Have we ever questioned ourselves- “what is that source from where we learnt about love, relationships and desires?” Most of us, especially Indians, have seen this in our often dysfunctional Indian rom-com movies which technically always had the same plot. ‘Love’, ‘relationships’, ‘passion’- these words in our society are never deliberated upon, and it is not because of privacy but the social stigma attached to expressing oneself freely that curtails these kinds of discussions.
Is today’s love, everything is about that typical kind of ‘Aashiqui’ shown to us. Today, there are no labels to tag love. It comes in all forms and sizes. Each has its own way to navigate companionship and closure. In this article, we have tried to see how our generation is dealing with love as a concept amidst so much noise and pressure about one’s identity, sexuality, gender, love and marriage.
In this capitalist world, it is argued that people have become selfish and self-centred, rushing to increase one’s wealth and power. But is this what we call self-love? It is important to think of the future, as all of us cannot become altruistic and renounce everything and just #liveinthemoment. But are we really happy and doing something solely for ourselves? Well, we are not giving any life mantras or goals here, neither are we any kind of motivational speakers. We are as confused and messed up as you are. So let’s trace from where the problem originated?
Maybe, this has something to do with our social conditioning since childhood. From dancing in front of uncles and aunts in a function to aiming for the best grades and position in the society- all actions have been dictated to us by someone. In a masculinist and chauvinistic society, roles and values are predetermined. Career, love life, family, culture- all relationships are ‘necessary evils’. They are part of our heart and soul but shouldn’t be too close enough to invade our own personal identity. If we closely watch our day to day activities we can measure how much we contribute to our personal growth.
We can resolve ourselves to be curious to learn and try new things. Self-love cannot just be merely defined. It is a process of self-preservation and living each day fruitfully. Thinking about yourself is not a crime. We all are in a rush, but at least once in the entire day we should let go of things and just be us.
Once we are ready to accept ourselves, we need to ask this question: are we free to love whoever we want to? Men- women, black-white, right-wrong, we did quite easily and categorically separated them while seeing society through our binary lenses. With time, our lenses have expanded to accept differences around us though still, the concept of love is blurred and defined quite narrowly.
Popular media like movies, songs and ads have given unwanted attention to this conventional kind of love which has left various sections of the people vulnerable. Many today are not comfortable in their own skin, are confused about the needs of their body. This has happened because of our black and white perception of everything. But many have now started defying this tendency.
Millennials are now enjoying and expressing love in their own ways. Some have crossed the gendered boundaries and are fulfilling their deepest desires whether in committed, romantic relations, polyamory or multiple partners or in long distance. It really does not matter! We are from childhood taught to repress our sexual desires and consummation is assumed to be possible only strictly after marriage. Another goal we are yet to achieve is that there are no rules nor any specific roles. Rules are consensual and decided by the people in a relationship. Roles such as men have to ‘make the first move’, some women are ‘marriage material’, others ‘girlfriend material’, these statements bind us into behaving in an artificial manner.
Passion, lust and desires cannot be suppressed and locked up. It is the ultimate freedom that an individual in the so-called free society is yet to achieve. Love can be with anybody and at any moment, but there must be no pressure to accept unless you are ready for it.
Today spaces around us like lawns, porches, gardens, playgrounds have all squeezed up, but in this congestion, our hearts are all alone. So where to find your kind of love? To spice up and to resolve the dating conundrum, the virtual world has now taken the baton and is now our new Cupid. In one sense, online dating and arranged marriage are quite the same, i.e., checking one’s profile and selecting the right match or rather ‘the correct candidate’. The difference comes in its contract where the former begins and ends with a swipe and the latter with money, family and traditions.
So to speak, online dating has opened up many new avenues, from meeting people to overcoming temporary emptiness or boredom. There is no problem in trying different platforms to explore, but attaching all expectations to it to meet ‘the partner of my life’ is too much pressure. This pressure can make the experience quite bitter, as the fantasy bubble bursts and reality hits really hard. But yes we have come a long way, from sending letters to sending DMs, however, the old school romance has still not rusted.
After all this, the question that comes up is how to navigate love and separate it solely from passion and bodily pleasure? Everything in life is entwined like a loosely tied knot folded over itself both forwards and backwards. Nothing stands alone on its own and this idea also applies to our understanding of intimacy in love- what it is and what we desire to experience in life.
The word ‘Intimacy’ is often mistakenly associated with just the physical, sexual union of partners, however, the concept runs much deeper and involves both emotional and physical closeness and openness. Intimacy is all about consensual pleasure by winning trust and removing inhibitions.
It is both a psychological and biological need where respect, more than romance is the foundation of all our feelings.
In times when we have the luxury of living in splendid isolation, a satisfying romantic relationship is one where the partners try to understand each other’s emotional chase, mental keenness and physical pain.
So finally, love as a concept does not have any fixed definition. It is often regarded as a feeling but is more of an action, a verb, never driven by selfishness, the expectation of return, reward or reciprocation. Love is all about caring, sharing and giving all we can to the other.
When love appears it’s not how we might have imagined it to be, but a lot messier and a less too simple. It can at times be complicated and resemble a deck of cards which often starts with diamonds and hearts but ends in clubs and spades! And maybe today you are not ready for love or love is not ready for you. Maybe you’re protecting yourself from being hurt… and the protection keeps you from trusting love when it shows up.
But remember whenever love arrives, welcome it and make yourself comfortable because there’s nothing more beautiful than ‘being in love’.