a budget, putting out the garbage, feeding the baby in the middle of the night. To “stir the oatmeal” means to find the relatedness, the value, even the beauty, in simple and ordinary things, not to eternally demand a cosmic drama, an entertainment, or an extraordinary intensity in everything.”
He then goes on to say, “In romantic love there is no friendship. Romance and friendship are utterly opposed energies, natural enemies with completely opposing motives. Sometimes people say: ‘I don’t want to be friends with my husband [or wife]; it would take all the romance out of our marriage.’ It is true: Friendship does take the artificial drama and intensity out of a relationship, but it also takes away the egocentricity and the impossibility and replaces the drama with something human and real.”
Hold up, don’t leave yet.
I beg to differ with his point. Mature love can be sexy. Since it is practical, realistic, and free of expectational burdens, mature love is given the right space to transform and flourish organically on its own. With patient acceptance as its principal ingredient—and evolution at the heart of its nature—it can potentially begin to simmer and bubble into surprise and excitement over time. Simply by the magic of passing time, its oat flakes absorb, fill and expand with the sweetness of honey. This “oatmeal kind of love” doesn’t happen overnight. In other words, these aren’t your typical “overnight oats.” Deep down, you know this is the transformative connection that will give your life meaning and completeness. And that, my Fellow Idealists, is sexy.
Before initially placing a tall order of demands on a potential life partner, perhaps best you dine in alone, committing and taking full responsibility for becoming a complete person (yes I know, that in itself is a tall and perhaps life-long order). However, an attempt is the first step to the recipe. And only then can a love story suddenly morph into thick, viscous, substantial joy and fulfillment.
While you wait, in or out of a relationship, begin to whet your appetite for imperfection, discomfort and conflict. For dry, flaky mundanity. That is the secret sauce, and once you find your humble “stirring the oatmeal” kind of love, you’ll discover that was just what you were craving.
So there you have it, no pessimism, just practical work here.
And don’t forget to call for turn-down service.