It’s easy to fall in love with the idea of being in love. Movies and TV make falling in love seem so appealing. Did you know that romance novels are the most popular literary genre, comprising half of all paperback books sold? The thought that love will solve all your problems can be a pleasing fantasy. What’s the difference between that and really being in love anyway?
Terry has a difficult boss at work who constantly criticizes her. Even more, she feels very lonely and listless. As an escape from the stress, she has started reading five romance novels a month. It’s made her begin to think that she needs some romance in her life and that she should try to meet someone.
Although she thinks dating someone would really help her level of stress, she complains that she can’t meet anyone suitable to date at her usual hangouts. To her surprise, she soon meets Jeremy while exploring a new local coffee shop. She’s ecstatic- he’s tall and good-looking. They really hit it off.
Terry and Jeremy quickly get involved in an intense relationship. Exciting at first, the relationship soon takes a turn for the worse when she discovers that he has some serious anger issues. When he gets mad at her, he calls her mean names. Terry is afraid she made a big mistake and wants to end it with Jeremy, but is afraid of going back to being alone.
In her rush to find a romantic partner, Terry didn’t get to know the real Jeremy before getting involved. In reality, she didn’t really want to get to know him- she wanted a romance novel cut-out that could comfort her. In an effort to maintain this powerful fantasy, she failed to see Jeremy for who he really was and to evaluate their compatibility.
I call this type of relationship a microwave romance. It’s a romance that progresses at lightning speed — and typically explodes in your face. Why? You can’t tell if you can trust a man or if the relationship has true potential after only a few dates. Getting physical early on can make you feel vulnerable. These relationships often crash and burn because they are more about in-the-moment emotions instead of long-term love.
Carla and Jay have just begun dating and they have both decided to consciously take things slowly in their new relationship. After a few dates, Jay tells her about some difficult family problems he’s struggling with. His mother has some health issues and has become very hard to get along with.
Carla is a little scared of getting involved with Jay because of his mother’s problems, but she’s glad that he told her. Because they have been gradually getting to know each other, Carla can weigh this information against everything else she has come to know about Jay before coming to a decision about how to move forward.
After some time, Carla is able to share with Jay some similar problems she’s had with her mother and how her family moved passed them. The more she has gotten to know him, the more she has seen how good a man he is… and the more she cares for him.
Unlike Terry, Carla is careful to get to know the heart of the man she is dating instead of projecting her own hopes and desires onto him. She can be vulnerable with him because he is understanding and sympathetic. She’s open to seeing his flaws and to continuing to see if she wants a relationship with him. This is a relationship based on mutual respect and caring, not just fantasy.
Are you still wondering if your relationship is love or just you wanting to be in love? If so, it may be time to be brutally honest with yourself. Do you feel you can count on him? Do you want a future with him? Do you feel emotionally connected?
If not, it may be time to take off your rose-colored glasses and see him — and the relationship — for what it truly is.
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