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Thursday, 20 July 2017

Love?


I’ve never been in love. I’ve thought I was in love lots of times. I’ve told guys I love them and had guys tell me they love me. I don’t think any of us meant it or knew what love really felt like. In the heat of the moment it’s easy to say, but when you take a step back you think; was it just a happy moment, caught in the heat of the lust, or infatuation?


Disney movies, chick-lit and rom-coms are no help. And love songs. If a popular franchise of films and novels keeps selling a certain ideal, everyone subconsciously internalizes this. This becomes dangerous because when life fails to meet up to these glamorised expectations, it creates disappointment and failed relationships. No wonder the modern divorce rate is so high! Films sell this romanticised idea of romance; love at first sight, knowing someone for five minutes then deciding to spend of your life with them, (cue Frozen: ‘you can’t marry a man you just met.’) romantic love being the best kind of love. What about love for other people? I fucking love my close friends. I fucking love my brother. I fucking love my AA sponsor. I love my parents; surely the love for your child would be one of the deepest loves a human can feel?

It pisses me off the way romantic love is sold as almost ‘superior’ to other forms of love for other humans. For me, the biggest love and emotional pain I've felt from that love is through friendship. Friendship is one of the most amazing things in life, but my god can it hurt. Most of the pain that has happened to me in my life has been from my friends. I've had friends put me down, chew me up, spit me out, break my heart and walk all over me. And why do I put up with this? Because I love them. I come across as opinionated and full on and confident, particularly on this blog, but when it comes to dealing with people I'm highly sensitive and passive. It's easy for me to roll over and let a person stamp their feet all over my heart. That is why whenever I meet a person that is kind to me and low-maintenance, part of me is shocked, like do I deserve this? Why are you being so nice to me? I deserve to be treated like crap. What's the catch here? I still feel like that at times about my best girl friend and marvel at how lucky I am to have her in my life.

Society sells us unrealistic visions of love, that when not received lead to heartbreak, divorce, and things not working out. Marriage can’t function on ‘love’ alone. It requires work, commitment, compromise, tolerance, compatibility...my parents have been married for over twenty years and been together for most of that. You don’t spend twenty something years living with someone and having two kids together and have love as your only basis. Having the same values, working together as a team and making compromises all tie in to the ingredients of a successful marriage.

I would say it is best not to expect too much in terms of love. If a person becomes good friends with you or enters a relationship with you, rather than clinging onto them and thinking ‘this is the one!’ or ‘we’ll be best friends forever!’; it’s best to let it ride out and unfold in its own way.

Articles on the topic:
 http://www.brandeis.edu/magazine/2014/summer/featured-stories/disney.html

https://thoughtcatalog.com/samantha-clark/2017/06/what-disney-taught-me-about-unrealistic-expectations-in-love/

11 comments:

  1. My response to your article:

    “This becomes dangerous because when life fails to meet up to these glamorised expectations, it creates disappointment and failed relationships.”

    Except that Hollywood glamorizes *everything* and sets up unrealistic expectations for a career just the same as relationships. Also, Hollywood plays very much to the “exception to the rule” type of scenarios, where people are “chosen for greatness” even though that’s completely unrealistic. And I’m sorry to say but “unrealistic” is very popular right now, just look at all of the Superhero franchises in the last 15 years. (Not my personal cup of tea, by the way.)

    There are a lot of myths and misunderstandings in regards to the modern divorce rate:

    The divorce rate is actually going down for all age groups - except for the ones who started the divorce-boom in the first place, the Baby Boomers (even in their old age today, they are still getting divorced at high rates)! If you removed their demographic group the divorce rates are pretty low since Generation Xers and Millennials tend to take marriage more seriously.

    The Boomers expected everything to be free and easy and as a group, they are very self-centered (aka “Me” Generation). That’s the real reason why they have so many divorce problems plus they just make a lot of bad decisions over all. (And history shows that.) As you said, marriage requires “requires work, commitment, compromise, tolerance, compatibility” and also trust, respect and maturity. The Boomers didn’t really take this into account hence they divorce at high rates.

    One of the things that people never talk about is the fact that love requires maturity. This is why the VAST majority of people will never know real love when they are in high school. They are just too young.

    I agree that in a lot of ways our society does not promote or present love in the right manner but for different reasons than you. I don’t see anything wrong with the Disney films but I do think adult romantic-comedies give very unrealistic portrayals and expectations for women. The Disney films teach about strength and tolerance and patience and other timeless values. They focus on good women not letting bad situations turn them into bad women and not losing hope in their dreams – even if their dreams are of love, marriage and a second-life family.

    On the other hand, romantic comedies often show men in the most unrealistic manners and give women completely false representations of what men are really like in real life. These movies cater to women’s fantasies and usually focus on the men redeeming themselves for offending the woman in some way, usually from a selfish female point of view that doesn’t incorporate her own mistakes in certain situations etc. In addition, the romantic comedies often actually hire gay male actors to play the lead roles – talk about unrealistic expectations! The gay men tend to play better on screen and with the story-writing of romantic comedies but they definitely do not portray what most straight men are like – which are the ones most women are actually trying to date. The male characters are often written as female characters in a male’s body rather than as male characters. In addition, the male leads often look like male models. So I think romantic comedies are far more to blame than any other medium out there, on this topic.

    As far as love songs, I’m really surprised to hear you say this. Many love songs are written from the heart and written while in love. How can they be unrealistic when they are sourced from real feelings and experiences?

    The reason why romantic love is sold as almost ‘superior’ to other forms of love for other humans is because most people who have experienced it, do feel that way. It’s also what many people – even men included – acknowledge as an ultimate purpose to be on Earth: finding love and creating a new family. For many men and women, it makes their work truly pay off, as they love to share it with them.

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    1. *Or share the benefits with them.

      And all loves are important and teach us things about ourselves and others. It (hopefully) starts with family love – the ones we are born with – then moves onto platonic love – the ones we choose – and then ultimately into a hybrid romantic love that embodies both of the others and more.

      I understand why for women this kind of stuff isn’t always the most fun to hear, primarily if they haven’t experienced this love yet or lost it. On the other side, it’s not always the most fun for men to hear about other men who are far more successful than them – which they do see a lot of in the media. Rarely does the media ever talk about or show a lot of homeless men or working-class men, the media usually portrays middle class or rich men.

      (Going back to our conversations about looking at things on both sides – for men and women – I would say this: whenever you think of how something on the subject of love or romance affects women, think about how something on the subject of wealth or status affects men. When men are not successful, they lose everything: home, women, sex, kids, respect, integrity, etc. So it’s not like men don’t equally face these kinds of things as women in their own ways. The thing is that the TV nowadays focuses more on aspirations than realism. If you’ve seen films from the 1970s, you will notice that movies in that time have much more realistic qualities – less Hollywood casting and editing etc.)

      I have to say, I don’t really see what emotional pain has to do with love. Most of the pain that has happened to me in my life has been from my family because they didn’t really love me. The least of the pain that has happened to me in my life has been from my husband because he does love me. I’m not saying we’re perfect and we’ve never “hurt” each other in anyway, but it’s usually pretty minor because since we love each other, we are usually trying to help each other more so than hurt each other. That’s part of “love”.

      As you know, I don’t use the phrase “Tough Love” in my name for no reason. My husband has given me the most tough love in my life and been the most honest with me. Instead of worrying more about a short-term reaction, he cared more about the long-term well-being. (That’s part of the maturity required with love.) I believe that real friends will tell you things you might not want to hear, as long as they think it will benefit you in the long-run. (They shouldn’t just be trying to get a rise out of you just because they know how to, unless it’s in an established playful and non-malicious manner.) If you have friends that are putting you down and breaking your heart and walking over you, then I think you might want to re-evaluate if they really have the same platonic love for you that you have for them. You deserve to have friends who “love” you back.

      The most important “lesson” about love that anyone can know is this: Love is always a 2-way street.
      Without that, it’s not love. A 1-way “love” is actually puppy love or lust or affection or attraction or displacement or obsession, even. This is why no one can be in love with a sociopath for example, as they are not actually capable of loving anyone but themselves.

      I agree and disagree with your final paragraph: I do think it’s good to know what the expectations of love are so that you don’t mistake something else for it. Not sure if that is in disagreement with your sentence, “I would say it is best not to expect too much in terms of love.”

      I do agree though, that it’s best to let love “ride out and unfold in its own way”. Real love will just happen on it’s own.

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    2. As far as the articles you posted: The 1st one admits to “exaggerating the impact Walt Disney has had on our love lives, of course.” It also attributes “unrealistic messages about love and marriage” to the divorce rate which is a very narrow-minded and inaccurate guess. While it may play some small part, the bigger contributions to divorce are no-fault divorce laws making people take marriage itself less seriously as well as too many people getting married for the wrong reasons – which don’t have anything to do with Disney portrayals.

      Furthermore, the author says “The Fates will, or will not, bring Mr. Right to a woman’s doorstep, and she and her mate will, or will not, live happily ever after.” Which is in direct opposition to what you and I said about real love happening on it’s own.

      As far as the 2nd article, the author clearly misinterpreted Cinderella. It wasn’t really “love at first sight. For him, maybe, but not for her. The prince approached Cinderella and asked her to dance all night and they went out in the courtyard and danced some more. While they didn’t get to talk and delve into each other’s pasts and likes etc. They did get to experience a natural compatibility and chemistry which is a big part of love.

      I also personally take offense to the author’s claim that “The man depicted in every princess movie is merely a character created to boost societal gender roles. He does not exist.” Actually he does and I married him and I know he’s not the only one like him out there. I think it’s mean-spirited to make women think that there AREN’T good men like this out there. Then again, I also think it’s mean-spirited to tell people that “gender roles” are the result of “society” rather than biology and evolution.

      Furthermore, the one “lesson” the author did take away from Disney films was the only one that Disney was never trying to say (and is actually the opposite of what Disney was saying) “always fall for the beast. If you can learn to look past all his beastly imperfections, eventually, he will turn into his own version of a prince.”

      This is AWFUL advice and sure to set women up for VERY bad relationships. The point was not to “always fall for the beast”. The point was the same as previous Disney films: Good prevails. Belle was a good person and she didn’t just settle for Gaston because he was “the best” around geographically. She knew her worth and she had good, strong values which she held to. Her positive example and willingness to meet the Beast half-way is what helped him change and become a better man. This is very representative of what happens when men (or women) fall in love - they often start worrying about this other person more than themselves and it changes their perspective and makes them less selfish. The other point was that Belle was a good judge of character, she could see beyond the Beast and Gaston’s appearances to who they were deep inside. The Beast wasn’t always the Beast, he seemed to be an orphan who grew up spoiled – which people can grow out of and Belle helped him to do so. When the Beast rescued Belle after the first time she ran away, he almost killed himself doing so. He risked his life to save her and he didn’t have to, then she did the same in return. It was out of that selflessness that they started to talk and understand each other and hang out and find out they had chemistry and fall in love etc.

      This doesn’t at all mean to just “always fall for the beast” and for someone who is so picky about messages and portrayals involving love and unrealistic expectations, I can’t even believe the author would say something like this.

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    3. Absolutely agree with what you said about rom-coms. I hate it that they always seem to show the man making a 'minor' mistake then having to apologise to the woman and fall at her whiny feet. And it's so true that the way they present men with perfect abs and chiseled jaws is unfair to men. We deffo need to remember that women AND men have unrealistic media representations. Neither barbie nor action man are what real men/women look like. (Not saying that they should all be portrayed as fat and ugly, just saying that men get self-conscious because they don't have perfect abs or a v-line. My younger brother has always been self conscious of his body and thought himself 'too skinny' so I've witnessed this first hand).

      Oh what I meant about love songs isn't that they're unrealistic, more that I think it's a pain that there are soooo many songs about love. One from a musical/lyrical perspective that I think they're overdone and there are other topics to sing about (as you're probably aware from my other posts, I'm a musician), and from a societal perspective; I think it becomes disheartening to constantly sing about love and true love because - well this is subjective I suppose. I spent most of my teens reading chick-lit and watching rom-coms and always trying to use guys to validate me or make me feel better about myself, and I'd get crushed in the process. I think constantly singing about true love as this idealized thing contributes. Like I wish people would sing songs about love for friends or family members as well. Again, your marriage sounds wonderful and very happy so I would understand why you would relate. Here's one of my songs called 'Love Sucks': https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xylVUYEPQns&index=6&list=PLIxMHV4dDanQ7WWHGI3RE8ZuRQWBzwzqb

      In terms of emotional pain I'd say you spelled it out - your family didn't give you the love you deserved so it caused pain. In that sense I think love and hate walk a fine line, that you can 'hate' the ones you love - so many times in my life have I thought 'I hate my brother' or 'I hate my best friend' etc. The opposite of love isn't hate, it's apathy.

      And so true it is a two way street. Recently my best friend broke my heart - we've been friends for a long time, about 6 years, and I won't go into details but he basically said he doesn't want to be friends with me anymore. Luckily I do have other friends who love me and as I've gotten older I've learned more about how friends should treat each other. What I meant about not expecting too much is I don't think it's good to have super high expectations - this has happened to me so many times, like I've met a girl and thought 'we'll be besties forever' or a guy and thought 'we're gonna get married!' etc - I'm aware not everyone's thought processes are like this (also I'm an addict so my thought processes are often extreme and exaggerated), but yeah rather than expecting too much/little better to just go with it.

      I liked the first article, agree the second one is a bit weird. I think she's speaking more from a feminist perspective unlike us. I would say gender roles are both social and biological. I think when women have been hurt by men they get disheartened and don't think there are good men out there. Like my close friend was recently in a relationship with a guy and before him she was used to being with bad guys that would 'fuck her over' but this guy showed her that there are good men out there.

      It's true what she said about 'always fall for the beast' is strange. I thought it sounded a bit condescending. I guess what she meant is that real men are not 'perfect' and the good thing about the beast is his perfections and imperfections are shown and in the end Belle does help him become a better man as you said.

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  2. Well, some men do get self-conscious about their looks, of course but they do tend to get more self-conscious about wealth and status. Seeing a male model is something they roll their eyes at and maybe have the thought of going to the gym soon; Seeing an intelligent doctor who makes good money and has a “top woman” and well-respected in his community makes them feel more self-conscious (than the male model) though because it attacks their masculinity/competitive side more. This is why on the flip side, women get more self-conscious with attractive women on the screen as that attacks their femininity/competitive side more.

    Also, I really have to encourage you not to lose sight that the biggest problem of romantic comedies and literature is the inaccurate portrayal of men. They are usually written more from a woman’s perspective or fantasy so that hurts women more than any other aspect of the film, as they are watching and learning how a gay man or unrealistic man would behave rather than an average straight man. It is the opposite of empowering when we shield women from truths about straight men that they might not like, understand or agree with it but virtually every romantic comedy and book does that. One romantic comedy that I actually did like that did a pretty good job at being more realistic with male portrayal was “The Ugly Truth”. A lot of women hated or disliked that film because it was too honest and broke too many of their traditional romantic-comedy fantasies, yet it’s one of the most realistic ones ever made. Same with “He’s Just Not That Into You”.

    I never really noticed there being “soo” many songs about love. I usually listen to rock more than anything else (I love music) but I also tend to be more of a music-person than lyrical-one. Not saying I don’t appreciate the lyrics, but that I usually love songs based more on the rhythm, melody & beat etc. than the lyrics. I think there are just as many songs about finding and being in love, as there are about breaking up and losing love (and experiencing cheating) though – some of them aren’t really about real love though, as we established the differences between real love and perceived love before.

    I do see your point about how listening to great love songs would make you want to experience it and build up these hopes and dreams about it. Personally, I don’t think that’s the real problem for women so much as learning about men is, though. Most women who actually want love in their life don’t really understand men and don’t know how to make one happy or be compatible with one. Our society is constantly talking about how women feel about things and how to make them happy and how to treat them right but we never talk about the reverse for men. I think that this, more than anything else, is what hurts women when it comes to love. They expect men to come and grovel at their feet without having to put any work in – and often without knowing how to put the work in even if they wanted to.

    Unfortunately in our society, a lot of women don’t really start learning that much about how different men are until they get married. Women who have fathers and/or brothers in the home do tend to be better prepared than those who come from single-mother homes without a father, but women are also very sheltered in today’s society. Especially women who grow up middle class or better. Working class women grow up in more masculine environments so they actually tend to be more in tune with men than their wealthier peers.

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    1. I grew up mostly around women and gay men, ironically enough. My husband is the first one who really showed me how different straight men are from straight women (and even gay men). The way they think and perceive things and therefore respond and feel about things are VERY different than women, in a multitude of ways. I got along with my husband better than girly-girls (which he appreciated) but I still learned A LOT from him about the realities of what men think and why they do the things they do. My husband is able to talk to me in a very honest and open manner and we have talked about a lot regarding natural gender differences, so as to be better prepared for if/when we have children. If we have a daughter, there are a lot of things that I have taught him about females and if we have a son, there are a lot of things that he has taught me about males.

      Most women today are very sheltered and they do not experience that same bluntness and straightforwardness about things. The classic is women will say “does this make me look fat” and whether it does or not doesn’t matter, the correct answer to a woman is almost always “no” – because she’s really just asking you play along with her fantasy, not to honestly answer her question. This kind of attitude and behavior hurts women in my opinion. I don’t ask a question unless I want the honest answer to do something about it. I don’t try to force my husband to play along with my emotional fantasies – in fact, I actually ask him to help me make sure that I don’t lose touch with reality as a result of being emotional. And I will be honest, not everything that I have learned about men is ideal but it has empowered me to understand my husband better and make better decisions for us. I think more women should be taught more about men at earlier ages, as they do in other countries outside of the USA, to improve gender relations. (Of course, Feminism is totally against that though.)

      Well I was trying to ask what your connection of love to pain was? My mother caused me the most pain because she’s a sociopath who is uncappable of loving me (or anyone other than herself). It caused me pain because she did not have love for me, we didn’t have love. That’s why I said if someone is constantly causing you pain, it’s because they do NOT love you. My mom didn’t hate me or love me, it depended on her mood/situation. Sometimes I was a crutch, sometimes I was a sound board for advice, sometimes I was a babysitter, an inconvenience, a “competitor”, a chauffeur, etc. What I never was, was someone she loved. That’s why she had no problem causing so much pain.

      I’m sorry to hear about your best friend. (Did you know the average lifespan of a friendship is about 7 years? According to studies done.) It sucks to lose friends and I know it can hurt, I lost a few friends in my life as well.

      Oh ok. I think when you said “expectations”, I was thinking more in terms of “standards”. I think it’s good for people to have high standards for themselves and not to just jump onto any bandwagon because it happens to be going by at the time. I agree with you that people shouldn’t automatically expect a lifetime friendship or romance when they meet people though. That’s definitely unhealthy.

      I thought the first article was just using the Disney Princesses as a ploy to make her complaint which didn’t really have anything to do with the Disney Princesses. And again, saying “The Fates will, or will not, bring Mr. Right to a woman’s doorstep, and she and her mate will, or will not, live happily ever after.” Was in direct opposition to what you and I said about real love happening on it’s own. I have no idea what her point was, it seemed like maybe she was telling women to give up on love or go out and aggressively push for it? Confusing.

      How do you think gender roles are “social”?

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    2. “I think when women have been hurt by men they get disheartened and don't think there are good men out there.”

      Yes, I am very glad you brought this up as I think this is one of women’s biggest problems. Too many modern women do not accept accountability and responsibility for their own choices. They automatically assume they are perfect and have 0% fault in not being with the right men, yet they choose who to go out with etc. Rarely does a woman ever say, “whoa! 3 bad guys in a row?! Maybe I need to readjust how I’m picking these guys or where I’m finding them etc.?” I can’t tell you how many times I hear women complaining about how awful men are yet they only ever go out with men they meet at bars and nightclubs – the places where bad men go to look for quick releases etc. This again, goes back to better educating women about the differences between men and women etc.

      I have to say, the way the author said 'always fall for the beast' after the rant made me think they were just a bitter Feminist who wanted to push women into bad relationships to make them Feminists too; Or they had no understanding or acknowledgement of nuance whatsoever.

      By the way, did you write that "Love Sucks" song yourself?

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    3. Yeah I wrote the song myself lol. I'm a singer-songwriter. I acc wrote it with a friend in mind (the same friend who was with the nice guy after being with 'bad boys that fucked her over'.).

      I'm relieved that I grew up close to my dad and brother as well as my mum and I have a lot of male friends. I've mentioned that I've had more painful experiences with girls than with guys (although the best friend who dumped me was a gay guy. Normally when friends have fucked me over though they've been girls).
      My connection of love to pain - well using what happened to me as an example; I love him, like a brother, but he no longer loves me. That's an example of pain, a person you love no longer loving you.

      When the woman mentions 'The Fates' in the article she's actually against that idea and says it's dangerous for women to think like that. What I got mostly from it was what she was saying about marriage, and how a relationship needs to be based on more than love (using arranged marriage as an example). She refers to other cultures beginning with marriage and ending with love, rather than beginning with 'idealised' love and then divorce. I'm not saying I agree with arranged marriage or not and nor does she, just thought it was interesting to point out.

      I've seen 'he's just not that into you'; at the time I liked it but nowadays it's not my thing as I'm no longer into rom-coms and prefer dramas/thrillers/psychological/fantasy movies. However I like the fact that it tells it how it is rather than creating a fantasy. If a man doesn't call you back he's not into you. Simple. And eurgh, I HATE it when girls say 'does this make me look fat' or whatever as they just want reassurance and tea and sympathy. It's the lamest thing. We're probably all guilty of doing stuff like that.

      Regarding gender roles, I would say that primarily they're biological, like women being more nurturing (maternal instinct) and men being more protecting (tribal), and then social, such as women being expected to cook. (Silly example but work with me here lol). I don't see what's male/female about cooking. Same with cars - men and women both drive, I don't see how cars can be more 'masculine'. Or shopping or video games; some girls hate shopping and love video games, and some guys aren't into video games and take extra pride in how they look. Just little things like that. So I'd say half and half, because how men and women are expected to be varies in each society. Like in Tanzania women are still expected to fulfil the housewifely duty, whereas in Britain women can do whatever they like. Or in music; there's nothing 'masculine' about playing bass or drums and nothing 'feminine' about singing, but more women sing than play instruments although I think it's changed a lot now but historically men were more of guitarists and instrumentalists and women dancers and singers.

      Of course you COULD say that being the singer/dancer was about having people look at you and looking attractive and from a biological perspective women like to look good in order to attract mates (sexual selection). So I suppose everything has some sort of biological weighting. But I'm no scientist lol.

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    4. Yeah I know, I thought the guy writing the article was completely wrong and didn’t really know what he was talking about. To say Walt Disney was a “sexist” and a “bigot” already shows that he’s out of touch with reality and making things up to fit his emotions and/or agenda. To make such a hyperbolic statement as “Disney contributed to the failure of many marriages around the world” is just ludicrous and insane. It’s also typical Feminist manipulation to try and compare Western relationships to Eastern relationships, leaving out the fact that Eastern culture has a lot of “misogyny” in terms of pressuring women into marriages and motherhood that they don’t want and/or aren’t ready for. Some of those women make it work just so they don’t face beatings or abandonment by their families – funny that the author deliberately chose to ignore those things. Furthermore, what he said is completely contradictory. On one hand, he’s saying he’s against Disney’s portrayals of love and marriage yet on the other hand, he wants women to incorporate those same values from Disney films into their love lives more. Wow….! Many Feminists just seem to hate Disney without any good reason other than that it makes them feel inadequate or incompetent by comparison; yet kids’ tales are supposed to be aspirational and hopeful – unless he would rather use fear to keep children in line.

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    5. Yeah I really don't get why people say shit about Walt Disney. Cmon, he brought joy to people! I've heard that he was 'anti-Semitic' although I honestly don't know how true that is. Either way, he made great movies. And it's very true that Disney films aren't all about finding true love, they're about going for your dreams and finding yourself as well.

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    6. I think primarily Disney films send the message that good can overcome evil without having to succumb to it first. I think people don't like Walt Disney because he was a very successful and influential white male. Most of the rumors against his character come from Millennial SJW-types.

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