More specifically we need to talk about the one-true-love trope. This may be a bit rambly but it's been on my mind a lot recently.
Many years ago I read the Last Herald Mage trilogy and I came across a passage where someone (probably Stefan) explains love and great love to Vanyel and it's stuck to me. The speaker uses the metaphor of fire, that a great love is like being at a big joyous fire but that when it went out you wouldn't refuse to warm yourself on smaller fires. Maybe sometimes you will experience brighter fires but they're all equally warming.
Now with the true love trope we're faced with an idea that you can only have one love of your life, so now we have people wracked with guilt about loving other people other than their life partner; confused about how they can split love. And sometimes the fire from that one flame is inconstant and we are drawn to another, more constant fire, and that's okay.
If you read the greek philosophers you will see that they saw love as a multi-faceted thing but also Plato saw mankind as originally being a single unit which was split in two (when I ever saw the myth it was always presented as only man and woman but the story includes homosexual couples, how he'd explain any other sexual orientation could be an interesting conversation) but still it expalins this idea of unity, single couple moments which have clouded all our understandings of things like divorce, second relationships and many other things and I think have deprived a lot of people of love.
We have built a strange fable of one true mate (which I also have a lot of problems with) and idolised abandoning all other relationships with other potential mates, to a controlling and abusive degree (see number 18. Isolating you from friends and family). I've also seen a lot of stories where the male refuses the female "permission" to touch another male. So no hugs from a friend when you need comfort? No handshaking? No passing someone a present? Food? No swatting your kid brother for being a annoying (adult) kid brother? I can think of many reasons I'd touch a man, and I would expect that man to respect my choices and treat me as another adult. I think it displays a broken idea of male.
As an aside... if men are so incapable of keeping it in their pants or of controlling themselves why do we let them out of the house?
I'm not exactly sure where we're going with male and female (don't get me started about the pinkification of femaleness) but we have to start modelling better male role-models in our fiction. Yes, women can see that this is not right but I'm tired of it, I want more males who actually want to see their women succeed in whatever field they want and who are willing to let them be around men without having a coronary or dragging them away from something they want to do so that they can bone them. I honestly think it undermines the women.
I've also seen it with women, where they refuse permission to the man to even look at women. In my own relationship we have a long-standing agreement, looking at the menu is fine, ordering from it is right out. I can admire a guy but I have comitted to my husband and vice versa. We both trust that we're adults and that this is how it is, it was one of our many pre-marriage discussions and negotiations. Is our relatonship perfect? No. But we work on it.
We need better, we deserve better. Yes you can burn yourself in a fire but it can also warm and energise you for your future and all the little fires can help you keep warm, and if the worst happen can help you get over the burns or the extinguising of bigger fires.
So many mixed metaphors and I'm sure I'll talk more about it but too many of the relationships in romance are based on damaging relationships and I want more of the better in my reading.