Love (in four acts)

Frankly I’m sick of hearing about love. But it’s the main thing everyone in the universe is infatuated with. No matter the flavor, isn’t everything that causes existence a manifestation of the same root? The same springboard of love? Bah!!!

But still, let’s talk about romantic love again, even though I know nothing about it.

As an immature young whipper-snapper on the quest for idealistic romance, I tended to rationalize or theorize about love, about how it should work out best, or how I might be able to find a “soul mate”. Following this blind idealistic view, I remember I tended to categorize potential mates on a grid with two axis: “X” indicated pure physical attraction and “Y” was personal compatibility, understanding, chemistry, emotional resonance, etc.

Thus my dorky teenage model was: (optimal attraction) x (optimal personal compatibility) = (love of life)

Obviously the problem with this simplistic model is that there are no clear divisions between physical attraction and emotional/individual personality compatibility. Nor is there necessarily any reason for any two people to fall in love without a pretext under which to meet or befriend each other. Isn’t this why so many people fall in love after going through a serious or difficult ordeal together? It’s the same as a bond made between soldiers who live and fight together, really.

In fact, I find that this is a real problem with online dating services, that there is no motivation and no spontaneity to breathe romantic life into potential courtships. Dating services tend to categorize matches based on shallow personal interests and likes/dislikes, when love is not something you can gauge. And the things most of us write about ourselves are too one-sided or dishonest to be particularly useful in a romantic dating service search.

But people want company. I understand. I can’t blame ’em, really, since I feel that way too on occasion. The real tricky thing about love, and life in general, is that your perspective of it changes over time. And love itself changes with age and maturity. When sexual feelings are strongest it is most related to physical attraction or emotional chemistry, and later in life it often becomes a product of compatibility or peer admiration.

In my current dorky system of love analysis, I like to separate romance into four stages, representing the four seasons:

(1) Spring/youth — Here love is driven mainly by a physical, sexual attraction and lustful urges.

(2) Summer/young adulthood — This kind of love is accompanied by emotional longing, explosive chemistry and new realizations about what makes another person sexually alluring.

(3) Autumn/adulthood — Here the idea of romance factors in one’s lifestyle, moral upstanding, personal compatibility (i.e. things outside of mere shared interests) and mutual longterm goals.

(4) Winter/old age — I think in the final evolution of romance, before it returns to pure physical attraction, it is about simple companionship. Here I think people become less critical of each other’s interests or physical qualities and merely crave good company.

These are all slightly different manifestations of love, and I’d surely have argued at one point in my life that so-called “youthful love” is just attachment to lust. But to that extent, all of these categories are lustful attachments! I think the reason so many people don’t easily fall in love for extended periods of time these days, or the reason divorce rates are so high, is because people think about their choices too much. We’re too judgmental of each other. A plethora of choices and opportunities makes the attention span suffer.

But, eventually people become old and the final stage of love descends. There’s no escape from these sentiments if you seek to “fall in love” with another human, but it becomes harder to meet people as we age, so it’s a good idea to factor in all of these long-term interests when searching for intimacy.

***

Soon I grew and happy too
My very good friends and me
We’d play all day and Sally J.
The girl from number four
And very soon I begged her,

“Won’t you keep me company?”

Now marriage is an institution sure
My wife and I, our needs and nothing more,

all my friends by a year, by and by disappear
But we’re safe enough behind our door.

I flourished in my humble trade
My reputation grew
The work devoured my waking hours
But when my time was through
Reward of all my efforts my own limited company

I hardly noticed Sally as we
Parted company
All through the years in the end it appears
There was never really anyone but me

Now I’m old I puff my pipe
But no one’s there to see

I ponder on the lesson of
My life’s insanity
Take care of those you call your own
And keep good company

Queen; “Good Company” from A Night at the Opera

Advertisements

2 Responses to “Love (in four acts)”

  1. What a great post, I couldn’t agree more. In addition, when “compatibility” is seen as more valuable, needed, etc….than sex……knowledge of personality type can be key. I’m at that stage of life where “compatibility” is more important than sex….believe it our not (I’m 60) and my wife and I are opposite personality types at the core. It is very difficulty indeed, I am a re-married widower and maybe did not pick as well as I could have….we are not that compatible….the “type” (personality type ala Myers-Briggs) will tell.

    Enjoyed the post!
    Regards,
    ken

  2. Hey Ken, thanks for the kind words and for stopping by.

    Yeah, Myers-Briggs tests seem like they are helpful in determining personality types, but at the same time such a method cannot tell everything. Modern psychology survey practices still function a little bit like astrological divinations.

    But even incompatible people learn to care about each other if they’re together for a long enough time. That’s why social groups full of different people still have a sense of community.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: