by Nahla Donna
”Sentimentality can become part of what leads to authentic, selfless love for another person, but if we are not careful we can easily become enslaved to our emotions in ways that prevent us from being able to love others.”
When boy meets girl, in addition to noticing her ‘’good looks,’’ he also may find himself powerfully drawn to her femininity, her warm personality, her kindness or her feminine ‘’charm.’’ Similarly, when girl meets boy, she not only may recognize that he is handsome, but also may find herself having strong feelings and admiration for his masculinity, his virtue, the way he carries himself or his masculine ‘’strength.’’
Sentimentality can become part of what leads to authentic, selfless love for another person, but if we are not careful we can easily become enslaved to our emotions in ways that prevent us from being able to love others.
Real love, however, is very different from Hollywood love. Real love requires much effort. It is a virtue that involves sacrifice, responsibility and a total commitment to the other person. Hollywood love is an emotion. It’s something that just happens to you. The focus is not on a commitment to another, but on what is happening inside you – the powerful, good feelings you experience when you’re with this other person.
However, when we are carried away by our emotions, we end up avoiding a very important question that is crucial for the long-term stability of a relationship: the question of truth. We must first and foremost consider the truth about the other person and the truth about the quality of our relationship: ‘’What kind of character does this person really have?’’ ‘’How strong is our relationship, really?’’
We typically experience much instability in the emotional sphere, and many chaotic ups and downs – love and hate, hope and fear, joy and sadness – throughout our lives. Yet ironically, the modern view of love tells us to turn precisely to our feelings – to look right in the middle of this emotional roller coaster ride – to find an infallible measure of our love. No wonder there is so much confusion and instability in relationships today!
We should be asking ourselves, ‘’Does this person really have the qualities and virtues I’m so attracted to?’’ ‘’ Are we really as good a fit for one another as I feel we are?’’ ‘’Is he or she truly worthy of all my trust?’’ ‘’Is there a problem in our relationship that I’m overlooking?’’
Especially at the beginning stages of a relationship, if we naively say we’re not idealizing the other person at all, it’s probably a sign of how far we have already drifted from reality.
Inevitably, this unchecked sentimentality will end in great disillusionment. When the real person comes to the surface – with all her faults and weaknesses – she cannot live up to the ideal. The lover will become quite disappointed in the beloved. The strong feelings will wane, and there will not be much left for the relationship to stand on.
These kind of relationships quickly fall into disillusionment, frustration and maybe even hatred as the beloved can no longer provide the powerful rush of good feelings that came from the ideal that was projected onto them. In summary, sentimentality can be a beautiful, enriching part of love, but it must be integrated with other essential ingredients, or risk becoming the very opposite of love.
Nahla Donna is a life coach who is passionate about personal growth. She blogs at www.nahladonna.wordpress.com
30 Days 30 Voices series is an opportunity for young Nigerians from across the world to share their stories and experiences – creating a meeting point where our common humanity is explored.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.
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