Modern love

Published February 12, 2021, 10:30 AM

by Joe Priela

Our reality and the pieces of ourselves we tend to forget

Illustration by Samy Löwe

William Shakespeare wrote in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, “Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, and therefore is wing’d cupid painted blind.” Does it still ring true in this day and age?

A hopeless romantic might argue that what Shakespeare wrote still resonates with our generation. Although, in our digital age, several apps prove otherwise, making us come up with perfect captions, curate our best photos, and mask ourselves with filters. We act as if there’s this algorithm, a certain method, a well-thought-out formula that we have to follow to fit in this reality we’ve framed for ourselves and to fulfill our need for perfection as well as our need for clicks.

Courtship and relationships have surely evolved with time. With one swipe, you can get a match—the easy way into a potential relationship. There’s no need to truly know the person, no need for mutual friends, and proximity doesn’t even matter. Although, once the typing stops and the euphoria dies down, you realize that the person you’re interacting with is far from the expectations you’ve set. In an instant, you become uninterested. Let’s say you got it going good with someone, but suddenly, this little thing at the back of your head starts asking, “Is there someone better? Enter the term ghosting. Well, ghosting is the easy way out, easy enough because you aren’t in too deep anyway.

INDEPENDENCE Friedrich Nietzsche in 1869

…one must stand bravely on one’s own two legs, otherwise one is simply incapable of loving.

—Friedrich Nietzsche

Unfortunately, this has become our reality today, when commitment is as easy to walk away from as pressing the delete or the block button on a certain app. We’ve acquired something our parents and grandparents didn’t have—the overwhelming power of choice. Yet, this hasn’t made it any more likely that people will find fulfillment. At most, it has made fulfillment less likely for us.

But then again, if we’re lucky enough, we’ll see bits of authenticity here and there. If we just turn our gazes off our phones and witness our surroundings, we might remember where we left off and where should we pick up from, what to unlearn, what to relearn, what to learn once and for all.

LOVER’S DREAM Hermia and Lysander, A Midsummer Night’s Dream by John Simmons

Here’s a short story.

It was early in the morning. As rays of sunshine break through the windows, I hear sizzling in the kitchen and, upon entering the living room, my parents were there, slow-dancing to Harry James’ “It’s Been a Long, Long Time,” cheek to cheek, swaying side to side, while waiting for breakfast.

Witnessing this, it’s difficult not to be a romantic and not to believe in the depth of connection that can exist between two people. And so, I thought, our generation still has hope. We just have to remember a couple of things.

As Pope Francis once said, “Fidelity is the characteristic of mature human relationships. A life woven in fidelity is expressed in all dimensions and leads us to be men and women who are faithful and trustworthy in every circumstance.” We must be bare, stripped of the masks and filters we’ve been hiding behind. We must be true to ourselves as well as to others.

It’s a reminder for us to teach ourselves the value of relationships that, if taken care of, may last a lifetime, to treat love as a gentle wave and notice that it just flows—It cannot be forced. We should remember to live for the little things in life—sunrises, sunsets, the days you are surrounded by your favorite people, making you realize that the world is not as cold and as harsh as we deem it to be. We tend to forget about the in-betweens, to find the beautiful process in everything we do.

Photo by Rachel Artime

We must remind ourselves of the importance of slowing down in this hustling and bustling world we’ve built for the reason that, thinking that life is a racetrack and we should keep on sprinting, we have staved off the traditional order of things and made our own a quicker one. As we hurry putting one foot after the other, we unconsciously leave pieces of ourselves behind, only to feel, later on, that we’re incomplete. Realizing this, we desperately search for other people to fill that void, resulting in unhealthy relationships. I agree, love should come with deep understanding but we should also learn how to differentiate love and emotional dependency.

We must take our time and be mindful of everything we do so as not to harm ourselves and others. We must appreciate solitude and be at peace with ourselves first before considering ourselves ready for commitment. We must first pick up the bits of ourselves we’ve left behind and remember the pieces we might have forgotten.

No one can really tell us what to do or what not to do, whom to love or whom not to, when to decide if we’re ready or not. Hence, here’s a quote from Friedrich Nietzsche. I’ll just leave it to your own interpretation: “…one must stand bravely on one’s own two legs, otherwise one is simply incapable of loving.”