Is Our Society Too Fixated On Romantic Love?

By Denise Hellekson, MS, LISW
The Village Business Institute

I’ve been seeing lots of “The Bachelorette” television ads–it must be time for another round of. I have to admit I have sat transfixed by the antics of past contestants who will “do whatever it takes in the name of love.” I have been appalled and amazed at how they will put themselves on parade, jump through whatever hoops are required of them, backstab, undermine and manipulate one another. The most amazing part to me is that when their behaviors are finally called into question, their explanation generally revolves around some notion that they “came to find true love,” and somehow this justifies their actions as acceptable…courageous…even heroic.

I can’t help but wonder; what about love of self? If you truly honored and valued yourself, would you act this way? Is it ever necessary to backstab and disrespect others if love is really your goal? Why do we not value and celebrate all types of love? I’m not naïve–I realize drama sells, but at what cost?

To be fair, “The Bachelor/Bachelorette” is not the only show that promotes this “take no prisoners, anything for love” approach. There are numerous shows with a very similar theme.

As a society, at least through the lens of the media, I sometimes think we are stuck in an adolescent fixation with “true love” to the exclusion of all the other forms of love available to us. Disagree? Look at how we try to fit all relationships into the “true love/romantic love” box, whether they fit or not. Remember all the questions and media speculation surrounding Oprah Winfrey and her best friend Gail? They have been very open about how important their friendship is to one another, and how much they value each other. I personally think those strong bonds of friendship are as beautiful and inspiring as romantic love, but instead of celebrating it for what it is, speculation and rumors fly. If they love each other, surely they must be “in love.” It sometimes feels to me that outside the parent-child bond, the only other form of love we recognize or value is romantic love.

What if we awakened to and celebrated the other types of love available to us? How might our lives open up and change? What if the love of our friends and fellow human beings was celebrated in the media the way romance is? How might issues such as bullying and hazing be affected? If we, as a society, could mature beyond the adolescent fixation with romance and embrace the many types of love relationships available to us, how would that look and feel? How might that affect the mudslinging and hit-below-the-belt antics we see so often in the media?

I don’t know for sure if it would have much of an affect, but I would like us all to step up to the challenge. I, for one, am willing to try–in the name of love.

Denise Hellekson, The Village Business Institute
Denise Hellekson, The Village Business Institute

About the blogger
Denise Hellekson provides EAP counseling, training, consulting, and crisis response services for The Village Business Institute. She has a master’s degree in Community and Rehabilitation Counseling from St. Cloud State University; and is a Licensed Independent Social Worker and a Qualified Neutral under Rule 114 of the Minnesota General Rules of Practice (Mediator). Hellekson has many years of experience in counseling, advocacy, and consulting services.