On the road leading to Valentine’s day, I found myself perusing the film commentary section of YouTube, finding one in particular that asked the question: “What is the point in a doomed romance?”
In so many films, in so many books and stories, the approach to romance is to have two white, youthful and heterosexual people struggle before ultimately having their happy ending. Which is to say, their reunion or their final coming together.
We don’t see them age. We don’t see work or career commitments affecting their relationship, or even parenthood for that matter. We don’t see them change, or one change so much that the other can’t understand the other – irreconcilable differences – so they divorce.
Our whole myth around finding “the one” is based on two white, youthful and heterosexual people in the first phases of love who believe no change will happen and they will be with this person forever.
I know my expectations of romantic love certainly have been moulded (or poisoned) by the “love at first sight” myth or even the story of Romeo and Juliet. For R&J I was fascinated at the passion portrayed and desperately desired romantic love but at the same time, I feared it. I didn’t want love to kill me. I didn’t want to be that mad. So I regarded my coupled peers in disdain.
And I also expected to just look at someone and “know,” and also to meet them in a sweet, cute and easy fairy tale location.
The bar had already been set high enough with the expected qualifications of “life partner,” so why not set it higher with how the meeting had to happen?
But, what is the point of a doomed romance?
When the end goal of a narrative changes to the lovers ultimately separating, the story can explore the sadder and more bittersweet or obsessive aspects of falling in love without romanticising them – excuse the pun.
It can begin to explore life after the haze of romance and the idea of lust not equating to compatibility.
Often, when we break up with someone who is not going to be our wife or husband, they turn out to be “the one we learn from” rather than “the one.”
The breakup, however painful it might be, is a point of clarification. Who are we? What do we want? What is important to us?
That is the point of a “doomed romance.”
I don’t argue that fated by the stars, designed for each other lovers don’t exist, but for most of us, those who will learn from many, it’s a case of trial and error with self-improvement and self-growth at its core.
And that’s how the ancient Chinese saw it, growth feeds love. The commitment to the self as an individual feeds love.
In self-growth, we grow towards what we will love and those who will love us and grow away from that which no longer loves us. But the commitment to growth must come before love.
I didn’t want to release this on Valentine’s day as it seems to be deliberately contradictory to the overall message of the day!
What I want to end with is a question: What do you believe about love? How has this been moulded by the stories you’ve been read and told? How has this been moulded by your experiences? And what you believe, is it really true?
What I like about the doomed romance is that, in some renditions, it lends a sort of fluidity to the story that can feel healthy. The absolutism of the eternal romance however, can feel sick because it is so fixed.
So if you don’t understand the last question let me rephrase:
And what you believe, is it absolute? How does it feel to have that belief?
Your intuition will give you the answers.