Romeo’s Journey #2: Rejection of the Challenge

“My only love sprung from my only hate!

Too early seen unknown, and known too late!

140Prodigious birth of love it is to me,

That I must love a loathèd enemy.” — Romeo and Juliet, Act 1, Scene 5

So we started looking at the ten steps of the Hero’s Journey, related to finding a relationship. The first step is to confront a challenge. In this case, it is to find a mate, to admit that we want a life partner, a love, a passionate connection.

Once you admit that you want something that is out of your reach, it is perfectly natural that fear will bubble up. Why? Well, if may be “hard” or demand “sacrifice” or carry risk of “failure” and rejection. It will be a bumpy road.

And there is another reason to reject: IF the goal is something large enough to transform our lives, then our old self-image cannot survive the transition. We must become a new person. If THAT is the case, then no matter if it is a positive or negative change, it can trigger terror. We have to find a way to move through this fear, or develop a healthy relationship with it, or use it to motivate ourselves to examine WHY we are afraid, and perhaps develop sub-goals: “I want to become a Formula One driver, but first I have to learn to drive.” Smaller goal.

“I want the love of my life, but first I have to convince her father I’m a good guy” is a pretty common obstacle in romantic comedies. In Romeo & Juliet, probably the most famous love story in literature, the obstacle is made glaring: the families of the young lovers are deadly rivals and hate each other.

The lovers have to overcome this, and in a comedy, all would have been well eventually, and the families would have come together in a wedding at the end. Surely the delivery of the first grandchild would have done it.

I don’t want to spoil the story (!) but the road to true love really doesn’t run smoothly. But we’ll save that for another time.

The point is that when you think “I want my perfect partner” you might well run into a raft of emotions. Journaling them out could be a terrific exercise. What precisely do you think stands between you and the thing you desire?

  1. You’ve been hurt before. Rejection.
  2. You feel that you aren’t “good enough” for the type of person you crave to be with.
  3. Fear of scarcity: “There are no good men/women.”
  4. Fear that you will learn something unpleasant about yourself if you try.

There are others. List them. Look around you at other people who speak of love and relationships, and ask THEM what they are/were afraid of. Look carefully for the other labels fear hides behind: guilt, shame, anger, rage, resentment, anxiety, shyness, etc.

Fear has a thousand faces, but there are just two core emotions here: fear and love. And the good news is that once you identify what is stopping you, you can then ask:

HOW did I develop this phobia?

WHO was involved in the creation of this association?

Does it still serve me?

Is it true?

What is it trying to protect me from?

And so forth. The better you get at this, the more precisely you define the problem, the easier it is to know what resources you will need to get through it.

Keep your eyes on the ball. What you want, what you desire, is a life partner. What you NEED here is clarity of what is going on inside you, even if the answer is: “what is clear is that I don’t know why I am afraid.”

That’s fine as well. Admitting it will send you searching for resources. A subject we’ll return to soon.

But first, dig in. What is the fear? Where does it come from? What is it trying to protect you from? Understand that, and you are half-way home.

Love yourself…and share the love!

Steven Barnes

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