On Romantic love

It’s fickle, and it hurts, but it’s wonderful too…





romantic-love-couples 2

Suddenly I’m in over my head and I can hardly breathe
Suddenly I’m floating over her bed and I feel everything
Suddenly I know exactly what I did, but I can not move a thing
And suddenly I know exactly what I’ve done
And what it’s gonna mean to me, mean to me, I’m gone (John Mayer, Assassin)

It’s easy to become numb these days. So much going on in the world, so much pain, so much hurt, and so much of it unnecessary. We close up, we guard our hearts or perish. There are a lot of people in the world walking around with their shields up. Don’t come close. Lets go out, let’s have sex but don’t let it be any more than that. It’s surprising that for many “love” is a dirty word, and if you utter it too soon in a relationship you’re doomed.

A work colleague I knew went out with this guy for several months. One night, during an intimate moment (I didn’t want to know what that meant) she couldn’t help herself and blurted to him “I love you”. The next day she was distraught and wanted to ask me whether she had made a fatal mistake. What shocked me was that we didn’t have that kind of friendship where we would normally share intimate things like that. She must have been really shaken up. I don’t remember what I said, because I really didn’t know how to respond.

Well, she was right. A few short weeks later it was over, in spite of the fact that he still seemed to have strong feelings for her, and there was this long messy after period where they would get together and not be anything more than friends, while all the while she was dying inside.

What is it with people? I get it that you can move too soon, and if anyone was declaring their love after a couple of dates, and planning how many kids they were going to have, you’d be right in wanting to run as fast as you could. But after a few months (these guys were in their 30’s by the way) it’s not inconceivable that someone’s feelings could grow that strong.

From what I can tell, this avoidance of emotional commitment is not uncommon, and ladies, tell me if I’m wrong but I get the impression that a lot of women are just as keen to keep relationships at a semi-committed level. In lots of movies and sitcoms, either the guy or the girl are keen to dodge the “l” word.

This seems to me to be more of a modern thing really. I remember as a young man that, sure, you didn’t jump into relationships too soon, maybe you played the field a bit for a while, but I don’t remember that “love” was a dirty word. For those of you around my age, is that true? Or was it just me?

That’s why when I hear the song by John Mayer, Assassin, I can’t help but smile and feel all mushy and warm inside when he sings the lyrics that are at the beginning of this blog. The song is about a cold hearted lover (l’m an assassin … I’d steal your heart before you ever heard a thing”) who takes what he wants and leaves. But then “Suddenly I’m over my head …. I feel everything”. He’s fallen for someone – he’s in uncharted waters and how glorious it is to be undone. To feel your heart melt for someone else, to feel so alive and so vulnerable, to be overwhelmed with emotions that almost bring tears to your eyes, to have your senses reeling , your mind addled, all you know is that you want to be with her…

That’s something we all deserve to feel, need to feel. It won’t last forever, and neither should it (being lovesick is a real thing – you can pine away from it, it’s so demanding on your body). But oh to yield to it even for a short while, to drink in its presence as a welcome guest. It will leave soon enough (or at least fade in its intensity).

Because life long relationships aren’t sustained by this kind of feeling. Sooner or later there has to be something more solid and reliable. Tom Cruise, when he went berserk on Oprah Winfrey was in the thrall of love. It was so real, he didn’t care that he made a fool of himself on stage. (I actually found it a little embarrassing. Maybe such convolutions are best kept to a more private audience?). Now I don’t know enough about his relationship with Katie Holmes (and I’m not interested enough to find out out) but only a few short years later it all came to a rather nasty ending. His amazingly powerful, life transforming emotions were not enough.

Those feelings are so wonderful, so energising, you feel so alive, that the pain associated with losing the person who is the source of that love can be intense, to say the least. And of course, people who have loved and lost no doubt lost much more than just the romantic feelings in their relationship. Love hurts – it does.

So we need more than that physical rush to make a relationship work. But that doesn’t mean we should avoid that wonderful abandonment, that joyous imprisonment to a state of utter vulnerability that comes when someone sweeps us off our feet. Indeed, even in the hopefully long and rewarding years ahead with our life partner, occasional moments of giddy love (tempered now by familiarity and comfortableness around each other) can still bubble out.

Maybe the trick in abandoning ourselves to it is to see it for what it is – that it isn’t mature love, its romantic love. Leonard Cohen in his song “Alexandra Leaving” describes (I think) love and eros coming and going almost as a separate entity, and not at the command or control of the lover. He exhorts us to take it for what it is, embrace it for what it is and then let it go. I like that. Here’s to those amazing moments – may we all abandon ourselves enough to have the privilege of experiencing them.

Alexandra Leaving (Leonard Cohen)

Suddenly the night has grown colder.
The god of love preparing to depart.
Alexandra hoisted on his shoulder,
They slip between the sentries of the heart.

Upheld by the simplicities of pleasure,
They gain the light, they formlessly entwine;
And radiant beyond your widest measure
They fall among the voices and the wine.

It’s not a trick, your senses all deceiving,
A fitful dream, the morning will exhaust –
Say goodbye to Alexandra leaving.
Then say goodbye to Alexandra lost.

Even though she sleeps upon your satin;
Even though she wakes you with a kiss.
Do not say the moment was imagined;
Do not stoop to strategies like this.

As someone long prepared for this to happen,
Go firmly to the window. Drink it in.
Exquisite music. Alexandra laughing.
Your firm commitments tangible again.

And you who had the honor of her evening,
And by the honor had your own restored –
Say goodbye to Alexandra leaving;
Alexandra leaving with her lord.

Even though she sleeps upon your satin;
Even though she wakes you with a kiss.
Do not say the moment was imagined;
Do not stoop to strategies like this.

As someone long prepared for the occasion;
In full command of every plan you wrecked –
Do not choose a coward’s explanation
that hides behind the cause and the effect.

And you who were bewildered by a meaning;
Whose code was broken, crucifix uncrossed –
Say goodbye to Alexandra leaving.
Then say goodbye to Alexandra lost.

Say goodbye to Alexandra leaving.
Then say goodbye to Alexandra lost.


Author: Terry Lewis

I'm a guy in his 50's who thought it might be fun to write about day to day issues - the stuff that life is made of. It's helped me think and develop some deeper perspectives. I enjoyed it so much I thought I might start posting it in a blog, and here we are! I intend to mix it up as much as I can. I am a thinking kind of guy so the majority of my posts will probably have some kernel of truth or (hopefully) wisdom nestled in there somewhere. But I also hope to have some light hearted posts as well. Too much thinking can make life pretty dull! Anyway, hope you like it.

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