An excerpt from the book, Chaos by Raksha Bharadia.
The thrill of pursuit is over. We have what we had been chasing. Most of the firsts of romance are over—the first skip of the heartbeat, the first exchange of secret glances, the first holding of hands, the first declaration of love, the first kiss, the first lovemaking!
Now we have unfettered access to the other, both emotional and physical, our desires have been satiated, and since we have vowed commitment to each other, we are certain of the access in future too. The charm of opening our intimate space to the other, the privilege of being in another’s intimate space, has lost its novelty. We are no longer dying to know his favourite dish or song, no longer apprehensive about her likes and dislikes, or curious about what hurt her in the past or whom he was closest to. Our beloved reciprocates our un-frenzied state. The edge has waned, and with it, the anxiety and uncertainty and the chemical rush of being on that edge. We may call it maturity—or finding comfort and peace with each other—but in a very real sense we feel blasé about it. Besides, falling in love had meant merging, and now that merging has run its course.
Sometimes, the ‘unmerging’ that follows falling out of love, is ego-shattering and often traumatic.
But addicted to the stupor, to the charming state of feeling alive from our very core, we long for the feeling and unwillingly blame either the other or ourselves for the fizzed-out romance. What we had overlooked in the romance stage now bothers us; the very qualities that had appealed to us may now turn into irritants; what we had seen as the other’s simplicity may now seem boring; what we had earlier perceived as perfectionism may now seem nagging; the extrovert now seems aggressive; the quiet listener, closed and aloof. Exasperated, we ask,‘Are you really the person I fell in love with?’
Just as they were not Prince Charming to begin with, they do not really turn into frogs when the chemical cocktail’s effects subside.
Romantic love is notoriously precarious— obsessive, erratic, consuming, fleeting, exhilarating, depressing. Once requited, it can slip easily into boredom. It craves security and possession of the beloved, yet when this very craving finds fulfilment, the situation may seem stifling with time!
Glorification of romance as never-ending, glamorous and fulfilling, is repeatedly reinforced via innumerable mediums. Many industries and businesses depend on it— the fashion industry, health and wellness, television shows, music, literature and of course Bollywood!
In all other relationships (where romantic love is not at play) emotions and intensity are allowed to wax and wane, and though never comfortable or pleasant for the one at the receiving end, is accepted without much fuss and chaos. But in romantic love these phases are taken as aberrations, and appear as chaos. A friend wrote, ‘Why does (love) have to be irrational and like a drug-induced high… all grand and emphasized through every action and thought… why can’t it be allowed to be a little passive… allowed to wane a bit at times… why can’t you just like someone you love sometimes without wanting to get into their heads… without expecting them to fire you up every time without fail.’
Attraction between couples typically wanes after two years, yet television, movies and magazines actively encourage the notion that fading romance and boredom is a sign of a failed relationship. Mass media brainwashes us with unrealistic portrayals of romantic love contributing to the construction of impossible expectations. Glorification of romance as never-ending, glamorous and fulfilling, is repeatedly reinforced via innumerable mediums. Many industries and businesses depend on it— the fashion industry, health and wellness, television shows, music, literature and of course Bollywood! A ubiquitous feature of Bollywood cinema is happy endings—concluding a film with the union of a romantic couple. Besides, they oversimplify the process of falling in love and revalidate its eternal ideal forcing us to think that it could and should be achieved. Deepak Kashyap, counselling psychologist and a certified life-skills trainer with a private practice in Mumbai said to me during an interview, ‘What ruins romance is when you try to convert it into a three-hour Bollywood movie. Any book, any movie, any webcast is time-bound, and real life is long and boring. When you pack a life of three decades into a three-hour movie, you are expecting something different. And when your expectations are not fulfilled, you either attack yourself, others, or life.’
Image Credit: Raksha Bharadia/ Rupa Publications India
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Excerpted with permission from Chaos by Raksha Bharadia, Rupa Publications India.