Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Is Love Real?

Love is confusing. The concept of love is something that's always fascinated me, scientifically speaking. Falling in love is just a series of chemicals and hormones being released into your blood stream, so why it is so much more complicated than that in practice? The truth is, it shouldn't be. People say "love hurts" so nonchalantly you start to believe it, but it sure as hell should never hurt, if your love hurts, something isn't right. This got me thinking though, if everyone has such different perceptions of what it means to be in love, from different countries and cultures to every individual, is "love" as we know it, real?

In Verona, Italy, thousands flock to the 14th century house thought to be the site of Juliet's balcony. Under the balcony, squeezed between the old bricks, are love letters written by romantics filled with prayers that love will come their way. Similarly, bridges all over Europe are weighted down by padlocks left there by couples with the idea that, as long as the padlock stays locked, their love will last forever. So why, if love is so scientific, do so many put their faith in these traditions? An age old Welsh tradition is that a man will give a large crafted wooden spoon to the woman he loves, and she'll wear it around her neck on a chain for a number of days. I don't think this happens anymore, and it doesn't really have anything to do with what I'm saying, but I like it so much I had to share.

If different cultures have their own interpretations, how different can individual people be? If I'm honest, I'm not so sure I understand love myself, maybe I'm just a cynic but I don't have much faith in the concept. My curiosity about what love means to different people lead me to bother the people in my own life, because why do the hard work myself. On a quest to work it out the lazy way, I gave six people close to my heart, of different ages, genders and relationship statuses, one simple question: "what does being in love mean to you?"
(.... I then proceeded to wait more than 48 hours after writing this for them all to get back to me because apparently they have more important things to do like "jobs" and "academics" and other “adult responsibilities” rather than answer my burning questions.)
The responses I was given both surprised me and made me feel so much more for these people, so thank you for baring your souls for me guys. Here’s what I was told:
 The hardest bit about being in love at our age for me, is actually being able to know you're in love, I would say I've been in love properly once, but I only realised after the relationship was over, and that's what hurt the most because it was too late to appreciate it, and that's where I think the naivety of age comes into it, I was about 16, so I didn't really know much about relationships etc, so I'd like to think when you're older, love can become something so much more special. At the time, I thought they were just this amazing person, who made me really happy that I got along really well with, but as I said, it was only after I realised it was love.
“It means to share that part of your life with someone, they consciously or not affect your decisions and make you see the world from a whole new viewpoint”
“I mean, love is one of those things where there are two types, the kind that’s reciprocated, and the kind where you chase after them hopelessly for weeks on end only to give up when you realise you know more about their Facebook profile than your own. There’s that weird feeling you get where you get all excited (not like that) around them and you can’t take your eyes off them, even though you endlessly tell yourself to and you feel warm and fuzzy just being around them, and safe. For me, security is a huge part of any relationship, when I feel secure someone’s company I can relax and open up, even though I’m usually pretty open anyway. It’s often quite hard for me to be ‘me’ around people. I feel that the love I feel when I have a crush on someone isn’t really what love is. I say to myself that I’d buy them flowers everyday and make them breakfast in bed, I’d be better than their current partner (sometimes I would be I think). But the other stuff is bullshit; I’m the laziest person I know. Whenever I’ve had an offer of a relationship, I never said yes, I got scared, I ran away…love’s a bitch”
“To me, being in love isn’t one big thing, it’s a lot of little things. I think it gets confused a lot and you don’t necessarily know at the time that you're in love. I think being in love is about them being your best friend and your inspiration. Being in love is about holding their hand and not wanting to let go, wanting to spend as much time as possible with them. Being in love is loving everything about them; so instead of loving their imperfections, they're not imperfections anymore because they're perfect to you. I think being in love is about not being able to stop thinking about them and doing anything you can to help them, make them happy, and just generally being selfless.”
“What does love mean to me? As someone who, personally hasn’t ever been in love it’s a hard question to answer. I’ve literally put off writing this because, if I’m honest, I have no clue what love means to me. I know the love I feel for my family and friends and subway cookies and puppies are real and pure and the best thing in the world. But for romantic love, I don’t know. I have ideas and expectations but no real experience to draw from. One thing I do believe in is that; everything happens for a reason. Whether the experience you face will make you stronger and teach you a lesson or because, in the long run, you were better off without that experience (or person). My closest and dearest friends often come to me for relationship advice and one thing I’ve seen and learnt through their various ups and down in relationships is that if you are not being treated like a prince or princess and in return also treating them the same (that’s important) then it won’t last. From that, I guess I could say that love to me is the feeling like when you’re stomach is about to fall out your butt, a weird scary feeling but it’s something that you never want to let go of or end. Though there may be variations of it depending on the person and type of relationship you’re in, it should be filled with unconditional love, patience, loyalty, trust and passion and lots and lots of the stomach falling out your butt feeling.”
“Love is beautiful and is the warmest feeling in the world. Being in love means to have found someone that is able to make you feel completely happy and who you completely trust. I think that being in love can easily be fooled for lust or loving the attention from another person, however you know when it's real if that person’s name alone can make you smile from ear to ear”
Through hearing what my loved ones felt about being in love, I’d hoped I would be able to piece together an opinion of my own but the truth is I’m still as lost as I was when I started. However, what I have learnt feels so much more valuable. I can understand now why “love hurts”. I still stand by my belief that love should not ever make you feel genuinely hurt, but I can understand now that being in love is worth fighting for and sometimes that can be tough because luck isn’t always on your side, but if you really want it, if you cant picture your life without them then you would do what it takes, even if it hurt. The most common pattern I found while forcing these people to search their souls, was that it can be hard to tell when you’re in love, and maybe that’s what makes me feel so sceptical about the whole idea, I’m the kind of person that would appreciate a definitive test. Seeing couples fall “in love” and end a few months later makes me wonder if it’s ever really there.

I think the one thing I can conclude is that every single person definitely does have their own opinion on what to expect from being in love, and what they expect from a relationship in turn. So maybe that’s why love really can hurt you sometimes. When you find yourself trying to form a relationship with someone who’s idea of being in love doesn’t match yours, you’ll never be treated the way you deserve. The truth is, no matter how hard it seems at the time, unless you feel happy, safe and warm (apparently?), you should be getting the heck out of there because life is way too short for love that doesn’t start a fire inside you. 

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