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love is revered by those who seek it, and often reviled by those
who cannot find it.
The concept, also known as amor,
was born in the romance of medieval literature and held to be an
important aspect of chivalry. Unfortunately, what we have inherited
of this idea is little more than an empty shell of the original
concept. It lacks the contributing components of chivalry which
make it real. Because of this, we hold an incomplete understanding
of one of the most beautiful experiences that a man or woman can
ever know. When the implied expectations fail, instead of asking
why, people become disenchanted and turn their backs on it. They
do not see what they are doing wrong.
In medieval times, amor was elevated
to the status of an ideal through its association with the biblical
declaration that God is love. This suggested a moral
autonomy that clerics frowned upon during the Middle Ages, but had
trouble condemning. For those who experienced such love, the life-changing
experience could almost be described as sacramental.
Amor did not happen without cause.
There were definite prerequisites. It occurred between chivalrous
knights and ladies who believed in high ideals. The principles they
embraced shaped their entire perspective. Not only did it provide
the concept, and therefore the possibility, of this kind of love,
it gave the discipline to express those ideals in everyday living.
Chivalry provided the building blocks
for romantic love. Knights were taught to be honest, loyal, dedicated,
just, and to honor all women. These vital elements made romantic
love not only possible, but real. They also recognized and honored
the complimentary virtues of male/female relationships .
Loyalty, honor and truth were not
just words to these people. They were not ploys meant for seduction
alone. They defined the honorable mentality of those who embraced
Today we equate romantic love with
the initial attraction between the sexes, when the hormones run
wild and lead to obsession. Romance is relegated to the courtship
phase, when each partner tries to impress the other. Our movies,
literature and anti-heroes reflect this shallow understanding. The
stories conveniently end when the couple finally comes together
or gets married.
Our template does not include the
continuation. It does not tell us how to fuel romantic love beyond
the point of "boy gets girl."
The man of chivalry knows that romantic
love, if it is true, is not a fire that burns quickly and then disappears.
It comes from seeing that special person without illusion, and responding
with full commitment. He sees the freshness of her existence every
time he looks at her, year after year. He sees her unique qualities
and revels in the experience. The commitment is for life, because
it is life.
The steadfast ideals of chivalry support
such bonding through attention, dedication and continued partnership.
There can be no other woman for this man. She fulfills him, and
he fulfills her. They are gentle to each other, defend each other,
protect each other. Each contributes a good deal more than 50%.
They give each other space when necessary, but always spring back
to that initial warmth and comfort.
It is said that a good marriage takes
work. While on the surface that may be true, for the couple deeply
in love, it is not work. It is the happy compulsion of their inner
From another perspective, romantic
love can be viewed as the final test of chivalry. Nothing
is more personally demanding, or fulfilling, than being true to
your own ideals in a daily relationship with someone of another
gender. Manhood will be truly tested for what it is. The woman you
love is not one of the boys. She is your special other, filled with
mystery, the planet around which you spin. You serve as her partner
and protector. Her welfare comes before your own.
The romances tell us that the woman
you love will provide you with the inspiration to live right and
do your very best at all times. This is an incredible contribution
to chivalry that must not be taken lightly.
Remember, she is not your slave or
servant. In the manly sense of willingly placing your strength and
dedication at her disposal, you are hers. If you choose your lover
right, she will never take advantage of this, but appreciate it
fully and reciprocate with her unique qualities in return. There
is certitude here. You can put your faith in this kind of love
one of the many blessings of true amor.
If truth and commitment are your guiding
principles, there are no distorted illusions in this. True love
is the obliteration of illusion. As a commitment, it requires a
certain maturity and careful attention when choosing a compatible
It all starts with who you are and
what you believe in. I cannot stress this enough.
Be prepared. Women tend to be more
prepared than men for long-term relationships. When entering into
one, men need to surrender some of their much vaulted independence.
For what? For the warmth and tenderness
and magic that defines true bliss. This does not mean there will
not be problems. What it means is that you will have a loving partner
at your side to deal with them.
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