Love Isn’t Everything, Not Anymore
Most love stories begin with a man and a woman, who start the film disliking each other and then fall in love by the end of the last act. We’ve come to accept this as some kind of disillusioned childhood gospel, and growing up, that feeling we had as she and he kissed and would be together forever became something we wanted to find for ourselves.
But love isn’t everything.
In the moment, sure, we can believe that she and he in the film began their lives together in unison and found that balance of sex and friendship. With their culturally approved jobs, they bought a beautiful house in upstate New York, within walking distance of a train line, that also got them into the city quick enough to go shopping at the weekends but with enough distance that their children will grow up in perfect suburbia with an effective neighbourhood watch. That’s fine in the movies, but not everyone can have this dream.
Love cannot be the basis for everything because the very definition of love itself varies. Sid and Nancy, Monica and Bill, and we all saw the photos of Rhianna’s face. These were all actions of apparent love, whether they were right or not. Love is flimsy and elusive, and we bandied around the word easily to whoever or whatever the recipient.
Since time began, people have believed that love is all-encompassing. As long as you love and are loved, you’ll be fine; all you need is love. But no, the Beatles were wrong. Perhaps in the ’60s, when the baby boom was in full swing, and you could have a mortgage without a job or a deposit, maybe all you did need was love, but now? That can’t be all.
Our lives aren’t so simple anymore. We’re expected to get a good job, meet the right person, get married, buy a house and fill it with laughing cherubs. Then, once we’re accomplished in our field, we’ll retire early and look after our grandchildren while baking an apple pie in the kitchen of the large house we kept living in, instead of downsizing because our children all left to pursue their own lives. This isn’t practical, and the raw and ugly truth is very different.
In reality, all you need is love, a mortgage deposit and no student debt, is likely a more accurate representation of Millennials and Gen Zs.
After leaving college (if we could afford to go in the first place), we’ll get a job to start paying back our student debt, which will undoubtedly be in a company that we didn’t envisage ourselves working at. The degree we studied our butts off for will be left to gather dust in our memories as we cart around the post and make coffee for others. We’ll join some dating websites and figure out quickly that most of our ‘matches’ are saying the exact copied and pasted lines to a dozen others, and we’ll likely get ghosted for no particular reason.
Instead of getting married, we’ll join a succession of clubs around our town and meet a few good friends that we’ll cherish more than anything in the world. Rather than finding ‘the one’, we’ll live in an apartment with a friend because we can’t afford our own place, but the stories we’ll have to tell will be worth the rats and the damp, eventually.
Instead of a biological family, we’ll hold onto that group of people who don’t spend their time looking for love but rather wait for love to come to them, in whatever form they choose.
To me, that’s still love. It’s just not ‘traditional’, as we’ve come to believe.
Maybe love isn’t as black and white as we’ve been told it is. Perhaps love is everything, but the recipient is the one to change. Instead of I love my husband, it becomes I love my job and my friends, or I love my life as it is.
Feasibly, like Sid and Nancy, or Monica and Bill, or Rhianna and Chris, we made our own version of what love is, but we did it without the actions of hurting ourselves or others. Who said love had to be given to a person? Society tried, but with today’s cultural exit from the norm’, it’s time to embrace the fact that love isn’t everything.
By doing that, we free ourselves from the societal parameters given to us by film and television, and write our own story.