Friday, 28 December 2012

What is love?

What is it about us?
Do we have such unrealistic expectations of love that we're never satisfied?
Have we come to view the romance of being in love as the only type of love? As the thing we should expect to feel for someone for the entire of our lives? As though the absence of this is the absence of love, period?
Have we ceased to identify the different concepts of love, focussing solely on the intoxication of being in love because that is the idealistic fluff that is perpetrated to us through the mediums of society? This bliss of first falling in love is what we expect to perpetrate through the 'happily ever after' fairy tales have promised us?

I remember a sermon at school where we were introduced to the Ancient Greek classifications of love, for where we have one word which sprouts confusion, they have at least four: agape, eros, philia and storge. Unlike us, they differentiate between the dutiful love of children towards their parents, or the love that exists between friends. They also differentiate between the passionate sensual type, or being in love and the deeper sense of true love. And it is this last word, agape that is used to express 'I love you (s'agapo)', a phrase that even in this language should outlive the honeymoon period.

While the feeling of eros, of passionate sensual love, be it sexual or not, is an intoxication of which we can never get enough, we have ceased to listen to the voice of experience that warns us of eros' short life span. It is the honeymoon period before real life sets in, when our eyes are opened to the faults of the other and life's little stresses get in the way. When the addition of new responsibilities impact upon the dynamics of a relationship. When the mundaneness of raising children and maintaining a household become the focus of each lover's world and their passionate love for each other morphs into a steadier love.

Growing up, we are subconsciously indoctrinated by the fairy tales and Disney stories upon which we are fed. Though they teach us reading and comprehension they also provide lessons in social expectations: the type of women of the world, the importance of beauty, the 'happily ever after' of falling in love and marrying Price Charming. In this day and age, this is unrealistic and unacceptable. And yet novels exist that can prepare us for life. Romances even, that override the kitsch that Disney has to offer, that can explain this difference in love about which we appear to have become so oblivious. Just one example is Georgette Heyer's 'A Civil Contract' where the young hero is torn between the woman he is in love with but could not marry and the woman with whom he entered a marriage of convenience but eventually comes to genuinely love. Not only does it show that relationships need work to thrive and overcome hurdles, but also the potential unsuitability of in love love to the hardships and business of day-to-day life.
As an exercise in realism, this is a far better thing upon which to base your expectations than the fairy tales and Disney stories upon which we are expected now to grow up.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...