The Creative Spark—Five Romantic Uses of Metaphors

I had a dream that I threw out my dreamland husband from my home.  We screamed and yelled, and he cried out, “I’ve been having an affair all along.”  He stole all the freezer grocery items and barged out the door.  In my dream, I couldn’t get him out of my life fast enough.

But when I awoke from my dream, I reflected on it.  I had mismanaged my dreamland relationship.  The fault wasn’t in my dreamland husband.  It was in me.

Thank goodness my reality is bliss, not bombs.  But this dream inspired me to merge metaphors with romance to impart tips to you for a happy relationship.  All the best wisdom I’ve ever gathered comes from my favorite source: The Marriage Foundation.  So, keep in mind I’ve been advised by a non-profit that makes marriage its business.

There are five general purposes for a metaphor, according to Farnsworth, author of  Farnsworth’s Classical English Metaphor.  He’ll teach you a tidbit on each of these five, while I follow each with a metaphorical romantic tip.

Swooning metaphor #1: A metaphor arises through “making an unfamiliar subject familiar by comparing it to what the audience knows better” (4%).

Farnsworth further explains that “many comparisons work this way.  They make a subject familiar by likening it to a source that is easier to imagine even if the reader knows it no more directly” (6%).

Here is my metaphor, comparing ideal romance to haven’s gateway:

Your spouse is the gateway to heaven, beckoning you to burst into the bliss of unconditional love.  It’s a love only you can create, for it’s your nature, your soul.  As you step past the gate, you must let go of all ego—dawn a robe of selflessness—for only then can you taste the bliss.

When we have no ego, we can give, forgive, and give some more—until we attain the bliss.

Fawning metaphor #2: Another metaphor takes shape by “throwing a familiar subject into a surprising perspective” (4%).

Farnsworth says this type of metaphor “throws a too-familiar subject into a surprising perspective, causing the reader to see it from a different point of view ….  The effect may be to shrink the significance of the subject, or to cause it to seem enlarged, or to otherwise let an old thing be seen anew” (6%).

Here is my metaphor that shows how marital psychologists can, surprisingly, do more harm than good.  It’s not always the case, but, personally, I wouldn’t trust a psychologist with my love life.

I say psychologists are lions claiming to be vegetarians.  They aim to fix marriages, but leave behind bleeding hearts.  Consider the psychologist who says accountability comes from taking ownership “of your part.” For instance, you claim you did 20% wrong, while your loved one did 80% wrong.  How does that fix a love life?  I think that when a couple spars over a toothpaste lid—the 20% and 80% don’t matter.  What matters, to me, is 100% selfless love.  Do 100% to allay your loved one’s woes, and expect 0% in return.  That’s true love held accountable in my eyes!

Eye-gazing metaphor #3: Another type of metaphor manifests through “giving visible form to something inherently invisible, or otherwise making an abstraction available to the senses” (4%).

Farnsworth clarifies that “a comparison often makes an intangible subject available to the senses.  Appeals to any of the five senses are possible, and some comparisons invoke several of them; by far the most frequent and important sensory effect of a comparison, however, is to make the subject visible, with uses of the other senses often present but subsidiary” (6%).

And what could be more intangible than love itself.  Here is my metaphor:

Love is your truest essence—the bonfire that never dies, only unites; that sheds eternal light, but never destroys; that awakens the soul, but never burns.  That’s the love we are meant to give our beloved, day in day out, never once fading the light with a foul word or unkind thought.

Smitten metaphor #4: Yet another type of metaphor forms by “​caricaturing the subject by drawing a comparison that exaggerates some of its features, whether for the sake of ridicule or elevation” (4%).

Farnsworth says, “A quite different purpose of comparison is to caricature the subject—that is, to exaggerate some feature of it, whether for the sake of reduction, elevation, or mere emphasis ….  Exaggerated comparisons may be further divided into those that elevate their subjects and those that diminish them—the difference between caricaturing a person by comparison to Atlas or to a reptile” (7%).

My metaphor compares you to the ultimate love personified:

As your loved one squeezes the heart of the world, make your own heart grander and softer.  Only the purest heart satisfies true love—and washes away woes.  Let me reassure you, a pure heart resides within you.  It awaits its glory, as you are pure love personified.

Love struck metaphor #5: One type of metaphor arises from “simplifying a complex subject” (5%).

Farnsworth elaborates, “A comparison can give simpler form to a subject that is complicated ….  Simplification may have pedagogical value, as it can bring clarity to a point that is hard to understand.  Another frequent rhetorical consequence of simplicity is to make a claim more persuasive” (7%).

I tried to simplify the need for a family bond by using the metaphor of a flower:

A child and its parents are as inseparable as a flower to soil and sunshine.  Take away the soil or sunshine, and the flower wilts.  Your nature is pure love.  That love must eternally bind your family.

Without both parents, a child’s risk of suicide, depression—and incarceration—skyrocket.  The child’s soul wilts, like a flower with neither soil nor sunshine.  But with both soil and sunshine, a flower reaches its peak of beauty.  And pure love yields the most beauty.

As for my dreamland world, I had given up the moment my dream began.  I had a chance to salvage the bliss, to brush aside all anger, to embrace only love.  But I pushed my dreamland husband out the door.

The one metaphor I’d like to leave you with is this: when you give nothing but love, your romance morphs into a contagion of angels.


Farnsworth, Ward.  (2016).  Farnsworth’s Classical English Metaphor.  Jaffrey, New Hampshire: David R.  Godine.

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