Today is the official day to celebrate Valentine’s Day.
There is some dispute about how Saint Valentine and the idea of love got connected in the first place. The most reasonable explanation appears to be that Chaucer noted that on Saint Valentine’s Day, falling in the spring as it does, the doves were commencing to mate. His poem connected that matting with the idea of romantic love and we have been chasing that connection ever since.
Eric Fromm in The Art of Loving made note that there is no other human activity that is so regularly begun with great hopes and expectations and yet so often fails. He also tells us that we take the intensity of this new infatuation as a reflection of our intensity of love when it is only a reflection of our previous loneliness.
No I don’t mean to disparage those of you who have or are about to fall in love on or about this annual springtime holiday. Undeniable there is no other human emotion that is so exciting, so rewarding or as crazy-making as falling in love.
There have been those couples who have spent their entire lives together in a great love. What many of those couples will tell us is that those initial feelings of romance and attraction were not enough to sustain the relationship and that staying in love is a much greater task than falling in love in the first lace.
Having one significant person in your life, most often a primary love and sexual partner, has a profound influence on your mental health. A seriously mentally ill person who has that one person, they perceive as loving, living in the home with them is half as likely to end up in a psychiatric hospital. Love has its advantages.
If only love lasted. If only it had a slightly better shelf life.
With more marriages ending in divorce than those staying together these days it is easy to be cynical about marriage. I fear the out of love spouse who has just found out their partner has been cheating more than the paranoid schizophrenic. Especially if that jilted lover has a gun.
Living together without marrying is even less secure. Unmarried couples are more likely to dissolve the relationship than married ones, particularly within the first year after the birth of a child. Something about not sleeping while being up all night to care for a sick child and the resulting irritability takes the bloom of any flowering love.
There is also an incredible disconnect between those wonderful romantic things that couples say about each other in that first bloom of love and the hurtful things they say about each other in mediation and family court appearances when the relationship comes unraveled.
Most of the time that person we fall in love with is less real than the cartoon characters on the Saturday morning show. We see in this other the reflection of what we want and need and we project back who we think we need to be in order to have them love us. The masks do not come off until the crying child and the stress of earning a living deter us from keeping up pretenses.
Beware listening to that siren sound that tells you, if you could just find that one person who has the things you lack, that person who could complete you, then you two will live happily ever after. Two partial people are not able to create a whole relationship.
Recognize on this day devoted to another love quest that no one will be able to love you more than you love yourself and if you feel empty and incomplete alone you will feel equally lacking when you are with someone.
Those people who like themselves and feel good alone have something to give to another. Two complete and happy people have a chance that two wounded and suffering people never will. If you want a happy relationship get happy first and get relationshiped second.
Having said all this about caution in the matters of love, I know what is about to transpire. The days are getting warmer. The flowers are blooming. The birds are falling in love and mating and the hormones in we humans are on the rise.
Let the illogical falling in love begin.
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page . For information about my other writing work beyond this blog there is also a Facebook authors page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com .