What is love? And how, in an era of quick fix dating, can we truly attain it?
These questions have been discussed by lifestyle websites time and time again. It's also a topic that's been covered ample times on this site. But in most peoples' minds, they know what love is. And if they haven't been in love, they'll have a rough idea of what it means to be in love. However, an increasing problem in this day and age doesn't seem to be whether you can find love, but how long you can hold onto it before it fizzles away.
Traditional dating, in no uncertain terms, has been bulldozed and replaced by a series of dating apps spearhead by the American app Tinder. While Tinder isn't even 10 years old, it has already created a greater emphasis on physical appearance and unwittingly upped the standards of 99% of the 18-30 dating demographic.
And that isn't necessarily a bad thing. If anything, these apps have opened up our eyes to a plethora of potential partners we may never have encountered had we stuck to dating within our social circle or hometown communities. If we're living in a big city, such as London or New York, we can date and meet people from all over the world. But is all this choice making it harder to give love a shot when we finally think we're falling for someone?
In Aziz Ansari's critically acclaimed book Modern Romance, the chapter's main themes mostly consist of Ansari and respected sociologist Eric Kleinberg interviewing millennials unwilling to settle for someone suitable when they know a more desirable person is potentially a match away. As Aziz himself writes, “The world is available to us, but that may be the problem.”
But if we're falling in love with someone, or have already found that seemingly all-elusive, feeling, why are many of us still finding it hard to settle and hold onto it?
While there is undoubtedly more choice in this ever-changing dating landscape, many of us are still falling in love. After all, when you know you know, right? And if that person happens to tick all your boxes and is just as crazy about you as you are about them, then there should seemingly be no need for two people to look the other way and be tempted by someone else. This is the scenario we all hope for.
In most cases, this will typically culminate in marriage, and a family if we're going by traditional scripture. Yet even in these cases, partners can go astray, not necessarily because they're falling out of love, but because there are other people out there who are equally as compelling. Perhaps this was what Kanye West thought when he rapped alongside Jay-Z in the hit single No Church In The Wild that "love is cursed by monogamy."
Of course, before we delve into the thought process of the much-maligned rapper, it is worth noting that a considerable amount of people would tell you that they are only capable of loving one person. But if we take West's poignant line at face value, then you'll find that a man who deems himself a genius was actually onto something credible rather than laughable (like most of what he says).
Just take marriage. Like it or not, marriage in its simplest terms is a social construct built on religious grounds. If society has more stable relationships, the nation runs smoother. People can confide in someone, feel cherished and keep their urges in check for fear of suffering an eternity in hell. Until the 1950s, this mindset was prevalent in most Western countries until we became more secular and singleminded following the turn of the liberalist movements of the 60s and 70s.
But this form of objectivism that Ayn Rand and other liberalists long championed is playing out in the dating world just as much as it is in the global markets. Nowadays, we tend to indulge ourselves with a bevy of sexual partners and explore our sexuality rather than marry the first person we sleep with. And with romance now glamorized beyond belief in film and television, the idea of settling for anyone who doesn't resemble a skimpily clad Megan Fox or a younger reincarnation of Brad Pitt is almost unfathomable.
These are extreme standards of beauty, the kind of beauty Victoria's Secret shows and Calvin Klein campaigns like to herald as the gold standard of physical perfection, and many of us get sucked into this mindset, so much so that when we do find someone who finally gets us, we still find ourselves compelled to throw that all away in the lofty hopes can have that same feeling with someone who looks like the stars we see on T.V.
Still, is love really cursed by monogamy? Can we truly love someone if we also find ourselves desiring someone else? Not really.
In its purest form, love isn't about what we look like. It isn't even about how funny we are. It's about being content in each other's company without imagining what it would be like to have the same connection with someone else. Love- at least the romantic kind- is when you love someone so much it hurts to look at anyone else because they don't come close to matching the qualities you value in the person you love.
It also hurts when someone you love replaces you. The ego is hurt, and the heart is shattered- sometimes beyond repair. But in most cases, this happens because the love itself has run its course- not because monogamy proved too difficult in a world full of beautiful people.
So choose wisely who you fall for. And be even more careful saying those three powerful words.
Dating may be cursed by monogamy. But love most certainly isn't.