Falling in love with love has been the subject of parody from the time of ancient Greece, to Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night to the present. The 1938 Rodgers and Hart show tune describes falling in love with love as "falling for make-believe" and "playing the fool."
Do real life people actually fall in love with the idea of being in love? Unfortunately, it is quite common. Someone wants desperately to have the husband or wife of their dreams. They visualize the vine-covered cottage with the white picket fence. They choose the colors for the nursery. They design all the aspects of their married life. So what happens when mister or miss "Right" offers a brief smile?
Just as in the comedies, a person who is in love with the idea of love sees prospective partners through the lens of idealism. The reaction is, "This must be the one. They are so perfect – the match of my dreams." Is the person they just met a perfect match? It's unlikely their friends think so. So what happened? That person with the cute smile was not much more than a mirror for the hopes and dreams of the one in love with love.
If the relationship proceeds in spite of the warnings of friends and family, a grand crash awaits. The idealism and vision of a perfect marriage explodes into a firestorm as soon as it becomes clear that the prospective partner was far from matching the idealized image.
Might you be in love with love? Might you be dating someone who is more in love with the idea of love than in love with you? Consider these questions about yourself and the person you are dating.
Before you met, did you have a clear image of the person you wanted to marry? Perhaps you knew you wanted to find a partner who is loving, kind, responsible, likes kids, isn't possessive or domineering, doesn't smoke or do drugs, and holds compatible beliefs about religion. It is important to have established standards such as these on which to evaluate a prospective mate. However, if your image of the person you want to marry is highly visual or sensual, you may be in love with the idea of love.
Does your image sound like, "My husband is going to be six feet, with black wavy hair, no hair on his chest, big hands. We're going to have three children, and my husband is going to be the little league coach and Boy Scout leader." Or, "I'm going to marry a petite blond with big firm breasts. My wife is always going to wear a dress, and she is never going to work after the kids are born." Those sorts of images don't provide any room to marry a real person. No one could ever live up to these fantasies, and a relationship based on such fixed images is bound to crash.
While the preceding paragraph presents an exaggerated picture of falling in love with love, just tone it down until it matches what you have observed in a few of your friends. Then ask whether you or the person you are dating has any tendency toward being in love with a fixed image of how a partner should be.
Great relationships begin with two people who are each self-confident and who come to each other with the openness to see and accept the other as a unique and wonderful person. If there is true love and an alignment of fundamental values, choose to join your life with your new partner and vow never to criticize their nature – the essence that makes them uniquely themselves.