I really don’t know the exact source of modern society’s demented obsession with romantic love and finding another person to be with. I’d like to blame Shakespeare, but the notion started years before Romeo and Juliet flitted across the stage as starcrossed lovers. It’s undeniable though that if such a love story could transcend hundreds of years, there’s a bit of glorification in the tale. All those lovey dovey sonnets of being unable to exist without the other person? Goddamn, Shakespeare, take it down a notch. You are killing me here.
We must carefully examine the messages here. What do holidays like Valentine’s Day and pop songs tell us about love and our lives? Is our ultimate goal in life really just find someone and to start a family? Is being alone really that unfulfilling? Do we need someone else to “complete” us? Are we really not yet whole when we are without romantic companionship? Do you really believe that bullshit? That we cannot truly exist fully unless we do it in conjunction with another person? That we as single people right now are not final versions of ourselves until we meet our “better halves”?
Up until the last two years I couldn’t even relate to most of the songs I listened to because they were all about love and heartbreak. I had never experienced the reality of loving another person romantically, or of the loss incurred when I lost them somehow. They were just words to me. Nonetheless, I sang along like I knew what it meant to be heartbroken and in love anyway. Because I thought that was what I supposed to do.
The deeper idea that I am attempting to reach here is the act of loving me. It is the act of being happy in the companionship of no one other than myself. So much of our lives are spent in other people’s presence even if we’re not close to them. So much of our lives are also spent chasing after different people who we think can make us happy, can change us, can fulfill us, and can fill the empty hole of loneliness for us. And when they don’t, we lose hope. We become disillusioned. We fall out of love with them. When will we start to understand that none of our problems with living can be solved by being with someone else?
The experiences of romantic love and non-platonic ways of life are great. But they are not cure-alls. They are not solutions to our problems with our self-esteems, self-perception, and flaws. Love at its best form is supposed to add to who we are as people. It is supposed to be that extra seasoning on top of an already solid plate. We have to stop searching for people to fix us. We have to stop looking for better versions of ourselves in other people and start becoming those self-perceived versions of ourselves. We have to stop pretending that being in the company of ourselves is a sad thing to do, because it really is quite the opposite.