I Believe In Love

I Believe In Love

If I could paint a picture of modern love, it would be a portrait of turmoil, technology, insecurities and a raging hurricane of emotions. The portrait of modern love is disconnected and roughly sketched. The portrait of love is no longer a masterpiece.

We are in a world where we decide whether or not we could date someone by looking at a single picture and swiping left or right on a screen. We are forced to sum up who we are and why we are worthy in two sentences or less. We think that all of this technology is acting as a connector, but all it is doing is deepening gaps between us.

We are forced to have arguments through text messages. We are so worried about getting our message sent first that we do not even take time out of our rapid thumbing to stop and think about whether this “fight” is productive. We mistake the tone of a text message and only further exacerbate the problem. We cannot even be bothered to have face to face conversations anymore.

When we do sit across from each other and are forced to look into each other’s eyes we can’t even focus for long enough to be content with the silence between us before we are checking our social media apps or sending a text message.

We are hyper aware and insecure because of this supposed connectedness. We can see that our significant other was looking at an ex’s profile or sent them a text and we instantly assume the worst. “Why would you need to look at their page?” “If you have nothing to hide let me see your phone.” “Why didn’t you ‘like’ the picture I put up?” This constant lack of privacy is killing our confidence and our relationships.

Modern love is locked with passwords and fingerprints.

We are in a world where things are easily broken. And even more easily replaced. Modern love does not get repaired; it gets replaced. Too often now we are too lazy to fight for love because we think it is easy to find. Modern love is taken for granted, just like the technology we are so obsessed with. In most cases, we don’t know what it is like to truly miss someone. We have the ability to be in constant communication. We have the ability to look at a webpage and see what our love is doing, how they’ve been and who they’re with. We have lost the ability to truly miss the presence of another being – because even when they’re physically there, mentally they’re elsewhere, lost in the world of technology.

In preparation for this essay I asked what modern love meant on Facebook. The majority of the answers were pessimistic and hopeless. I got responses that love is dead, love does not exist and no one can commit to one person for their rest of their life. And the few positive responses I received were deemed as biased because that person was or is in love.

The response that seemed to resonate with most people however was “There is no such thing as ‘old-fashioned’ love stories anymore. The dynamics have changed. Love is finding someone who lets you be an individual who is part of the bigger team; it’s two incomes, sometimes two houses. It takes a lot of hard work and support on both sides of the couple, whatever that couple may look like.”

Recently I watched a video of my grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary party. I could still see the love in their eyes as they looked at each other. A family friend made a speech and told how beautiful my grandmother was at her wedding and my grandfather loudly stated, “She still is!”

My grandmother stood up and said “50 years ago my husband didn’t think it was manly enough to wear a wedding ring, today he is going to wear one. With this ring, I thee wed” and she placed the ring on his finger for the first time in their 50 year marriage. It is amazing that after all these years we are still trying to decide what is “manly” or “womanly” in a relationship. My grandfather then said, “Ann was a very special girl. I won’t say it was love at first sight, but it was awful close. Not a day goes by that we don’t say to each other ‘I love you’ several times.”

Towards the end of the video, I really learned what modern love means. My grandmother said, “Our kids are always most important. But we decided when we got married that we would be important too. So he has always been my first priority and I was his. The marriage makes the family, and when the base is strong, the hard times don’t seem as important as the good times.”

Modern love is not irreparable.

Modern love just needs a little bit of TLC. 

Modern love needs the TLC that can be found in the courage of a gay couple; the TLC that can be found in the strength of a single mother; the TLC that can be found in the patience of our best teachers; and in the hope of a military spouse and the TLC that can be found in the sincerity of a 50 year marriage;

Modern love needs to look passed the cynicism and the tragedies and the despair of the world around us. We need a healthy dose of hope and optimism before we can move past the era of meaningless “hook-ups.” Instead why don’t we hook up our souls? And work through the awkward silences without escaping them with our phones. We need to look deeply into each other’s eyes in a face-to-face conversation and show each other that we are not afraid to care. Maybe the one who cares the most is not the one with all the power. Maybe love should not have a focus of power.

“Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is not envious.” We hear the same clichéd personifications and descriptions of love our whole lives. Isn’t it about time that we redefine love? Love needs to be put into terms that the future generation can learn from.

Love is difficult. True love is not easy to find. Love is missing someone in the afternoon when we just want their presence in the room. Love is sharing the last cup of coffee in the morning. Love is leaving your phone at home when it is time to go on a date. Love is surprising your partner with little reminders that they are loved; a sticky note on the mirror, a text message to wake up to, a warm hug at the end of the day. Love knows no gender, race, or income level.

In my lifetime I have witnessed multiple wars, bombings on the streets, mass shootings and epidemics. Love is having someone to talk to and watch the news with and be thankful for. Love is having someone to hold you and protect you. Love is having someone to comfort you when the world is a seemingly uncomfortable place.

Sometimes love comes to us as a disguise. Love first came to me in the form of the written word. After my high school love broke me down, words were there to pick me up. And then love came to me from a boy in my residence hall. A boy who accepts my weirdness. Who does not belittle me or quiet my voice. He never tells me that I am too sensitive or too wishy-washy, too harsh or too cold. He accepts the woman that I am and for that I accept the man that he is. Modern love needs the ability for mutual vulnerability.

Modern love does not only accept your flaws, insecurities and downright ugliness but it embraces them with open arms. Modern love means learning to love every bit of yourself before you can ever truly learn to love another.

We need to think back to the times when people were forced to write down their thoughts and their feelings for someone. It took time and money to send letters across the world. Constant communication was impossible. We get impatient if someone takes too long to text message us. Modern love needs to learn patience and understanding. We aren’t patient enough to stick around long enough to see if we could really be with someone for life. We need to be patient enough to actually listen when there is a problem so that the problem gets fixed rather than just ignored.

We need to move passed the awkward moments, the times when we feel uncomfortable and the times where we wonder if someone else would be easier to deal with. We need to fight for love so that our children have a better outlook on romance than our generation does. We need to feel things we don’t want to feel. And learn to be comfortable with silence and emotion. We need to be brave enough to risk getting hurt and possibly losing it all.

Maybe modern love is just making someone your top priority in a world that is constantly trying to tell us how to prioritize and what we should believe. Maybe “modern” love is not much different from any other kind of love. If love is truly timeless then it should persevere. Despite turmoil, technology, insecurities and a raging hurricane of emotions. I believe in love. Love is not dead. Love does in fact, exist. Love just needs a little bit of TLC.