Thanks for joining me for part 3 of my series identifying stumbling blocks on the road to true love. After I made such a (hopefully) convincing case in Part 1 and Part 2, with any luck you now agree that desire is a triangular thing, that we learn what to desire and who to love by imitating the desires of others. In this post I’d like to look at the third pattern of desire in my book about love, the Super Hero. I love talking about this pattern because it gets to the heart (pun intended!) of something that is often hard to understand. Why is forbidden love so exciting? If we can’t have someone, for whatever reason, we seem to want them all the more. The only way to make sense of that is with the desire triangle, so here goes.
We desire what others desire – so far so good. But how do we know what other people desire? Well, we look for signs that something they have is important to them. What is a sure sign that something is really, truly important? It’s locked up! We only put our most valuable valuables in a safe, behind a lock or in a safe deposit box. And if our most treasured treasure is out in the open, say a precious trinket or art object, we make rules about who can handle it and under what conditions. In other words, if we really, truly love something we forbid others to go anywhere near it. Which is why some of us can’t resist touching the forbidden canvas in an art gallery or “borrowing” the one sweater our sister said we cannot borrow. You see, because our desire is driven by the desires of others, and because forbidding access to something is a sure sign that it’s a desirable object, our desiring hearts quickly make the connection that forbidden objects are the most desirable of all. If we hear that we can’t have something, we may long for it with an irresistible passion.
How does this get the Super Hero into trouble? The Super Hero type is drawn irresistibly to a forbidden lover. Usually this means that they fall for someone who is already in a steady relationship, including marriage, because it’s as if the relationship is nothing more than an obstacle that must be overcome, like the lock on a safe. Or maybe the lover is “out of my league” or forbidden by family or looks upon the Hero with disdain – all the better! For the Super Hero lover, the obstacle is more important than the person they think they love. Conquering obstacles to love is what love is all about. The more impossible the odds stacked against acquiring a certain lover, the more desirable that lover will become. The Super Hero lover has confused love with impossible odds.
One sure way to know if you have fallen into this pattern is to observe what happens when you have conquered all the obstacles and won the heart of your lover. Does the thrill last or does it fade almost overnight? If it fades, the pursuing of love is far more exciting to you than actually being in love, so you fall out of love almost as soon as you have won the day. If you fall into this tangle, your path to true love will open up when you realize that the degree of difficulty in a relationship is not a reliable measure of true love.
Editor’s Note: Is the Super Hero pattern not your type? Find out your own romantic pattern with The Wicked Truth About Love Questionnaire and stay tuned between now and Valentine’s Day to learn more about the six patterns of desire and which one leads to true love!
The Wicked Truth About Love: The Tangles of Desire contains a full discussion of the triangular nature of desire and all the tangles, including advice on how to get untangled and back on the path to love. Just in time for Valentine’s Day!
Image: Susan Drawaugh