The myth of romantic love

It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go, until I had brought him into my mother’s house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me.–Song of Solomon 3:4

I grew up on the Disney romances.  Essentially that’s what all the Disney princess business was about: the fair damsel in distress who needed rescuing by handsome prince from some evil.   Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White are the three most popular although in these times we have Beauty and the Beast, the Little Mermaid and Jasmine of Aladdin are some additions.

While fostered by men, and some romances are, they cater to little girls.  Little girls hearts have long been fashioned to find the right guy, the Mr. Right, THE handsome prince.  Snow White epitomizes this with the song, “Someday My Prince Will Come.”  The white knight on the horse coming to rescue the maiden.

As we have grown up, little girls bought into the big-girl romances.  The Jane Austen heroes, the Rhett Butlers, even the bizarre and mysterious Bronte romances.    After the period of Harlequin and Barbara Cartland, romances suddenly took a more sensual and sexual turn with the books of Danielle Steel, Johanna Lindsey, Kathleen Woodiwiss and others til the present day, where they have become extremely dark and sexualized, the Twilight Series and 50 Shades of Grey.  I would attribute this to the sexual revolution and the increasing confusion created in women of sex vs. love.

However, in all the romances, I’ve ever read, and I read many as a young woman, I would say there is one overriding theme: the One.  The one whom my soul loveth.   The one man who could come and make the woman’s life right, through rescue, through acts of love, through taking away the cares of life.   Even in 50 Shades of Grey (which I have not read) there is one hero, not many, who can respond to the woman’s innermost needs.

Woman’s greatest desires, for the most part, have been for love and affection, and unfortunately these desires have led her to be beguiled by romantic love.   Romantic love takes that desire and idealizes it, so that we measure real human beings against it.  Women want to feel that they are the one who their hero will love and respond to, they are the one who will receive his affection and be valued by him, and that reciprocally, that he would be the one who could satisfy the innermost needs of our soul.  There is nothing wrong with wanting to find the person right for us as long as we realize that real humans are 1)going to be flawed and not perfect, and 2) that genuine love requires a daily commitment to that person beyond what our dreams lead us.  It can require a lot of patience, longsuffering, commitment and the will to choose to love in spite of flaws either in the relationship or in the person.

Godly women need to reject the ideal of romantic love and to aspire to the genuine love that comes through Christian living and marriage to a godly man who embodies the qualities of a Christian husband.   With that said, I do not say that she should reject the very godly principle of being one flesh with the man God brings into her life, which brings true value and affection.

Genesis teachs and Jesus reiterated that there is a mystical relationship that happens when man and woman join together*.  They become one flesh.   That this is a spiritual as well as physical union is indicated in Ephesians 5.    This is a very important bond, fostered by their intimate relationship, which allows them to function as a couple.   They are one again, and woman becomes one flesh with her husband, to be nourished, cherished, honored and receiving of his love and affection.

Ultimately,  this value and meaning comes from Jesus, and through Him, we find meaning in our godly relationships, one of which the most important is the godly marriage, which is symbolic of the Church’s relationship with it’s Bridegroom.   (Ephesians 5

And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.–Revelation 22:17

* References: Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:5-6, Mark 10:8, 1 Corinthians 6:16, Ephesians 5:31



  1. “Woman’s greatest desires, for the most part, have been for love and affection, and unfortunately these desires have led her to be beguiled by romantic love.”

    What is the distinction you would make between “love” (“genuine love”?) and “romantic love”?


    1. Romantic love is idealized. We conceive in our minds an ideal of what we think love should be–just like the little girl dreaming of a handsome prince. I think we confuse romance with caring and affection. There is nothing wrong at all with doing tender, caring, affection things toward our loved one. Flowers, chocolates, love notes. Nothing wrong with these. But what I hope was clear is that when we get a pre-conceived notion in our heads of what our love should be then we can become discontented with the real thing, always reaching after something that is not attainable.

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  2. I believe the reason a lot of women become dissatisfied in their personal relationships is because they are stretching for their dark and handsome, even exotic fellow who can satisfy our inner souls. When right beside is a caring, loving man who is committed to us and proves his love on a daily basis. And this can be true for men too. Not every woman looks like the world’s ideal of beauty. This can leave us feeling short-changed when we have everything we need and want right there for us.

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  3. By the way, I write Christian novels. While some of my heroes have been attractive, the hero of my current novel is not. He is an ordinary looking man who nevertheless has a strong character, is loving and affectionate, and is spiritually dynamic. The heroine chooses him over a dangerous, controlling “alpha male” type who leaves her feeling uncertain, is seriously controlling and really spiritually devoid.

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  4. I re-read the text, and added to it further explanation about the limitations of romantic love. Romantic love only sees the ideal. The happily ever after whereas genuine love can require a lot more from us: patience, longsuffering, commitment and even humility. We realize the person we married is flawed, not perfect, so Jesus closes that gap with His agape love. We are able to appreciate that person for who they are and committing ourselves daily even when the “spark” of romance isn’t always present. Does that make sense?


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