Romantic love is a mystery because we don’t know where it comes from, who gets affected by it when, nor do we know how it serves or why it hurts the lovers.
Romantic love affects the lovers in a profound way and its repercussions could affect a family or even the whole community. Romantic love is the subject of the majority of stories, poetry and literature all over the world.
Romantic love is as old as any culture. The biblical Jacob worked and waited two seven-year periods for the hand of the girl he loved. Prophet Mohammad, in his later years, fell in love with a very young woman, Aisheh, and as an example of his love for her it is said that he protected her from rumors of her infidelity.
King David sent his General to war to get killed because he was in love with the general’s wife. And, today’s tabloids are filled with reports on forbidden unions between men and women of fame and power.
Although we know that romantic love has a history as long as our consciousness, we cannot seem to speak about it in any systematic way. The reason for love’s defiance of any categorization is the nature of love itself. Because whenever romantic love descends upon a human lover, it is new and unique in its expressions.
There are no answers to questions such as, why did this person fall in love with that person at this time and place?
It is the uniqueness of each romantic love that prevents us from making any generalization about love. This means that no love can be used as a yardstick for the shape or form love could take in the life of another lover. Nor can one experience of romantic love be a predictor of another love experience, even in the life of the same person. Nor can we argue about the purpose for the occurrence of each love in the life of an individual person.
Whenever the powerful mystery of romantic love enters the life of an individual, all bets are off. Each love will need a new theory of understanding because none of the other loves in history can fully explain the nature of this love.
On the other hand, and ironically, we all know love. We know that there are universal attributes to romantic love. But we each only know the love we have experienced, not the love that another person is in or has experienced. I hypothesize that universal love could only be conceived through reflections upon the uniqueness of each one of our very personal experiences of romantic love. And if we turn this hypothesis around we might even say that we continually live in that universal love, but the only time we can become conscious of it is when our body and soul both fall in love with a heretofore unknown person? This is the reason I claim that the archetype of romantic love is rooted in the love for an “other.”
It is only in the experience of romantic love that we recognize that what we are made of is love. However, we didn’t know this fact until we experienced the love for an unknown in all of our being; body and soul.
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Robert Moradi, M.D. is a Jungian Analyst and psychiatrist in private practice in Santa Monica, California. In addition to his clinical practice, he teaches at the C.G. Jung Institute of Los Angeles, UCLA School of Medicine, and at the Reiss-Davis Child Study Center.More Posts by Robert Moradi