I had a terrible Valentines day, so lets talk about love.
Love isn't simply an age old question, but very much a modern preoccupation. Literature and romance was significant in bringing the concept of love into being as important as it is, also altering our perception of what love means. Today, as much as people genuinely believe, marketing and commercial entertainment have a lot to do with notions of love also.
That isn't to say we can now rationalise and dismiss perceptions, they are real, but it's worth considering what love is and its implications to your life.
I'm not spiritual, but many people like to classify love in such terms, or in an intangible-ethereal-magical domain. First love, love at first sight, or true love, do wonders to heighten our expectations and make us feel totally shit when our reality doesn’t align though.
My ideas are a little less romantic sounding than those, but I think hold a lot of truth.
Love is formed through trust based connections and openness. There are things you don't talk with every friend about, but open up to with people you are closer to. Equally, you feel more connected when people open up to you. These connections, conversations, and shared experiences contribute to how you feel towards people.
The articulation of that sounds scientific, but the reality is obviously less so. It is not a game where: you get ten love points for the conversation about feeling alone in the world and later twenty for talking about your dead friends. Nor is it: attraction + trust + openness ... you get the idea.
My general idea of romance is ... I dislike the word progressive but lets go with it.
The current ideas about gender are less significant than a generation ago, and more and more people are not basing their romantic ideas on what gender you are within our culture. I’m not suggesting that society is in fact directly contributing to human desires like gender based attraction, but they are allowing an openness. When divorce is disincentivised by public persecution it changes individual actions. Similarly the idea of being in the closet is now more for fear of the unknown rather than fear of horrific foreseeable negative consequences.
Again, the idea of a man and wife is not what it used to be. Prominence of divorce, women not being identified as property, having children out of marriage not being taboo, choosing a career over kids, and other recent changes in thinking contribute.
There is a shift away from the idea of a partner for life. As with the idea of a job for life, more complex patterns of human life are seeing people making decisions that relate to a value system that is altering in parallel. Family does not mean what it used, and staying together for the kids is less problematic.
Unconditional love is perhaps a notion that is held onto more strongly. There are values around cheating on partners, multiple partners, age, and consent that correlate directly with the previous generations and remain important.
That isn’t to say these things are then inherent in human morality. Age perception for one thing is heavily altered by culture. A recent case of a 10 year old being sent from Australia to be married elsewhere comes to mind, also raising the issue of consent. Having multiple partners is also culturally influenced.
With the knowledge we have, which is not only personal but cultural and societal, we have the option to make our own decisions on how we live, forming social contracts with those around us.