By Alina Ostrovsky
It is most natural that when two hearts march in unison with the other, it creates a surreal feeling of connection between a man and a woman. Upon sight of the beloved, our breath stops in wonderment, while butterflies in our stomach start swirling inside of us, and this is when we know that our spirits are intertwined into tangled inseparable knots. These are the unfailing signs that propel the fruition of love in a dancing grace of innocence, originating from the essence of a majestic air that surrounds the impassioned atmosphere of a given couple.
Love: Unbounded and limitless
In all actuality, “love is a way of seeing, a way of structuring the world and one’s place in it”, finding our role, niche in it, so to speak. What binds a couple is the internalisation of the world that encompasses the other, which makes the combined view significantly more dynamic than one’s own. If the view were to be unfavourable, uninteresting, and its vista unbecoming, a couple may be only driven by the fuel of the physical, which can be easily depleted, extinguishing the alighted flame of the Relationship. This leaves the relationship at the mercy of temporality.
“True love” is supposed to extend to horizons of mutual synchrony, binding both worlds of the individuals in perfect harmony. Physical love, unpopularly called “dazed love”, does not come close to the potential of an “everlasting” one, the latter leading to painful heartbreaks. Nevertheless, it takes a process to be able to distinguish one from the other. It all comes down to the well-known phrase: “Love is not a person you can live with—it is a person you cannot live without.” It is a sort of a “divine madness” that nourishes itself through the source of “spiritual ambrosia”. As a whole new world opens up, “in loving, we become aware of things we hadn’t noticed before, not because they weren’t there, but because we weren’t attuned to them”. On the other hand, misleading love clouds the horizons of the world, dimming it with clutter. This is when one of the partners or both of them turn out to be victims of each other or of the victimizer, which turns it into a “parasitic” form of loving, arising its abuses.
Friendship as the foundation of love
Friendship is the best foundation that a potential love relationship can be based on and start blooming from. Friendship is comprised of a set of principles of respect and mutual companionship that shares a timeline of experiences with each other. The initial and very firm boundary that it maintains in a newly acquainted relationship provides a springboard for a platonic interaction that is sacred in the way that it allows two individuals to not stray from the focus of exploring each other’s nature, values and interests. Throughout time, these components intrinsically bind a couple that safeguards their path towards developing something more than a friendship.
Romantic passion arising prematurely has the potential to ruin the foundation of a friendship in which the relationship is supposed to be based on, which increases its chances of crumbling altogether. It is best to take it slow and inhibit the destructive instinct of impatience that creates expectations bound for disappointment. A gradual formation of intimacy promises a fortune of bliss. Victor Karandasher stated in that regard, “love is best viewed as a mixture of lust and friendship, which includes tenderness and affection.” However, that is a description of an advanced stage of a love relationship. A potential successful relationship better not start with lust. The first ingredient in the “mixture” must be friendship, and lust, very gradually and gently, can be added only after a friendship has been set.
The right mix for a compatible relationship
According to Psychology Today, a stable relationship is based on the dichotomy of likability vs. desirability. The likeability factor “cater[s] to each other’s wants and needs just out of kindness or thoughtfulness [without a set of ulterior motives or abiding by the guidelines of a certain agenda], which increases someone’s platonic feelings towards another person”. Desirability factor is the acknowledgement of the absence of those needs and attracting oneself to another by means of mysteriousness as one is playing hard to get. Playing hard to get forces the other partner to work harder, creating a suspenseful chemistry between the two. There should be a fine balance between these factors. If a relationship starts directly from desirability, there is no potential for the fruition of a friendship as it directly jumps into intimacies. For example, creating an acquaintance by starting with a pick-up line to make oneself more desirable offsets the balance, because the intention in that pick-up line is not altruistic—it directly demands intimacies. Too much likeability, however, and not enough desirability makes a friendship stagnant that does not have the potential to evolve into something more in a long run as it is too obvious in a way that it poses no challenges.
Predictably, functional and fun-loving relationships lead to successful marriages. Yet there are major differences between the Western ideologies of Marriage and Asian based marriages such as those of India. There are benefits and drawbacks in both. The Western world in search of a mate is engrained in the individualistic value that is “characterised by a desire to be self-sufficient”, typically excluding the opinion and acceptance of the social network by which a particular person is surrounded. More specifically, the decision to engage in a relationship and delve into its intricacies is independent. Therefore, the quest for a mate is energised by the self.
How are Indian marriages different?
On the other hand, India operates from a collectivist viewpoint. In other words, “when people make decisions in their romantic relationships, they take into account both what they think is best for them as well as how it affects their other relationships,” involving their social circle. While the individualistic culture might experience more freedom and dexterity in their decision-making, lack of consultation with others might create a limited perspective, ignoring the red-flags of a relationship in question. Although a collectivist culture might restrict an individual from independent choice and personal liberty, the perspective of onlookers might be sincere and more accurate since it has the capacity to spot red-flags without being blinded by bias. For these reasons, India is notoriously prominent for arranged marriages, which might strike the Western ideals as mere wickedness. An Indian woman described arranged marriage as follows:
“Here, we get married without having feelings for the person. We base our marriages on commitment, not on feelings. As our marriage progresses, the feelings develop. In America, you base your decision to marry on feelings, but what happens when the feelings wane? You have nothing left to keep the marriage together if you get married according to feelings and then the feelings go away.”
This follows that the custom of arranged marriage has the capacity to better develop a meaningful friendship, but you still might run across the chance of not developing feelings at all. It is believed that the probability of that is slim because the parents that arrange the couple put a lot of effort in carefully filtering through their choice. They put their best foot forward in getting to know their potential son-in-law and daughter-in-law along with developing a good rapport with their families. Quite interestingly, the divorced rate in India is 2%, while in Western cultures is as high as 50%, but who is to guarantee that all of the 98% of arranged marriages end up to be happy. Maybe it is significantly lower because divorce is heavily frowned upon in India.
Looking at the bigger picture
No marriage, not even a successful one, is an unblemished perfection. Sometimes, there are slips and obstacles. Obstacles can actually build in more steadfastness and resiliency. It is even believed that infidelity can be overcome and actually fortify the marriage through the process of restoring it. However, unfortunately, it also has the potential to lead to destruction. In reality, “marriages don’t end because of infidelity; they end because of how infidelity is dealt with”. One way of constructively dealing with it is by implementing the miraculous healing power of forgiveness. If the love is truly deep, then no failure can come against it. A couple can come out even stronger and united than before with an abundance of overflowing appreciation as long as the act of compassion is practised.
All in all, a society thrives through deeply dedicated marriages. It is the fuel by which social mechanisms operate. The familial values of marriage can, in turn, create productive citizens. Marital commitment reflects itself through individuals’ dedication to their careers and workforce. Since marriage builds itself up, it likewise perpetuates the flourishment of society as it continually develops.
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