- The 10 statements listed below represent different levels of harmony in relationship, listed from lower to higher. Read and select the statement which most accurately describes the current status of your relationship.
- If you want more information or examples regarding any level, click Read More.
- Once you have identified the present level of your relationship, learn how to raise your relationship to a higher level. Applying these strategies seriously is sure to generate significant results in a short period of time. See Strategies to Increase Harmony in Your Relationship
- If you are not fully satisfied with the results you obtain by applying the strategies, Submit your problem and describe your situation so that IRES can provide you personalized expert advice for improving your relationship.
- If you already enjoy a very high level of harmony in your relationship, assess your relationship on the Scale of Romance or see the Unfailing Strategies for Love & Romance.
How harmonious is your relationship?
1. Opposition: Our relationship is characterized by shouting, mean accusations, deceit, or threats of violence which are becoming increasingly negative and destructive. Partners at this level see and relate to one another as opposites and irreconcilable contradictions. Read More
2. Conflict: Our relationship is characterized by frequent quarrels, anger, resentment, and emotional confrontations, which make the overall relationship very unpleasant. Partners at this level relate to each other through fear, suspicion, resentment and mutual accusation. Read More
3. Domination: We quarrel intensely on occasion, then make up again after some time and things go back to routine. There is a constant struggle of will between the partners. One or both partners try to dominate each other and make the other person change. Read More
4. Reaction: We feel frequent irritation and an underlying tension between us that permeates all aspects of our relationship. Partners are extremely sensitive to each other's words and behavior and react strongly to what they find disagreeable. Read More
5. Judgment: Even when we strongly disagree, we do so without intense emotion or personal reaction, then quickly put the issue behind us. Disharmony expresses in a more subtle form as teasing, making fun of one another, mockery or sarcasm. Read More
6. Compromise: We have learned to discuss and disagree without disturbance to the underlying positive feeling in our relationship. Partners maintain good manners and behavior at all times. Read more
7. Tolerance: Disagreements are mild and rare and never dampen the strong bond of positive feeling between us. Partners may not always fully agree or appreciate each other, but they have learned to accept and become tolerant of their differences. Read More
8. Appreciation: Both of us actively strive to accommodate the other person's point of view and accept whatever will please the other. Partners have learned to take each other’s point of view and to genuinely appreciate the truth, value and validity in it. Read More
9. Freedom: Our disagreements remind us of our complementary natures and individual uniqueness and bring us even closer together. Partners feel an unvarying and intense goodwill for one another. They have the infinite patience needed to give each other complete freedom to express their individuality. Read More
10. Complementarity: Our relationship is one of ever-increasing joy of harmonious energies. Partners at this level relate to each other through pure self-giving that expects nothing in return. They recognize each other as a spiritual complement that fulfill and completes them. Read More
Learn more about each of the ten levels with detailed explanations, examples and movie videos
Learn more about each of the ten levels with detailed explanations, examples and movie videos
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The highest state of romance is one of inexpressible wonder, novelty and adventure in which love becomes absolute, unconditional and universal, and life thrills with the marvel of a divine mystery. It is an ever-expanding state in which wanting, taking, demanding, expecting, and possessiveness cease to exist. Ecstatic joy is the true hallmark of spiritual romance. That ecstasy can be attained only through total self-giving and self-forgetfulness in which the lovers are lost in the moment, oblivious of everything but love. The intensity of spiritual romance may be too great and lofty for human relationships to sustain, but it is possible for lovers to elevate their relationship to that level in peak moments that become life changing and unforgettable. At those rare moments one senses that everything that happens to us is an essential experience on our path to fulfillment. Spiritual romance is at once the highest and the most intense of all romantic experiences. It fills the mind and heart with ecstatic delight and saturates the nerves and body with honey-like sweetness.
The relationship between Radha and Krishna crosses the boundary between the human and divine, elevating human emotions to the spiritual plane and expressing the utter purity and ecstatic delight of the spirit in human life. In the Bhagavata Purana, Krishna is depicted as the divine child, the avatar born on earth and raised as a cowherd in the forests of Vrindavan. The lovely Gopi milkmaids are his childhood playmates with whom he gambols and on whom he is constantly playing mischievous pranks. Of them all Radha occupied a special place, feeling for him a passionately devotional love of pure and complete self-giving and surrender. Young Krishna’s life in the forest with Radha, calling to her with the heavenly music of his flute, is a symbol of life as a miraculous divine play, lila.
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Idealistic romance is a movement that releases intense, selfless, positive ecstatic energy directed in adoration of another person and devoted entirely to their happiness. Idealistic love is incapable of expectation, bargaining, domination, complaining, doubt or suspicion of any kind. This is not the adoration of puppy love, but the adoration of that which is most noble, uplifting and godlike in another person. It can only be felt by and for one who has the highest values of truthfulness, generosity and self-giving. When admiration develops into adoration, one loses the capacity to be conscious.
Many works of fiction have been written about sex, courting and marriage, but very few about real romance. The Viziers of Bassora by Sri Aurobindo comes closest to portraying the poetic beauty, ecstatic delight, strength, courage and selfless abandonment of pure adoration. The hero in the story is a young Arab named Nureddene, the son of a nobleman who served the King of Bassora. He is handsome, noble and full of mischievous delight. The heroine is a Persian slave girl of incomparable beauty and angelic charm named Anice-aljalice, who was raised and educated to be a fit companion for a king. Nureddene’s father is commissioned to find a magnificent slave for the king. He purchases Anice on the King’s behalf for an enormous sum and takes her to his home for safekeeping. When Nureddene and Anice cast eyes on each other by accident, they are lost to the rest of the world. To Nureddene, wealth, social status and his very life have no value without Anice. The king is furious when he learns that his would-be slave girl has been taken by Nureddene. The lovers flee for their lives and seek refuge and mercy from the great Caliph in Baghdad. So pure and intense is their devotion for one another, that the Caliph himself is forced to submit to the supremacy of their love. He restores their rights and banishes those who conspired against them. It is a story of conflict, danger, adventure, the threat of death, the very conditions in which real romance flourishes. Their mutual adoration has a aura of spiritual purity combined with the richest, most intense earthly delight. A romantic tale, perhaps, but one which beautifully portrays the power of pure adoration to conquer over all obstacles. Learn unfailing strategies to rise up the scale of romance in your relationship
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At its rarefied heights human love discards and transcends social conventions, ethical standards—all that we consider most natural and characteristic of human nature. It approaches and attains extraordinary emotional intensities and sentiments of courage, nobility, purity, goodness and spiritual perfection. Though love is universally inspiring, we are apt to dismiss its most lofty expressions as tales of imaginative fiction.
Rose & Jack (Titanic)
It is almost unfortunate that the story of Rose Bukater and Jack Dawson depicted in Titanic was set amongst such magnificent surroundings and such a dramatic historical event. The sheer intensity of the circumstances and splendor of the cinematography tends to distract our attention from the beauty and grandeur of the momentary relationship between a beautiful, 17 year old socialite and a vagabond artist. It is true that the circumstances of their meeting on the maiden voyage of Titanic, just a few days before it sank, add color and intensity to their short-lived romance, but the essential character of their relationship was defined by who they were and how they related to one another, rather to the circumstances in which they met.
In April 1912, Rose is returning from Europe with her fiancée Cal Hockley and her mother in company with many of the rich and famous of their day. Her father died leaving them a prestigious name, but no money to support the luxurious lifestyle to which they were accustomed. Therefore, her mother presses her to sacrifice herself for the good of the family, by agreeing to marry Cal, whom she does not love or even like very much. As a token of his commitment, Cal presents her with a fabulous blue diamond pendant. To him, she is another beautiful object to add to his collection. Rose feels suffocated by her mother’s pretentions, her fiancé’s arrogance, the dead conventional formality of high society and the meaningless life being pressed upon her. In rebellion she rushed to the stern of the ship and contemplates suicide. Jack sees her passing by, suspects her intentions, and intervenes just in time to save her life when she slips off the edge of the ship.
Their fortuitous meeting leads quickly to intimate friendship and romance. Jack seems to understand her better than she herself does. Perceiving a remarkable strength in her character that refuses to accept the fate imposed by society, he counsels her not to sell her soul for respect or security, abandoning the freedom she is entitled to inherit. Her whole being expands in joy at his words and responds to his affection with gratitude and passion. What draws them to one another is neither childhood infatuation or sexual attraction. It is love of a very high order. Although they have known each other but a few days, they are drawn together by such powerful bonds of devotion that each proves willing to sacrifice their own life for the sake of the other. There is no higher test of self-giving imaginable.
At the peak of their passion, the Titanic hits an iceberg and begins the journey that will soon take it to the bottom of the sea. Meanwhile out of jealousy, Cal has Jack placed under arrest on a false charge of stealing the blue diamond and locked in a cabin on the lower level of the ship. As the ship takes on water and everyone rushes for lifeboats, Rose risks her life to hunt for Jack and frees him from confinement just moments before the lower deck floods. Jack leads her up to the main deck and convinces her to get into one of the few remaining lifeboats, promising to follow, but knowing full well there are no more boats to take him. Reluctantly she gets into the lifeboat and then jumps out again, refusing to leave without him. When the Titanic goes under, Jack manages to place Rose on a floating doorframe, saving her life while he freezes to death in the water. Rose survives, takes on Jack’s last name and starts a new life for herself. Narrating the story when she is past 100 years old, she relates how their few moments together changes the course of her entire life and how she has spent the last eight decades living up to the promise she made to Jack during his last moments.
Jane Austen’s novel has survived for two centuries as a preeminent love story because it depicts a level of romantic fulfillment rarely realized in life or literature. Fitzwilliam Darcy belongs to the highest level of aristocracy in England and shares the arrogant pride and common prejudices of his class about those of lower rank in the social hierarchy. But when he meets Elizabeth Bennet, the daughter of a country gentleman and his attractive but uncultured, middle class wife, Darcy’s value system is turned upside down. In spite of his social attitudes, he finds himself powerfully attracted by her energy, refined beauty, intelligence, wit, strength and individuality. Struggling against this growing attraction, he forces himself to keep a distance from her. But when life brings them together unexpectedly at his aunt’s estate in another part of the country, he is no longer able to resist the passionate love he feels for her. Explaining the reservations he had regarding her family and social status that he had to overcome in proposing to her, he asked her to marry him, under the impression that his handsome appearance, great wealth and high social standing would be more than enough to win her acceptance.
Darcy’s proposal surely would have been enough to persuade most women, but Elizabeth had a mind of her own. Far in advance of the women of her day, her ideas of marriage were romantic rather than social or materialistic, like those of Jane Austen herself. Elizabeth was not one to marry for security or status. She sought a partner who she could deeply respect for his high values, admire for his generous character and love for his capacity to give himself in love. Unknown to Darcy, she had acquired a strong prejudice against him, partly the result of his actions to prevent the marriage of her sister Jane with his best friend Bingley and partly due to false accusations made by Wickham against him. Thus, when he asked for her hand, she strongly rebuffed him. When pressed by him for an explanation, she pointed out the defects in his character and behavior that made him unacceptable and declared that he is the last man on earth she would ever marry. Indeed, after such a violent confrontation, it appeared impossible that they should ever again even speak to each other.
Surprised, angry and offended, Darcy withdrew to brood over what he had heard. The following day he wrote a letter to her addressing the objections she had raised, acknowledging what he believed to be true and defending himself against those he knew to be false. After that they went their separate ways thinking they would never meet again. But in the months that followed, Darcy’s love for Elizabeth grew even stronger. He admitted the truth in her accusations and decided to correct himself. He completely shed his proud behavior and arrogant attitudes. When he and Elizabeth met by chance nine months later, she was stunned by his remarkable transformation. He greeted her and her middle class relatives with the utmost respect and consideration. When her youngest sister, Lydia, eloped with his arch-enemy, Wickham, he went to extraordinary effort and expense to save her reputation and that of her whole family from ruin. He reversed his objections to the marriage of Bingley and Jane. All this he did without expecting or asking for anything, out of love for Elizabeth. He shed his vain egoism and underwent mortifying experiences, then tried to conceal his good deeds from Elizabeth. His devotion for her was so powerful that he actually transformed himself into the ideal lover Elizabeth aspired for. When with much trepidation he renewed his proposal, she accepted him with joyous gratitude.
Mental love is higher than affection and admiration because it is founded on an idealistic conception of relationship and on the ennobling qualities the partners discover in each other. Darcy’s devotion rises still higher. His is idealized emotional love based on sentiments that transcend conceptual limits. It needs no reason or justification. Like the love portrayed in Shakespeare’s sonnets, he cherishes her for her intrinsic value and delights in her very existence. His love takes pure joy in self-giving without asking or expecting anything in return. Such a love flowers where there is no expectation, just the urge to please the other or see the other happy. It is undemanding and does not even ask to be recognized. Devotional love is symbolized by the majestic beauty of the Taj Mahal which was constructed to immortalize the Emperor Shah Jahan’s love for his wife Mumtaz Mahal. The most pronounced characteristic of this stage is an intense emotional sweetness issuing from knowledge of love.
Love in the Forest (As You Like It)
In this story Shakespeare depicts the intensities of devotional love between Rosalind, the daughter of the former ruler Duke Senior, and Orlando, the son of her father’s trusted retainer. When they briefly met at court for the first time, they were instantly attracted to one another. The following day Rosalind was forced to seek exile in the forest to avoid imprisonment by her uncle who has assumed power after her father’s temporary abdication. Orlando too sought refuge in the forest to escape his brother’s plot to kill him. There he meets Rosalind, who is disguised as a young man to conceal her identity. Ignorant that he is indeed in the presence of his beloved, Orlando is lost in ecstatic celebration of his love for Rosalind. While intensely emotional, their love is characterized by high poetic idealism of selfless devotion. Rosalind possesses the insight and maturity to understand and laugh at the folly of young love, even her own. Yet at the same time her mind and heart are completely devoted to Orlando. In spite of the tragic circumstances that have led them both into exile, they become so absorbed in their mutual adulation that the loss of family, wealth and status is forgotten in the ecstatic joy of love. Intense delight is the hallmark of devotional love. The joyous atmosphere created by their love is so powerful that life itself is forced to submit and abolish their misfortune. As soon as they marry, the old duke’s kingdom is restored to him, and Orlando becomes heir apparent to the throne.
The Princess and the Count
Alexander Dumas portrays a rare and inspiring example of devotional love in his epic tale The Count of Monte Cristo. A young, talented, honest and good-natured sailor named Edmund Dantes falls passionately in love with the beautiful, orphaned Mercedes. Mercedes’ evil cousin, Fernand, who is in love with her and wants her for himself, joins in a conspiracy to have Edmund arrested and wrongly imprisoned as a traitor. After fourteen years in confinement, Edmund escapes from the prison, discovers a fabulous treasure and assumes a new identity as the eccentric Count of Monte Cristo, so he can seek vengeance against those who have wronged him. As the Count, Edmund later saves the life of a beautiful, noble Turkish princess, Haydee, who had been sold into slavery by the treachery of the very same Fernand, who has since married Mercedes. Edmund takes Haydee under his fatherly protection and extends to her all the royal treatment she ever enjoyed in her youth. Later he publicly exposes Fernand’s treachery and is challenged by Mercedes’ son Albert to a duel. An expert marksman, Edmund is sure of winning until Mercedes comes and pleads with him for the life of her son. Honor prevents Edmund from backing out of the duel so he decides to allow Albert to kill him. He draws up a will assigning his entire fortune to Haydee, who approaches him as he is writing it. When he tells her that she will be heir to his entire fortune, Haydee grabs the will and tears it into shreds without the slightest hesitation, saying that if he dies she will surely die with him. Then she faints. Such is the intensity of the pure devotion she has silently nurtured for Edmund.
Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam
Rarely do we encounter instances of pure devotion in human relationships. Love is an ideal and that ideal is founded on a self-less delight in the happiness of one’s beloved. Self-giving is the highest form of human action, because it is to recognize something more important than one’s own egoistic personal satisfaction. Devotional love is beautifully depicted in an extraordinary movie about a woman who is prevented from marrying the man she loves, only to discover that the man she does marry is a living embodiment of selfless love. Nandini (Aishwarya Rai) is the daughter of Pandit Darbar, renowned proponent of Indian classical music.Nandini has been brought up with more freedom and education than her siblings, as she is the most beloved of Pandit Darbar. In this carefree life enters Sameer (Salman Khan), a boy of Indo-Italian parentage who wants to learn Indian classical music from Pandit Darbar. Nandini takes a dislike to Sameer, and the two keep playing pranks on each other, but soon realise they are in love. Sameer is kicked out of the house and asked never to contact Nandini again as fee for his education(Guru Dakshina). Nandini's parents have arranged to get her married to Vanraj (Ajay Devgan) - who had fallen in love with Nandini during her cousin's wedding. On the wedding night, Vanraj realises that Nandini is not herself, and tries to ask her why she is not responding to his love ? Nandini stays quiet, but is caught reading Sameer's letters when she is alone.He is very angry at first, but later accepts the reality that his wife is in love with another man. He shows the ultimate understanding by taking Nandini to Italy and help her search for Sameer, much to the dislike of his own parents. During their search, they face many problems and dilemmas and slowly Nandini gets to see what Vanraj really is like. she sees Vanraj selflessly devoting himself to care for her during her stay in hospital after an incident. Eventually they get news about Sameer (through his mother - played by Helen), and Vanraj arranges for Nandini to meet Sameer, on the night of his debut concert. His job done, Vanraj says goodbye to Nandini and walks away. Nandini and Sameer meet, but Nandini's feelings for him have changed. She reflects on the unwavering love and devotion that Vanraj showed throughout her stay with him, and realises that she loves him. She tells sameer in what esteem she holds her husband and parts with him to go after Vanraj.
Real love is a pure and special vibration between people that differs from the intense longings and passions many describe by the word. It is difficult to sustain vital forms of love without strong positive encouragement from the other person, whereas mental love does not depend on reciprocity. The power of Mind arises from an organization of ideas. Mental love is based on an idealistic conception of what love is and a perception of idealized values in the other person. Mental love gives rise to unwavering loyalty. It involves a lasting commitment to the other person which does not depend on circumstances, personal contact or even the response of the other person. We can love another person as an individual only when we fully recognize and respect the ways they are unique and different from ourselves and value them for those differences rather than trying to change them or mold them into our ideal image. Mental love may lack the intense sensations of previous stages, but it brings a lightness, sweetness and refinement of feeling that is uplifting and more deeply fulfilling.
An Angelic Goodness (Gone with the Wind)
The relationship between Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara is glorified in the public imagination as the quintessence of romance. But the real love story in Gone with the Wind is not between these two selfish, self-centered characters whose passion torments and ultimately ruins the happiness of both. It is rather the quiet, idealized love between Ashley and Melanie Wilkes that depicts the true qualities and power of love to nurture, save and protect, even in times of extraordinary upheaval. Scarlett has set her heart on marrying the refined and cultured Ashley. But he chooses instead his mild-mannered and frail cousin Melanie and marries her just before the outbreak of the Civil War. Then he is called to serve in the Southern army and they are separated for the duration of the war.
Melanie lacks the captivating beauty, energy, vitality, and feminine wiles of Scarlett. But her gentle heart is made of pure goodness and possesses extraordinary power of goodwill that protects Ashley through the long years of fighting and imprisonment. She combines goodness and goodwill with a capacity for total self-giving to those she loves, which makes her one of the most remarkable women in life or literature. Incapable of a selfish act, she yearns only for the well-being and happiness of her husband, family and friends. Incapable of suspicion or recriminations against anyone, she loves Scarlett even though she knows of Scarlett’s secret yearning for her husband and on her death bed urges Scarlett to care for Ashley. The suffering and destruction wrought by Civil War leave little scope for pleasure or happiness of any description, but through it all Melanie’s unshakeable loyalty and commitment to those she loves creates a cocoon of sweetness and affection which nurtures and protects. Ashley is devastated by her death. Only after her passing, does Scarlett realize the immense power of her idealized love.
A Queen’s Love (First Knight)
Can a person truly love more than one person? In the movie First Knight, Lady Guinevere is torn between her deep, idealistic admiration for the good and noble King Arthur and her passionate emotional attraction to valiant Lancelot. Her love and loyalty to her husband King are juxtaposed to the yearning of her heart and body for the knight who has twice saved her life. Her love of Arthur is the mind’s idealism which cherishes all that is true and noble. Her love of Lancelot is yearning vital-emotional passion. Though very different in nature, Guinevere’s love and loyalty to Arthur are as real and compelling as her powerful physical and vital attraction to Lancelot. A human being is capable of loving more than one person, but few have the energy and intensity to maintain it. In this case, Arthur dies so she can live out her love with Lancelot.
Behind every successful man there is a woman, is a well known saying that reflects a deeper truth. Relationships founded upon mutual recognition, respect and admiration provide a firm and stable foundation for high and lasting achievement. Affection is of the heart. It is intense, but that intensity cannot be sustained without a strong element of admiration for the other person’s attributes, character and values. Admiration elevates and ennobles affection. When a woman knows that her partner is completely truthful, incapable of deceit, it generates a deep, endearing trust that adds sweetness to their affection and sustains the relationship through turbulent times. When a man knows his partner will never fault him for making mistakes or reject him for failure, the relationship becomes unshakably strong and affection matures into deeper love.
The movie Cinderella Man portrays the true story of boxer Jim Braddock. The movie depicts the years of poverty and suffering that he and his family underwent during the Great Depression when injuries forced him to give up a promising boxing career and work as a longshoreman to feed his family. Behind the scenes he was supported by his wife Mae, who remained unshakably committed to him and her children during years of great physical and emotional hardship. Her intense and unwavering affection for Jim are founded on a deep admiration for his good values—his sense of responsibility to his family, his honesty and his innate goodness. His character backed by her deep admiration gave Jim the strength, protection and courageous determination needed to stage a remarkable comeback, when against ten to one odds he defeated Max Baer to become heavyweight champion of the world in 1935.
Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner are close relatives of the Bennet family in Pride and Prejudice. They are both intelligent, sensible, good natured people. But more than the similarity in their natures, it is their love and admiration for one another that stands out. When Mrs. Gardiner invites her niece, Jane, to stay with her in London, or her other niece, Elizabeth, to join them on a monthly long vacation, she does not even need to consult her husband before, so deep is his trust in her judgment and discretion. And rightly so, for he admires his wife’s good motives and always approves of her decisions. When Mr. Gardiner’s work in London necessitates a change of their travel plans, he does not need to manage a wife’s disappointment or anger. Mrs. Gardiner accepts the change and eagerly looks forward to the altered plan, which takes Elizabeth to Pemberley where she meets and ultimately marries Darcy. When Mr. Gardiner promises to assist his sister’s family in finding their youngest daughter, Lydia, who has eloped, he knows his wife will support him, even if it requires a very substantial expenditure of money in order to ensure his niece’s marriage. The good values found in each of the partners and their mutual respect and admiration make their relationship harmonious and joyful. That relationship served as a strong foundation for Mr. Gardiner’s success in business and the prosperity that has come to the family through his enterprise. It also enabled them to rise socially. When Elizabeth marries Darcy, the Gardiners gain admission to the highest level of English society.
The Chauffeur’s Daughter (Sabrina)
Sabrina is the story of an exceptional young woman who is the daughter of the Larrabee family’s chauffeur. Her father, Thomas Fairchild, is a kind, affectionate widower who chose driving as his occupation so that he would have more time for reading. Sabrina Fairchild is a shy, awkward teenager madly infatuated with the Larrabee’s younger son David, a strikingly handsome and charming playboy who has the pick of New England society women longing for his attentions. His older brother, Linus, is a hard-nosed, serious businessman who has expanded a successful family business into the world's largest communications company, while David cavorts with one woman after another.
After a year studying in Paris, Sabrina returns to the Larrabee’s Long Island estate transformed into a mature, strikingly beautiful woman who captivates David at their first meeting. David suddenly wants to break off his engagement to Elizabeth Tyson, an attractive physician whose father is negotiating a mega-merger with Linus. Alarmed that David’s change of heart could jeopardize his deal with the Tysons, Linus intervenes to woo Sabrina away from David so that David’s marriage and the Tyson deal can be completed. Initially Sabrina is unable to believe that Linus could be interested in her or any woman, but when he explains that she has opened his eyes to all he has been missing in life, her heart begins to melt. The idea of saving Linus from a meaningless life in pursuit of more wealth through the joy, love and affection of intimacy deeply appeals to her heart’s goodness and mind’s idealism. Although he lacks the charming manners of David, she discovers a deeper value in Linus as a human being and begins to feels an ennobling love for him that is both intense and uplifting.
At the last moment, Linus confesses to her his real intentions and arranges for her to be reunited with David. Unable to switch her affections from one man to another on a moment’s notice, she decides to go back to Paris to nurse her broken heart and build a new life. Before her departure, her father reveals that he has earned $2 million on the stock market by listening to what was spoken by the Larrabees in their car and that money is intended for her. When David learns that Linus is capable of sacrificing the deal of a lifetime for the sake of the chauffeur’s daughter, he realizes that Linus must feel a love for Sabrina that he himself is incapable of feeling for any woman. So he commits himself to marry Elizabeth, takes over negotiations on the Tyson deal and dispatches Linus to Paris where he is reunited with Sabrina.
Linus is hardly a romantic figure, but he comes to feel a very deep admiration and affection for Sabrina that he did not believe he was capable of. She is an exceptional woman capable of an idealistic love combined with rich emotional intensity. It is significant that she inherits substantial wealth even before Linus decides to go after her. Her rich emotional goodness is golden. It brings prosperity to her father and to the whole Larabee family.
The Countess and the Earl (Lady Anna)
Admiration arises from awareness and respect for the other person’s good character and high values. Love based on admiration is not diminished by passage of time or physical separation. It can overcome the greatest of challenges as it did in Anthony Trollope’s novel Lady Anna. Josephine Murray is a beautiful young woman without money who marries an aging and disreputable earl for his title and money, only to be told later that the earl was already married to an Italian woman so that Josephine could never claim either property or aristocratic lineage. Refusing to live with the earl on any other terms, Josephine and her young daughter Anna take refuge in the home of a tailor who takes pity on her misfortune and expends his entire life savings in legal proceedings to help her reclaim her rightful position as Countess and heir to the deceased earl’s property. Anna forms a close friendship with the tailor’s son Daniel. Unknown to their parents, they gradually fall in love and Anna pledges to marry Daniel when she comes of age.
Meanwhile legal proceedings rage between Josephine and the earl’s other living descendent, Anna’s handsome cousin Frederick, who seeks the earl’s property as a fitting complement to the title which he has recently inherited. Both sides of the family conclude that the best possible solution is to marry Anna and Frederick so that property and title can remain in the family. The two cousins are both attracted to one another, but Anna remains true to her pledge of marrying the tailor’s son. Although she is captivated by Frederick’s graceful appearance and fine behavior, Anna greatly admires the idealism of Daniel and his father who have sacrificed so much for her.
When her mother discovers that the only remaining obstacle to victory in her two decade long quest for legitimacy is a silly marriage pledge between two children, she exerts intense pressure on Anna to go back on her promise. Anna feels intense loyalty and gratitude to Daniel and refuses to break her pledge. When she refuses to give in to the charms of Frederick or the pressure of family, Josephine shoots and wounds Daniel in a fit of desperation. Ultimately Anna’s claim to the property and the title are upheld and she marries the tailor’s son. Out of sheer generosity, she offers half of her enormous inheritance to Frederick, and thereby heal the breech that had divided the family. Anna chose emotional admiration and loyalty over vital attraction and social acceptance.
Rose & Gregory (The Mirror has two faces)
In a story that goes to extremes to illustrate a profound truth about romantic relationships, Gregory Larkin, a handsome but socially awkward math professor, seeks to escape from the lure of sexual attraction which has been the cause of so many failed relationships for him in the past. So he advertizes for a woman who seeks the purity of an intimate relationship free of sexuality. Homely looking English professor Rose Morgan is introduced to Gregory by her sister without knowing anything about his unusual quest and they strike up a close relationship. Rose is strongly attracted by Greg’s appearance, charmed by his crazy notions, flattered by the interest of a handsome man, and secretly hoping that Greg will fulfill her long frustrated dreams of romantic love. She decides to play by his rules. They marry and maintain a platonic relationship. Over time they develop deep respect, appreciation and affection for one another. Gregory is delighted. Rose is frustrated. Finally she asks him to sleep with her. He agrees then refuses at the last moment, because he feels the old, uncontrollable lust overwhelming his higher feelings of affection. Rose feels rejected and leaves him, then refuses to answer his calls while he is on a summer lecture tour in Europe. Rose goes on a diet, resorts to makeup and changes her style of dressing. When he returns he finds her transformed into a sexually alluring woman. Instead of being pleased, he is terrified and distressed. He wants the old homely Rose back whom he can love for her mind and heart, rather than lust after for her body. Finally they come to terms. She recognizes the depth of his love and acceptance of her. He accepts sexuality as a natural part of truly romantic love. The story is fanciful, but the truth it expresses carries a message for all those who long for true and lasting romance.
Affection is emotional enjoyment of the other person. Affection emanates from the heart. Energy expressing in our emotional center generates intense feelings of affection. At the physical level there is an urge to hold, grasp, and possess the other person in order to derive security, comfort or pleasure from the interaction. At the emotional level there is an urge to give oneself to the other person in order to please and make the other person happy. When affection is very physical, it can be possessive and demanding. True emotional affection for another person is incapable of shouting, anger or meanness of any kind. It is only the vital ego that wants to dominate which can try to hurt the other person. The higher and purer the affection, the less the intensity of the sexual urge. At the same time physical intimacy becomes far sweeter and uplifting because the intensity comes from the pure enjoyment of one’s affection for the other person.
Frank & Mary
In Dr. Thorne, Anthony Trollope portrays the love story of Frank Gresham and Mary Thorne. Frank is the descendant of a long line of Greshams, the richest landowners in their county who had served as its representative in Parliament for many generations. His mother came from a titled and far wealthier aristocratic family. Her social and material demands were so great that Frank’s father was forced to borrow heavily on the family property and eventually to sell a large part of the estate to a self-made Sir Roger Scatherd, a millionaire businessman. Gresham’s debts to Sir Roger continued to mount, jeopardizing what remained of Frank’s inheritance. Mary Thorne was the illegitimate, adopted niece of Dr. Thorne, the Greshams’ family physician. Both Frank and Mary believed she was actually the doctor’s daughter, though Frank’s parents knew and kept the secret during years when the children grew up together as playmates. When Frank came of age he announced his intention of marrying beautiful Mary. His mother vigorously protested and sent Frank away, arguing that Frank must marry a wealthy woman in order to restore the family’s financial fortunes. In spite of her ardent love for Frank, Mary did all she could to discourage Frank from displeasing his parents. But Frank remained true and adamant in his love for her, even when he was informed that she was illegitimate as well as penniless. Frustrating all his mother’s attempts to prevent it, Frank finally declared his intention of marrying Mary. Then it was revealed by Dr. Thorne that Mary was actually the niece and heir to the deceased Roger Scatherd’s enormous fortune, which meant that she already held legal title to more than half of the Gresham property. Frank’s unwillingness to renounce his love for Mary in spite of intense social pressure and the prospect of ruin, and Mary’s unwillingness to accept his love for fear of the harm and disgrace it might bring on him and his family, reflect the depth of affection with which they loved one another. The sincerity of their feelings enabled each of them to willingly sacrifice for the good of the other. More significantly, it had the strength to fully restore Frank’s family heritage and Mary’s social legitimacy. Love has that power over life.
Inman & Ada (Cold Mountain)
When it gives rise to physical or vital attraction, love at first sight may last only as long as the partners are in physical or social contact. But when it touches the deeper emotions of the heart, even a few moments together can give birth to an affection that outlives years of separation and silence. It forms an emotional bridge of connectivity that can enable the lovers to overcome incredible obstacles to reunite. In Cold Mountain, a beautiful city-bred preacher’s daughter named Ada Monroe meets a shy, handsome woodworker named Inman in a secluded rural part of North Carolina at the outbreak of the Civil War. Though they exchange only a few formal words, their hearts respond to one another. When Inman enlists to fight for the South, they exchange photographs and a single parting kiss. After the death of her father, Ada finds herself helpless, defenseless and pursued by a local bully named Teague. Daily she voices a heart-felt prayer for Inman to return. The sins he has committed in battle make Inman feel unworthy of her love. Only partly recovered from a serious wound received in battle, he risks death for desertion and travels the long dangerous road back to Cold Mountain. At one point he is given shelter by a beautiful young woman with child, who offers herself to him. In spite of feeling a strong physical attraction for her, his longing for Ada prevents him from responding to her invitation. Inman eventually meets Ada and after she conceives with a child, he then kills Teague before being mortally wounded himself. His love was powerful enough to find her and protect her and leave her with a son to raise. The strength of their affection could achieve this much despite the extreme social turmoil and destruction of war.
Immortal Infatuation (Romeo and Juliet)
We find a similar instance of intense emotional love in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Here too, the young lovers were separated by powerful social barriers because they came from traditionally warring families. Here too, the lovers cared only for one another and threw aside the objections of family and society. Why then did their love end in the tragedy rather than blissful fulfillment? In this case, the lovers were extremely young, very impulsive and desperately impatient. Unlike Frank and Mary, they lacked the patience and maturity to wait for circumstances to improve. Patience requires strength. Their love had intensity but no strength to wait and persevere. Impulsiveness and impatience can never serve as the basis for accomplishment in life or romance. True romance is forgetful of self. It requires sacrifice not wild, reckless or desperate demands. It is willing to give with no thought of return and regards only the happiness and fulfillment of the beloved.
Lancelot & Guinevere (First Knight)
Lady Guinevere’s escort is attacked by a powerful warlord while she is en route to Camelot to marry the noble King Arthur. Lancelot, a wandering vagabond swordsman, rescues her from the attackers. He is instantly attracted by Guinevere’s majestic beauty and noble character. She feels the powerful lure of his physical manliness and courage, but resists his sexual advances. Lancelot arrives in Camelot just in time for her wedding with Arthur. Shortly afterwards she is kidnapped by the same warlord, who wants to gain her kingdom by blackmail. Again Lancelot single-handedly saves her. His confidence, courage and willingness for self-sacrifice move her deeply and she has to struggle not to give in to the powerful emotions that draws them to one another.
Knighted for his heroic service to the crown, Lancelot remains in Camelot, secretly nurturing an all-consuming passion for the queen. Eventually he comes to accept the ideals that Arthur stands for and decides out of respect for the King and Queen to leave Camelot forever. His acceptance of noble ideals elevates him even further in her emotions. Heartbroken to be losing him forever without ever having felt the joy of his love, she offers one kiss. Arthur discovers them embracing and is furious at their treasonous betrayal. In defense she explains that her love for both men is real and true, but different. She loves and worships Arthur with her all her heart’s purity and mind’s admiration. At the same time she feels powerfully drawn toward by a physical and vital passion elevated and ennobled by a deep emotional bond of affection and self-giving. The contrast between the two relationships brings out both the most positive aspects and two very different forms of romance.
Jerry & Dorothy (Jerry Maguire)
This movie depicts the unlikely romance between a high flying, high energy sports agent and a shy, homely accountant. After Jerry writes a memo proposing that his agency he works for adopt higher ethical standards in serving their clientele, Jerry is summarily dismissed from his lucrative job. Inspired by the courage and values espoused in his memo, Dorothy is the only employee at the firm willing to stand up for principles and follow Jerry’s lead. So she quits her job and together they establish a separate company, but manage to retain only one of Jerry’s former clients. With no income and no prospects, they struggle to make ends meet. When Jerry’s glamorous girlfriend also deserts him, he is left failed and friendless. Through it all, Dorothy remains loyal and offers unstinting support. Jerry develops a fondness for Dorothy’s son from a previous marriage, has a one-night affair with Dorothy, and then overhears her telling her sister how much she loves him. Finally Dorothy senses that Jerry is only maintaining their relationship out of sense of appreciation for the support she has offered him, so she announces that she is leaving to take a job in another city. Jerry impulsively proposes to her on the spur of the moment and they marry. Again after marriage, she feels that she and her son have trapped Jerry into a relationship that does not suit him and she decides to withdraw. After months of total failure in his work, Jerry finally has a major breakthrough when his sole client achieves superstar status and signs a huge multi-year contract. Finally vindicated in the decisions he has taken, Jerry discovers that without Dorothy his success brings him no sense of fulfillment, so he rushes back to reunite with her.
Through their relationship Jerry moves from the charms of sexual and vital attraction to discover the greater richness and sweetness of lasting affection. As in the case of Mae Braddock in Cinderella Man, Dorothy’s intense goodwill and affection are a powerful support for her lover’s high achievement.
Edward & Elinor (Sense & Sensibility)
Elinor, Marianne and Margaret are daughters of Mr. Dashwood who died leaving his wife and daughters with very little means to support themselves. Elinor develops an affection for Mr. Edward Ferrars, her sister-in-law's wealthy brother, and her feelings appear to be reciprocated. Edward has been engaged for many years to Lucy Steele, whom he met in his youthful days but does not love anymore. He wants to tell Elinor about it, but he does not find a suitable opportunity. Later Elinor hears about it from Lucy herself and is heartbroken. Though Elinor and Edward harbor strong feelings of love for one another, he feels bound by his commitment to Ms. Steele. Elinor feels resigned to accept that commitment and remain an aging spinster. Then suddenly Edward receives a letter from Lucy informing him that she has fallen in love with his brother, Robert, and they have married. Edward goes to Elinor to express his true feelings and they are reunited happily in the end.
The story vividly represents the power of pure emotions, unmixed by possessiveness, impulsive attachment, egoism or assertiveness. Elinor controls and refrains from expressing her deep affection for Edward until the power of her love removes all obstacles and brings her love to her. Her love is sharply contrast to the flighty impulsive physicality of her sister Marianne, described in Level 2.
Relationship usually begins when one is happy spending time with another, and the attraction has the seal of social approval. He may be attracted to her because of her pleasant manners and behavior. She may be attractive to him because he is considered acceptable or desirable by her friends and family. She takes a personal interest in him which makes him feel good about himself. He may be drawn to her because she is more intense, energetic, more extroverted or having some other attribute that is complementary to his own.
Jane Bennet and Charles Bingley are vitally attracted to each other. Jane is a beautiful, sweet, refined young woman. Bingley is a pleasant and happy young man. They are mutually attracted to one another by their good looks and pleasing manners. They feel lost to the world while in each other’s company. His pleasing personality and considerable wealth make him appear most eligible in the eyes of Jane’s family. Jane’s perfect demeanor wins approval from Bingley’s sisters. George Wickham, a dashing officer who charms the heart of every other female in the area has no effect on Jane. Even a year’s separation coupled with the attractions of London cannot sway Bingley’s emotions to forget her. When they come back together, she accepts him happily, almost without unquestioning his long absence. Everyone around them is struck by their quiet, contented joy and confident that their life together will be always smooth and sweet.
A relationship at this level is based on social acceptance or vital attraction to the energies of the other person. Attraction is more social or psychological than physical, though the physical element may still be prominent. We are attracted to partners who are popular or please us. If the attraction is positive and unselfish, the relationship is pleasant and enjoyable, as in the case of Jane and Bingley, who are both mild, well-mannered, likeable and always anxious to please each other. In some cases, one partner may desire to dominate the relationship or both partners may lack the self-discipline and good behavior required to sustain positive relationships. When egoism and selfishness become predominant, the initial vital attraction can degenerate into disappointment, frustration, jealousy, anger and conflict.
Growing in Love (When Harry met Sally)
When Harry met Sally depicts the psychological journey of a man and woman from casual acquaintance and sexual attraction to friendship and emotional intimacy. Harry meets Sally when they share a car ride to New York City upon graduation from the University of Chicago. A few minutes into the trip, the conversation between them becomes heatedly contentious. Harry is strongly attracted to Sally physically. Sally is repulsed by his aggressive manners and obvious sexual intentions. Over the next 13 years they meet repeatedly, then drift apart and meet again. Each passes through many failed relationships. Harry gets married and divorced. Eventually they develop a close, platonic friendship and find that they understand, like and enjoy each other’s company more than any other relationships they have been in. Finally it dawns on them that life together is far happier and more fulfilling than their other romantic pursuits and an intense intimacy grows between them.
Ben and Katie (The Story of Us)
This movie depicts a turbulent period in the relationship between Katie and Ben Jordan, fifteen years after their marriage, when they have two lovely children and a comfortable home in suburbia. He is a carefree, happy extroverted writer; she a well-organized perfectionist who takes life seriously and can only let go in his company. Initially they were attracted to one another because they were so very different. They have arrived at a point where the very attributes that originally gave liveliness and joy to the relationship have become a source of friction, tension and frequent quarrels. They have come to resent the inherited characteristics that each brings from their own family and background. Acceptance of difference has given place to impatience and intolerance. The strong physical and vital attraction that originally made them feel so strongly for one another has gradually worn thin. Although still socially popular with friends, the initial novelty of their individual differences has lost its charm and with it their patience and tolerance for one another. So they decide to separate and divorce. While carrying out that decision they discover a deeper layer of emotional attachment which they cherish and are unwilling to give up. They recognize that their differences represent strengths by which they complement and complete one another. They realize that in the course of living their lives they had forgotten that their relationship and their children are more important than anything else. Ultimately familiarity, friendship, trust and love of their children prevail and they decide to remain together.
The Robarts (Framely Parsonage)
Time and again we find in life and literature that the positive bonds of human relationship possess a commanding power over life. Mark Robarts is an English clergyman living a comfortable and prosperous life on a £900 income with his affectionate wife Fanny and two small children. They resided at Framley Parsonage under the patronage of the elderly Lady Lufton and her son Lord Lufton, who was a longtime close friend of Mr. Robarts. Having attained financial security, a loving family and social respectability at an early age, Mark aspired to climb higher and was lured by the glittering status of the English aristocracy. Though personally charming and well-educated, Mark had led a sheltered life and was ignorant of the ways of the world. As a result, he was easily duped by an aristocratic MP, Nathaniel Sowerby, who persuaded him to sign counter-guarantee on several promissory notes executed by Sowerby on the assurance that he would never be called upon to pay anything against the note. Mark eventually realizes he has been swindled and decides to accept public humiliation rather than borrowing or asking for assistance from his wealthy benefactors.
Mark is vain and foolish, but he is a responsible husband who is faithful and deeply attached to his wife and children. He now finds himself confronted with the onerous task of telling his faithful wife about his catastrophic folly and the public humiliation and severe financial straits to which the entire family would now be subjected. Very rarely in life or literature do we meet a female character like Fanny Robarts. Though a strong English woman and formed individual in her own right, in one respect Fanny resembled far more closely the fading ideal of Indian womanhood. For she considered it her highest duty and greatest privilege to stand by her husband through any ordeal, no matter how severe the trials or how much it may be of his own making. Rather than sit quietly judging him while he confessed his sins to her, she rushed over to stand by his side and demanded the right to share fully the burden that had fallen on his shoulders. Though it did not change the material consequences of his position one iota, Mark immediately felt the burden lifted from his soul by the sympathetic support of a loyal and affectionate wife. Mark and Fanny are saved from infamy and elevated by life at the very next moment when Lufton announces his determination to marry Mark’s sister Lucy. In a trice, the creditors were banished and the Robarts rose through a marriage alliance with the most distinguished family in the county.
Remember your grandparents’ routine? They woke up, without an alarm, at the same time everyday, and went about their day in a methodical fashion. Every tiny act had its time and place. They knew each other’s routine perfectly, and could anticipate the other’s behavior. Whatever it was one wanted, be it a cup of coffee, a towel, reading glasses or slippers, the other would have it ready before it was asked for. There may not have been spectacular romance, they may have had their tiffs, but even that seemed part of the day‘s script. Overall, it was a picture of security, stability, and compatibility.
Charlotte Lucas and William Collins have such a stable relationship. Already well past the age when most young woman in her day wed, Charlotte seeks marriage for the financial and social security it provides. She has no thought or hope of finding romantic love. In Collins, she sees a respectable future for herself, and she is satisfied. Having been educated at Oxford and been appointed to a lucrative position as clergyman at a young age, Collins seeks marriage as a means to round out the perfection of his social attainments. Charlotte is sensible and practical. Collins is foolish and lost in love of himself. But the two of them seek marriage for similar or complementary reasons that make them wholly compatible with one another. They each accept the other as they are. They recognize the good in one another, and do not waste their time and energy looking for flaws. Their lives are well-organized and their energies are applied constructively, resulting in a stable, harmonious relationship. Charlotte tends to the house and poultry. Collins is engaged with church activities, and spends his spare time in the garden. They are polite and formal with each other as when they socialize with neighbors. They both consider themselves fortunately and happily married. In Collins words, “We seem to have been designed for each other.”
Collins and Charlotte are an example of a positive relationship at this level, because they do not ask for or expect more and they both maintain the good manners and self-discipline needed for relationships to remain positive. Positive relationships at this level are quite easy to recognize. They are stable, consistent and permanent because they are organized on a regular basis around recurring activities such as managing a household or raising a family. They may lack the passion of the previous level but they also lack the turbulence and inconsistency. When the partners are positively related in other respects, they may feel a sense of familiarity, satisfaction and physical harmony. When the partners are in conflict or fail to be well-mannered and considerate of one another, relationships at this level can become flat, dull, boring and empty, but the routine of organized family life may still hold it together.
In these egalitarian times, we frown on references to differences in class and culture, but class and culture can be critical determinants of successful relationship. The problems of incompatibility arising from class differences are powerfully brought out in the relationship between Mr. and Mrs. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice. He is a well-educated, cultured, intelligent country gentleman with a refined mind, excellent manners and aristocratic breeding. His wife, the daughter of a middle class family, is a beautiful, energetic, empty-headed woman with a loud voice, coarse manners and impulsive behavior that often borders on vulgarity.
The two rarely see eye to eye on any subject. They express no affection for one another . She often complains to her husband, but rarely about him. In return he teases and her mocks gently but without meanness. Between them, they run a large, cheerful and smoothly functioning family and estate. They each carry out their responsibilities in an organized manner. Mrs. Bennet manages the household efficiently. She plans her dinners meticulously according to the importance of the guests. She pays attention to the last detail in her daughters’ dresses. She knows all about every eligible bachelor in the neighborhood. Her mission is to get her daughters married, and she prepares for that accomplishment much like a military general waging a major campaign.
Mr. Bennet leaves the household to his wife, takes charge of the estate and the family’s finances. He manages the farm, keeps his family from spending beyond their income, and remains the quiet figurehead of the family. He does not try to dominate his wife. She does not fight with her husband. Neither shout, dispute, criticize or hurt the other. They are not selfish, mean or cruel. They maintain a polite, well-mannered relationship both in pubic and at home. So even in the absence of real affection, the family is positive, harmonious and successful. Though very different, they share common goals and live peacefully and compatibly together.
In Dr. Thorne, Anthony Trollope depicts a successful but unfulfilling example of level 3 relationship. Squire Gresham is a large rural landowner from a distinguished family. At a young age he marries the Lady Arabella, who hails from a titled and far wealthier aristocratic family. The squire enters Parliament as an MP representing his region, as his forefathers did for generations before him. Accustomed to living extravagantly, Lady Arabella and her daughters make enormous financial demands on his estate. Gresham’s problems are aggravated when he changes political party at the instance of his wife’s family and then loses two costly election campaigns while unsuccessfully trying to regain his seat in Parliament. Having borrowed heavily on the family property, he is eventually forced to sell a substantial portion of the estate. Still the debts continue to mount.
The relationship between the squire and his wife is polite and well-mannered on the surface, but marred by an undercurrent of complaint, criticism, and recrimination. Seemingly oblivious of the misfortune that she and her family have brought to her husband by her extravagant behavior, Arabella faults him and constantly decries the unreasonable restraints on her life style. He silently blames her for her arrogance and blind selfishness. The daughters sympathize with their mother, the only son Frank with his father. Through the years the squire becomes increasingly lonely and depressed by his failure to sustain the family property. Though they maintain civil behavior in public and conduct household affairs without open dispute, their relationship has long since lost any sense of personal regard or affection toward one another. When they were married, the union was thought to be respectable and socially advantageous to both families. But in the absence of emotional intimacy, the social differences between them wore down their patience and goodwill, leaving only a shell of formal and functional relationship.
Most people are attracted to people who other people find most attractive and desirable, like the young woman who decided to abandon her interest in a boy she really liked because she knew her friends would never approve of the way he dresses. This is what exactly Lydia did. She is a lively and energetic girl, bold, aggressive and always smiling, exactly what you might expect of a precocious teenager experiencing the first thrill of adult social life and popularity. She wears the most fashionable dresses, has many friends and frequent invitations to parties and dances. She thinks about nothing but flirting, has no goals or responsibilities, no manners other than her liveliness and no formed values or character. She is self-centered, selfish and foolish.
When Elizabeth’s youngest sister Lydia fell in love – if we can call it love – she was attracted to George Wickham, a tall, slim and dashing young military officer with a winning smile and charming manners, without knowing anything of his background, family, character, intentions or personal reputation as a gambler, womanizer and scoundrel. Lydia valued him for his handsome appearance and popularity with his fellow officers and with other women. He was the heart throb of all the girls whereever he went. He deceived people with his good looks and excellent manners. He was deeply in debt and seeking a rich bride to solve his financial problems. As soon as Lydia’s eyes fell on him she singled him out as an object to be attained at any cost. At a time when a woman’s reputation and marriagability depended on her chastity, she agreed to run away with him based on a vague promise of marriage in the future. For Wickham the only motive was a weekend fling that he would forget as soon as a more interesting and eligible partner came his way. Yet he was ultimately pressurized into marrying her in order to escape from public disgrace and financial ruin.
It is not surprising that a relationship founded on superficial interests, physical appearance and sexual attraction should prove a poor basis for lasting harmony and affection. Yet how often this is the case. Vibrant youthful energy imparts an enchanting flush of charm and beauty to many young people which quickly gives place to dull and unappealing plainness a few years later. The excitement, enthusiasm and adventurousness of carefree youth unburdened by responsibilities is easily mistaken for more positive, lasting endowments of personality. But the novelty of infatuation, especially physical allurement, is rarely lasting. At this level people value other people almost as if they are precious objects to be obtained and possessed. Under the pressures of work and family responsibilities, youthful enthusiasm readily gives way to frustration, friction, quarrels, anger, distrust, jealousy, suspicion and sometimes violence. If at all the relationship survives, it survives only on intensity without a stable or organized foundation for lasting success.
Physical attraction can be very intense, especially during the early stages of relationship, so intense that it is often mistaken for real love that will last forever. But over time the novelty of the experience tends to wear off. Sexual attraction by itself is not a sufficient basis for long term positive relationships. Physical attraction may form a natural positive part of any relationship, but relationships based primarily on physical attraction will be fulfilling only to those in whom the satisfaction of their sensations is the primary source of interest and enjoyment in life. Those who value family, career accomplishment, emotional commitment, education and higher ideals or values usually discover physical sensations an inadequate basis for lasting relationship. Lydia got what she aspired for and was the envy of her friends. But at what gain and what cost? Wickham’s attraction for her lasted only weeks and hers for him a few months. After that they each spent their lives searching for satisfaction outside their relationship.
Scarlett & Rhett (Gone with the Wind)
The turbulent relationship between Rhett Butler and Scarlet O’Hara depicts the problems inherent in a relationship based primarily on physical attraction. Scarlett is a narcissistic plantation belle, the daughter of a French aristocratic mother and an Irish peasant immigrant who managed to acquire a large cotton plantation and a lovely cultured wife. Scarlett inherited her mother’s beauty and manners and her father’s raw energy and ambition. Beneath her polished exterior, she is a dynamo of unruly impulses. Although her beauty and flirtatious behavior have enslaved almost every young man in the region, Scarlett longs to marry Ashley Wilkes, the educated son of a distinguished Southern family. Heartbroken when Ashley marries his cousin Melanie instead, Scarlett marries Melanie’s brother just to spite Ashley. When her husband is killed in the war, she marries a store owner for his money, but never abandons her hope of finally winning Ashley for herself.
Scarlett’s only real relationship is with Rhett Butler, the dashing young blockade runner who was disowned by his family and expelled from Charleston for dishonorable behavior. Rhett sees right through Scarlett’s façade of ladylike elegance and knows the ruthless, unscrupulous, wildcat which lies behind her pretty face. Attracted by her energy, strength, courage and beauty, he pursues her first to become his mistress and later his wife. Scarlett’s heart has always been after Ashley. She admires Rhett’s brute strength, his courage to defy society, his tall handsome appearance and his considerable wealth, but she never feels for him anything like true affection. Their turbulent and unfulfilling marriage is marred by constant quarrels. After the death of their young daughter, Rhett finally leaves her. Only then does she realize how much she needs and wants him. Their failed partnership founded on sexual energy, physical strength, the desire to control and dominate shows the inherent instability and potential destructiveness of negative relationship at this level.
Avery’s response to adversity (Jerry Maguire)
Relationships based on physical and sexual attraction often end in anger, violent upheaval and bitterness. Jerry Maguire is a high flying sports agent engaged to a very attractive, sexy hard driving business woman, Avery Bishop. When in a moment of idealism Jerry speaks out against the hypocritical policies of his firm and loses his job, he comes to Avery looking for understanding and support. Instead, she bluntly tells him his act was stupid and foolish and refuses to offer a drop of sympathy. Avery’s response was not just based on her own nasty personality. It exposed the fact that their relationship was based on only one thing – pleasure. Jerry was a good looking object to possess and enjoy. When the fun ended, she expressed her scorn. As soon as the pleasure ended, the relationship ended as well. When Jerry responded to her caustic abuse by telling her the relationship was over, she was hurt and angry, not because she would miss him, but because to be jilted was an insult to her ego. To her relationship is only a way to take. It has nothing to do with giving.
The guy who tried to hire a consultant to help him sleep with a woman he was attracted to in Hitch may have succeeded in his immediate conquest but did not fare any better in relationships than Wickham.
Rob & Laura (High Fidelity)
Progress upward from level 2 begins with the realization that in order to be fulfilling, human relationship must be based on something more than physical satisfaction. High Fidelity depicts a man who has explored all the possibilities of level 2 relationships and discovered them to be unstable, unsatisfactory and empty. His lifetime pursuit of the perfect physical relationship is an example of how the high ideal of romance is perverted into a shallow, selfish fantasy – a good example of everything that real romance is not.
Rob’s frank introspection leads him to recognize the emptiness of his sexual pursuits and to yearn for a more lasting, meaningful and fulfilling relationship with Laura.
Marianne & Willoughby (Sense & Sensibility)
Mr. Dashwood dies leaving his wife and three daughters with no home and little means to support themselves. His second daughter, Marianne, is excitable, passionate, romantic and driven by intense emotions. When she is caught in a storm with an injured leg, she is rescued by the dashing young Mr. Willoughby who happened to be passing by and carries her safely home. Marianne is charmed and swept off her feet by his physical appearance and gallant manners. Willoughby courts her and leads her to believe he is deeply in love.
She is overcome by intense passion for the man, which she expresses quite openly. After initial encouragement, Willoughby disappears from her life and refuses to answer her letters. She is heartbroken. She later learns that when his aunt threatened to disinherit him, he agreed to marry a wealthy heiress, Ms. Grey. She also discovers that he has ruined the reputation of a young woman by refusing to acknowledge their illegitimate child as his own.
Marianne experiences all the grief of a sensual attraction based on nothing more substantial than physical appearance and external behavior. She discovers that a lover's character, capacity for real affection and personal values are a far truer and more lasting basis for successful relationship than external appearances.
Alex & Claire (The Mirror has two faces)
Claire is the beautiful and vain younger daughter of a vain and aging mother who always considered physical beauty her greatest asset and is now plagued by the scars of middle age. Like her mother, Claire values her beauty above all else and has used it to snare handsome, gallant Alex into a marriage. Once having caught him and won his admiration, Claire can derive no further gratification for her vanity from the marriage, so she immediately starts pursuing younger men to reinforce her sense of being attractive. Mistaking physical attraction for love, the more affection Alex expresses, the less satisfied Claire becomes. She needs the excitement of fresh conquests to prove her worth. Finally she leaves Alex for someone else, who surely will not be the last in a series of failed relationships based on physical attraction.
The contrast between physical attraction and emotional love is beautifully portrayed in the love affair of two brothers with the chaffeur’s daughter. David is the handsome, playboy younger son of the fabulously wealthy Larrabee family of Long Island, owners of a multi-billion dollar business empire established by David’s father and expanded by his brother Linus and his mother. With great good looks, money to burn and all the leisure time in the world, David gallivants through New England’s high society courting, dating and sleeping with every attractive young debutante within his reach, with a long line waiting in the wings to become his next fling. After years of free-wheeling, David finally meets a beautiful physician, Elizabeth Tyson, who it the first woman he feels more than a passing physical attraction for. He has no idea that she is also an heiress, daughter of the man who is negotiating a multi-billion dollar merger with Linus. Finally on her urging, he proposes marriage and their engagement is announced. A few days later, the Larrabee chaffeur’s daughter, Sabrina, returns from Paris a full grown, gorgeous woman. A year abroad has not only helped Sabrina blossom, but also helped her outgrow the childhood crush she felt for David. But what she has outgrown, David suddenly acquires. Unable even to recognize her as the clumsy teenager who climbed trees on the Larrabee estate, David feels powerfully attracted to her and is ready to call off his engagement with Elizabeth so he can pursue Sabrina, even if it means scotching the Tyson deal for his family. At the last moment, David discovers that his workaholic, level-headed brother Linus is actually so much in love with Sabrina that he too is ready to scotch the deal in order to see Sabrina happy. After trying so hard to keep David and Sabrina apart, now Linus wants to send David to Paris to be with her. Although he finds her ravishingly attractive, David is able to see that Linus is more deeply and truly in love with Sabrina than he could ever be. In a rare moment of self-awareness and sincerity, he dispatches Linus to Paris, agrees to marry Elizabeth and takes over negotiations on the merger.