“I love you.”
This is an overused idea in many popular sayings today. It's what starry-eyed lovers whisper as they gaze at an ocean sunset, what 8-year-olds shout to their mothers as they sprint toward the already departing morning bus heading for school, and what teenage lovers tell each other in the heat of the moment. It's supposed to be the deepest level of emotional connection between people, yet society has transformed it into a pop-icon phrase to be screened onto glittery fuchsia tank tops and written inside Hallmark cards with pastel bunnies and butterflies dancing on the cover. The phrase, of course, is “I love you.” Love has become such as complex emotion, to the extent of which we are uncertain what it truly signifies and when it is the “real thing”.
A black and white movie, Titanic, a happily ever after and spontaneous trips to exotic destinations with your significant other, is what love signifies for a large part of the population. Everyone wants to be in love. It’s the way the universe tells us who we belong with forever and ever. Nothing could be more exciting and passionate. Our society considers falling in love to be one of the most, if not the most adventurous endeavor that can be taken on. Falling in love is very much like being faced with crashing waves of emotions and then suddenly discovering that the shore is sometimes rocky.
If a person says that they love you, they mean that they like you for who you are now and they fell in love with you because of the present you. This kind of love is temporary and will only last as long as any fairytale would. However, when we wake from the dream and are forced to set aside our views of romanticism, we are confronted with the reality of our situation: Love is not always what we imagine it to be.
But if a person says they love you, one can assume that they mean that they love you unconditionally for who you are now, who you were you in the past and who you might be in the future. When they say they love you and really mean it, you have to ask yourself if you love them too or if you are only in love with the idea of “being in love”. It is very hard to see the difference through logical thinking. These thoughts are sometimes the reason for a relationship going sour.
In seeing how complex love is, we understand that although it is important to love, it is also easy to lose yourself in emotions and therefore lose sense of reality. The longing for a destiny is nowhere stronger than in our romantic life. We are forced at times to share a life with those who cannot possibly fathom our soul. Can we not be forgiven if we believe ourselves fated to stumble one day upon the man or woman of our dreams? We all have these yearnings and long for our soulmate. Many are willing to give up their life for the one they love, while others simply do not place any value into love. Felix Adler, a German philosopher, said it best: “Love is the expansion of two natures in such fashion that each include the other, each is enriched by the other.” Isn’t that what we all look for in life?
Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare's most famous star-crossed lovers. Romeo, a young youth, was in love with the idea of being in love and Juliet, his lover, felt that she was prepared for love and was also yearning for a romantic lifestyle. In Act Two, Scene One, the two lovers discuss their plans of marriage, although it is forbidden. The two decide that they must be together, in order to be happy, as they have become so dependent on the illusion of love. Juliet says to Romeo, “Three words, dear Romeo, and good night indeed. // If that thy bent of love be honorable, // Thy purpose marriage, send me word to-morrow, // By one that I’ll procure to come to thee, // where and what time thou wilt perform the rite; // And all fortunes at thy foot I’ll lay, // And follow thee my lord throughout the world.” This is significant because in this quote we see a young girl, not yet experienced in the world, pledging herself to her boyfriend, without fully grasping the reality of the situation that it is just teenage love. Eventually, Romeo and Juliet both take their lives because they realize that they cannot be together. All the odds were against them and they gave up in life, in order to be together in death. This situation of love that we find in literature, although perhaps an exaggerated one, shows the extremes of love and how puzzling it truly can be.