Romance is Overrated – Get Over It and Move Beyond It!

Almost daily I encounter those entangled in a kind of extramarital affair I describe as “I Fell Out of Love…and just love being in love.”

The cheating or “offending” spouse has encountered someone where there are “sparks!”

Here are common phrases: (to the spouse) “I love you but am not ‘in love’ with you. The romance in our marriage is gone. I found someone who really loves me.” (self thoughts) “I don’t want to settle. I have a lot of love to give. He/she treats me like no one else. I feel special with the other person.”

The “offended spouse” often responds with increased or new romantic gestures. They fall flat.

At the core of this kind of affair is a deeply engrained belief that “romance” is the savior and benchmark of a great marriage or intimate relationship.

Here are some reflections on romance:

1. “Romance” is subtly touted in our culture (USA) as the ultimate experience in an intimate relationship.?Romance is idealized in movies and books as the ecstasy of being “in love.” We can’t get enough (hugely profitable grocery counter tabloids) of which “stars” are currently “in love” with whom. And, it often does not matter (really) if the are married. Oh gosh, to be like that, to experience that. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

2. Romantic movies are often called “romantic comedies.” Ever wonder why they are so funny or why they should be? Or, at the other end, romantic movies are tragedies (Romeo and Juliet). How about the smaltzie “Bridges of Madison County” where the woman and man (Clint Eastwood) never get at the huge “emptiness” in their lives? Ever see a “real” romantic movie?

3. The search for romance whether through an affair or within our marriage often belies powerful personal needs. It has little to do with love and more to do with getting our personal needs met. Most of us have strong needs such as?to be acknowledged, adored, cared for or perhaps cherished. Another powerful need is to feel “special.” This is often the pattern for a man overindulged by his mother (forgive me for bringing in Freud) or a woman who was the “apple of her father’s eye,” yet was emotionally deprived in that relationship.

Romance becomes the vehicle through which these needs are supposedly met without needing to name those needs or talk about them. (Gosh, he/she knows what I want before I do – he/she can read my mind. He/she/we are special!)

Don’t get me wrong. Personal needs are ok. We all have them. Personal needs drive, often powerfully, what we go after. But, and this is a huge but, if we do not consciously name them and get them met once and for all (and that can be done!) they continue to drive us and we live perpetually in frustration, always wanting more.

Once we move beyond the merry-go-round of personal need meeting we discover our personal passion, our purpose and reach down and touch the essence of real joy and peace.

4. Romance is for mating. Sex (sexual union) is often the bottom line. The “chemistry” described in “romantic love” we are finding, is truly that – raw chemistry. Studies now show (just read this last week) that those “in love” have a high concentration of specific dorphins (chemicals) in their bodies. These are the chemicals found when animals are in “heat.”

I also believe that we run into 2-3 people in our life-time?where we experience this “chemistry.” I have no idea why this happens. There appears to be some attraction, based on a huge number of factors that stir our juices – literally. Interesting. But, doesn’t mean that I must jump into bed with this person. Maybe some animals do, however.

5. A person seeking romance is?often someone?looking for a high. They want? to feel good. They expect they should feel good. They believe they should jump on something that feels good. They want the pill, the drug, the retreat, the experience that will take away their pain, their emptiness, their loneliness and make them feel good. Of course, it is only temporary. The nagging pain continually emerges and their eternal search for quelling the storm within seeks a new substance.

So, should I forget the cards, the notes, the special events I plan secretly for him/her, the I love yous and be cold, frigid and distant?

Of course not. Please understand the temporary place of “romance” and the fact that your relationship longs for moments, days, weeks and years in which you declare your self more and more fully and welcome (sometimes with trepidation) the declarations of the other and together explore the depths of acceptance and heightened awareness (love) that moves beyond romance and knows no end.


  1. The nature of love is quite elusive. It is at the same time a feeling and a rational decision. One may love a food, a person, his job etc. But the kind of love necessary for a long lasting marriage requires discipline and effort. It understands the volatile nature of our feelings and requires doing things, even when you do not feel exactly happy doing them. It requires compromise.
    It is easy to feel out of love after sometime dealing with the tough reality of a marriage. Raising children, paying bills, dealing with your spouse’s bad temper, bad manners or different points of view is always stressing. Let alone, routine tends to destroy intimacy.
    I understand that being in love with someone is an intense feeling: I myself have experienced “love?? at first sight once. But it doesn’t last forever. If you avoid contact with the other person, it passes quite quickly. But even if you dive into this feeling, it will last an average time of two years. A short time for a relationship with someone, but a time long enough to destroy .your marriage and provoke deep emotional scars in all involved (the couple, their children, their relatives and friends).
    Unfortunately, our culture overemphasizes “being in love??. This romantic obsession is well described in western literature. The stories of Romeo and Juliet, Paris and Helen, Tristan and Isolde have become part of our collective soul. So, feeling “in love?? with someone gives us this sensation of living the lives of our unconscious heroes. Conveniently, we forget that those stories are tragedies: they involve suffering and death. Is this the end of love?
    I don’t think so. Love can be nurtured and tendered in your marriage. It is possible to live your life with your spouse in growing love. In the end, there is a deep intimacy that makes the couple feel as one. It is a calmer but deeper feeling.

  2. All of the things that you say about living your life with your spouse in growing love presuppose that your spouse is willing and able to do this.
    What if you are married to a self-centered, cruel person whose neglect has slowly driven you away for so long that you no longer want any part of them?
    I am not advocating infidelity. I am saying that sometimes people actually meet someone else who really does care for them in a way that the person they married never did. That doesn’t mean you run out and have an affair with the person. It might mean that you ask for a divorce though, so you can attempt to have an honest, healthy relationship with another responsible adult. When your friends treat you better than your spouse, it’s a wake-up call sometimes.

  3. Thank you so much for putting this logically and uncomplicated! I have been feeling lost in my marriage and in my place in our family and you’ve basically answered my question of what I’m looking for. Divorce or someone else isn’t a factor but the emptiness that has been sitting within me has been bothering me like a monkey on my back but now I know what I need to do. To find that purpose for myself and I have been wanting to looking into volunteer work for quite some time. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

  4. Why do people talk about marriage here? Falling in love and having romance has little to do with your legal status.
    And while we’re at it, I know its hard thing to check, but in most cases marriage happens when people “fall in love”, then the “miracle” happens and baby or two spawns. Then they have an agreement to stay together, hide the knives and baseball bats, until the children grow up…
    I know this is a rough generalization, so take it as such (don’t respond with your individual examples saying you are not in this group).
    As for “falling in love” and having “romantic X months”, this article is right on the spot. In short, its a drug, just like eating cheese every hour or drinking coca cola…

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