5 Unexpected Steps To Creating Lasting, Romantic Love

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keep your expectations realistic

All of us have dreamed about a romantic love affair that will last a lifetime, right? Even the most cynical of us did, at some point.

There are lots of poems, movies, plays, novels, paintings, and what not dedicated to this theme. It has inspired artists and made people feel the highest (and the lowest) emotions.

In reality, approximately half of US marriages end in divorce — which is not even mentioning break-ups, bitter feelings, depression, and the following disillusion. Every day I deal with clients in my office who are going through this aftermath of the romantic “high.”

RELATED: Changing This One Thing About My Own Behavior Is The Secret To Lasting Love

So what is it that we want so much? And why doesn't it work so often?

Let's look at it from the existential point of view.

Many existential philosophers suggest that the problem is the romantic relationships rarely live up to the ideal, as noted by Dr. Cleary. We create a certain ideal in our mind of someone who combines a physical attraction with a strong friendship. A person who is always ready to be on your side and help you out, and is super generous in finances and in feelings. Who gets along well with your family and friends, and is entertaining when you are bored and leaves you alone when you need space.

But how realistic is that? Probably not at all.

That is why we rarely fall in love with just one person in a lifetime. It rarely lasts forever. It rarely manifests in perfect happiness all the time. We are trying to find different sides of our ideal in our next partner.

In reality, romantic relationships are more elusive and complicated than the ideal.

However, you’ll have better chances in keeping your fire burning if you follow these existential tips:

1. Choose human behavior over animalistic instincts. 

Soren Kierkegaard considered people to be prisoners of their natural urges. We typically crave immediate gratification of our desires. We prefer sex to love.

Many famous lovers, like Don Giovanny, looked at people like sexual objects, which is fun at the moment but is essentially shallow and eventually leads to melancholy and even despair.

Love is like a drug, and we should enjoy it. But, according to Kierkegaard, we can still choose our behavior, and own our passions instead of being slaves to animalistic passion.

2. Remember that one plus one equals two.

In love, we often feel like becoming “one” with our beloved — becoming “we” instead of “you” and “I.” It is a basic need of attachment, of togetherness, of not feeling alone.

Existential philosophers like Martin Buber or Viktor Frankl pointed out the essential faultiness of such approach. We are isolated in our existence, and we need to accept it, as Dr. Irvin Yalom pointed out.

A romantic relationship will enrich our lives if we do not lose our freedom. If we become overly controlling, monitoring every step of our partner, or tend to spend all our time together it can cause a serious problem, according to the French existential philosopher and writer Jean-Paul Sartre.

Many times, I observed how it caused conflicts and misunderstandings in my clients. It may cause irritation and destroy trust.

The best option for a harmonious relationship are two circles, overlapping only in the middle. Embrace your differences and be individuals contributing to each other!

3. Deepen your friendship.

Have you noticed that in strong relationships, the two are not only lovers but also good friends? In fact, many people would like their partner to be their best friend. The ones who enjoy it can always rely on each other’s support and be a good team. Then they flourish together.

The great German existential philosopher and writer Friedrich Nietzsche pointed out that good friends educate each other and inspire to achieve more. They push each other to new possibilities, opportunities, and challenges.

Constructive challenge, as opposed to mere criticism, can be very helpful for the personal growth, and hence improve the relationship.

4. Develop common interests and goals.

Long before Dr. Gottman pointed out the importance of having common goals and interests in life, Nietzsche said that while the passion may fade, the lovers will still enjoy each other’s company having interesting conversations.

Try to find a partner who is interesting to talk to.

A common project or goal can even be a common struggle, as the French existentialist writer Simone de Beauvoir wrote. Some couple are active in politics or communal work, while the others develop businesses together or work towards raising a family and keeping it together.

A common goal will make your life together meaningful and will give you new interesting topics for discussions.

5. Prioritize each other over anybody else.

This last point is especially important. We tend to take our most important person in life for granted, putting kids, work, parents, even extended family in the first place.

Time and again, I observe how it hurts the feelings of a person when a husband forgets about her doctor’s appointment because he has a new project at work, or when a wife decides to go to her mother’s house for the Holidays another time even though she knows her husband does not feel comfortable there.

Sartre’s and Beauvoir’s lifelong union is an example of a companionship that lasted a lifetime even when the physical passion faded. They treated each other as the most important person in each other’s life. That simple.

Human existence is uncertain and isolating. The romantic love is one of the biggest challenges we have in our existence. It can make us happier together and stronger individually. Strengthen your romantic relationship without losing your own personality and freedom, and strive together!

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Lana Cole is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist practicing in Orange, CA. For more personal advice on dating and relationship, visit Lana Cole's website.

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