Everlasting love

CATE O’BRIEN | OPINION COLUMNIST

I’ve never been in love. Granted, I probably don’t yet have the emotional maturity necessary for such an ambition. But the idea has always fascinated me, mostly because it seems so magical, and things that seem magical usually fall short of expectation for me.

Love as a concept is so vague, so differently understood throughout literature, and art and time that it makes me wonder if we can define it at all. Maybe love is something that can only be grasped individually, “when the time comes”. But there is one thing that strikes me as odd, as almost unbelievable about the cultural idea of love: the idea that romantic love has to be “everlasting.” Why?

I had a piece of cake today. It was perfect down to the last fingerfull of chocolate icing. Does the fact that I finished it make the experience of that chocolate cake less perfect somehow? Platonic love doesn’t have to last lifetimes for it to be defined as ‘real love’ or ‘real friendship’: why does romantic love? We know from what divorce statistics tell us that romantic love doesn’t always last. For a lot of people, that makes the love that they did experience feel invalid. Why?

I understand the appeal of love lasting forever; of finding your soulmate; of an eternal sense of belonging, trust and commitment. But if you get a taste of that poetic euphoria, if you experience those rare moments of bliss worthy of a montage for a rom com, if you really fall in love with someone, shouldn’t that count for something, even if it doesn’t last?

Time is strange. Situations change and people change and therefore relationships, which are built on situations and people, change. But good things don’t have to last forever to be meaningful and poignant. It’s important to take what you can from any relationship you have, whether it lasts two weeks or a lifetime. Life is short, and for all we know we only have one chance to experience the crazy, wild and inexplicable things that it offers. We should value the ones we get to experience, no matter how long they last.

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