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So, what choice do we have? We realize how unhappy romantic love is, but what else is there? All of us have experienced the way the bubble pops in romantic relationships, and the ensuing disappointment and disillusionment. We say we have fallen out of love. We begin to feel the pointlessness of the fantasy and we see the lover as a stranger or even an enemy. We feel so lonely and hurt.

But disappointment is simply the flip side of romantic love. In both cases we are so totally wrapped up with our own fantasy that we never really see the other person. We don't see the person we're in love with; we don't see the person we're breaking up with. Both situations are impersonal. Marge Piercy describes it this way in her poem, "Simple-song":

When we are going toward someone we say

you are just like me

your thoughts are my brothers

word matches word

how easy to be together.

When we are leaving someone we say

how strange you are

we cannot communicate

we can never agree

how hard, hard and weary to be together.

We are not different or alike

but each strange in his leather body

sealed in skin and reaching out clumsy hands

and loving is an act

that cannot outlive

the open hand

the open eye

the door in the chest standing open.

Disappointment is the more fruitful side of the coin because it occurs when our ambition and fantasy about the relationship become bankrupt. Disappointment could be the beginning of a true relationship. There is a kind of loss of innocence in disappointment, which can lead to the appreciation of the lover for who he is—beyond fantasy.


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