This post is scheduled to be published on the 14th of February, IST.
If Google Trends are at all a viable metric for gauging the populace’s thinking at any point in time, then, as of January 2018, the general public’s interest in love seems to be slowly but steadily dwindling into oblivion; is this a glimpse into what the future might be like? A utopia of sorts? Probably not.
Over the years, philosophers have voiced their opinions on this intricate and yet occasionally simple concept. Plato held a rather optimistic view; that love is rational, even intellectual. The French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre saw things in a different direction, and talked about falling in love as having a strange relationship: one half of a couple is the subject, the other half is the object. These dynamics keep changing, leading to unnecessary compromises along the way, introducing deliberate ripples into an otherwise tranquil pool. Sartre went so far as to relate this phenomenon to masochism and even sadism. He wasn’t far off the mark.
To be in love is to look at yourself in a mirror warped by your partner’s expectations. Your affection for each other often supersedes your individual identity. Surely this cannot be an improvement in a presumably balanced lifestyle? The human mind is quite possibly the most wonderful artifact of life. It fails, however, at the most unexpected moments; times that are described popularly as moments when “we just clicked. It was love at first sight!” I mean, let’s face it Priya, it probably wasn’t, but okay.
If you have also observed couples in society, while, before and after (pessimism is the best) they were together, you will have noticed how drastically their behavior changes. It pains me to say this but I regret now not having pursued a degree in psychology. A man so obviously smitten by a woman, or any other combination, is never the same again. Of course, this does not hold good for the grayer patches of societal strata, i.e. sociopaths and psychopaths; no, their lives are quite blissful. In the early stages of said attraction, these normal people – overcome with infatuation – keep getting distracted in the most pedestrian of discussions. A lack of sleep becomes evident as well. There is also, however, an uncharacteristic smile playing on their faces throughout this illusory period.
The answer to why being attracted to somebody feels so invigorating lies in the realm of science. When you interact with someone you
think you like, your brain goes into action and releases chemicals like adrenaline (the rush), dopamine (the distraction) and serotonin (more distraction). While these are all pleasure-inducing compounds, and help you step into this amazing phase of falling for someone, they cloud over your judgement, and, bit by bit, begin to alter your perception of things. I am in no way saying that these are egregious outcomes. Just that they’re really, really bad.
Which brings us to consequence. Once you are committed to building a castle of emotional – and sometimes financial – dependence, watching it crumble down into dust is agonizing. Spending months on end distraught over a break-up does justice to no one and helps only the therapists and bar-owners. This is where temporary speed-dates and premeditated short flings triumph. To willingly get into “nothing serious” and remain conscious of this caveat is a fairly good way to experience a myriad of stimuli while retaining your sanity. And I’d rather mourn for a recuperating friend than for their depressed corpse.
Every break-up is not horrible. Every successful relationship is not tidy, either. I have heard the phrase “लग्नं व्हायच्या आधी…” (translation: before I got married…) umpteen times in a wide array of household discussions, including my own. Not all of these sentences end in a habit or activity that the speaker used to happily indulge in in the past, but most do. And these are only from the married households. Isn’t that sad? Of course, you have these huge joyous family gatherings and wholesome get-togethers and what not. But are they not compensations for a future lost to a life of dedicated love? The thought of anchoring oneself completely to a stranger may seem daunting to many people. It is not so much daunting, though, as it is daft.
If you are lucky enough (you’re not) to find someone who is the perfect fit for you, then my hearty congratulations. If not, my condolences. In itself, love is a metaphor for sacrifice. Only rarely do relationships work with minimal effort from both parties. In all other cases, it is an endless circle of mutual torture.
But humans are constitutional simpletons. And so they fall in love all over again.
Thank you for reading. Happy Valentine’s.