Romantic Love is Selfish

Happy Valentines Day Everyone!

It’s been a while since I’ve written a twist, but today is Valentine’s day, and I believe it calls for one. As with every Valentine’s day, our thoughts drift to either the joy of love, or the solitude of loneliness. This Valentine’s dawn has been no different for me, and it all began with this article (a good read for a different perspective on loneliness).

However, my article is not going to be about loneliness. I actually want to give a different perspective on love. You see, in thinking about today, and about love, my thoughts drifted to my experiences around the topic. I thought about people I love as friends, as family, and of course, people I love romantically. I use love as opposed to loved (even though I’m single), because I know that love isn’t something that disappears, it merely changes expression.

Everyone that I have loved in the past, I still love now. We may have argued or broken up, we may no longer speak, my love may even have been rejected, but even at that, those loved ones still hold a special place in my heart. Because  love is more powerful than disagreements.

Whatever happened in the past, often makes it more difficult for us to love in the present. Yet as long as memories of loving times remain, our love never truly disappears… and for some people, it even becomes fuel for the negative feelings of regret, resentment, anger, or whatever else. Some of the most powerful of these negative feelings, are those born from romantic love. The kind of love that we’re all either thinking about, or experiencing today, and thus the kind I want to talk about here.

As with all things (but especially with love), all roads lead back to the bible… and my favourite verse on the topic (probably yours as well), is 1 Corinthians 13:4 – 8.

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.

Now many would read this, and think to themselves that I’m contradicting the title of this post: as the part that reads [love] does not seek its own seems to state otherwise. Nevertheless, I argue that romantic love is selfish to some degree. Because while romantic love involves a desire to love another unconditionally, it also involves the desire for them to love you in the same way, exclusively. It is this exclusivity clause that makes selfish a fitting description for romantic love.

But does that make the good book wrong? Does it mean I lack understanding? Or does it mean romantic love by definition, is impure? No! In the same way the article I started this discussion with describes a solitude that brings value in its loneliness, I think the selfishness of romantic love is one that brings value in its self-interest!

Furthermore, I propose that this selfishness in romantic love, is one that does not contradict the Bible, but is actually provided for by it. After all, isn’t that what monogamy is all about!? Loving someone so much that you want them all to yourself? The best illustration being in our need for marriage vows.

As people, I think we always put a great deal of importance on our part in our marriage vows. In taking them before God, we show the depth and the truth of our love. But more so than the our part in marriage, what struck me today was what God has done through marriage. With the rites of matrimony, God provides for our hearts’ foremost desire in romantic love.

I ask you this: Why must our loved ones so completely promise their love to us when getting married? Is it really for themselves? Does the promise to love you and only you really fulfill any of their own desires? Without the promise, will they cease loving you? Does God need their promise to know of their love? I think not!

The vows that our partners make to us are clearly not for themselves. Neither are they for our omniscient and omnipotent Lord of Hosts. They are entirely for our benefit, and we desire them because we selfishly desire their love. So much so, that  we demand all of their love, for all time, and in all situations, unconditionally. Truly, it is the selflessness of their vows, in response to the selfish desires of our love, that make marriage such a serious commitment, and the most cherished display of love we have.

Romantic love is selfish… yet it is that very selfishness that provides a platform for a most selfless display of undying love.  Quite the twist, don’tcha think? 😀

Damola Mabogunje

Software Engineer by day, Blogger, Poet and Author, by night, I spend my days writing everything from the convex comma, to highly complex code.

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