Let me lay out a scene for you. The setting is a magnificent ballroom- spacious, twinkling, and extravagant. All of the men are dressed in their best tuxedos and all the women are dolled up in billowy ball-gowns. A young man watches the festivities from the outskirts of the ballroom floor, when he spots a beautiful girl across the room. He pulls aside a friend, to which he whispers, “O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright. It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night, like a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear.” He later approaches her, and they fall deep into a fast-paced romance in which- long story short- they both end up killing themselves.
Now here’s another scene. This time, the setting is a sticky, humid, house in ‘The Fort’, containing hundreds of sweaty bodies that are packed shoulder-to-shoulder like sardines. Most of the college-aged party-goers are belligerently intoxicated, and probably have no clue where they are. A frat boy sees a group of girls enter the party from across the room. He turns to his bros and yells over the music, “DUDE, I THINK I MATCHED WITH THAT GIRL ON TINDER. WHAT ARE THE ODDS THAT I’M GETTING SOME TONIGHT?” His bros cheer and clap him on the back while chanting “Bet! Bet! Bet! Bet!” like its some sort of religious ceremony. He drunkenly makes his way to the girl- who he had, in fact, met on Tinder the night before. They “catch an Uber back to his place” together after less than 5 minutes of meeting each other. Don’t you just love a pair of star-crossed lovers?
Several generations ago, people tended to follow a routine. Meet someone at a young age, marry them at a young age, and have a family at a young age. People typically didn’t divorce, live the ‘single life’, or go through multiple partners. I’d say that people would marry someone not because they were in love, but more for stability and the pressure to start a family. Although I disagree with a lot of the opinions that older generations give regarding millennials, I will agree with this—millennials are wildcards. This generation seemed to open a brand new realm of possibilities—there are possibilities for gender, sexual orientation, childlessness, the single life… the ways of living are plentiful. People used to think it was sad or embarrassing to be single in your thirties and forties—there was even a movie poking fun of a man (who looks oddly like Steve Carrell) for being a 40-year-old virgin! Now, it is more acceptable to be independent and live your own life before you settle down. TIME Magazine, The Huffington Post, Vice, and Forbes all recently published articles about how a lot of people in the millennial generation are postponing, if not refusing marriage. Even my sister and I have talked about postponing marriage to travel the world. I'm sure my great-great-grandmother would be turning over in her grave.
So I guess the question still stands: has “love” gradually lost its meaning? Or was it too romanticized in the first place? What people constantly forget is that the dictionary provides more than one definition of the word. It could mean “to feel a deep romantic or sexual attachment to someone,” however, it could also mean “an intense feeling of deep affection.” In the second definition, it is never explicitly stated that the relationship should be romantic. I love my family. I love my friends. I love my dogs, music, and making art. I think that this type of love contributes to who I am as a person, and is therefore just as (if not more) important than romantic love.
As for romantic love, I don’t think that it is dying. Dating culture is changing so rapidly it is almost unfair to compare it to previous trends/styles of dating. I think that no matter how you look at it, dating will always be relative to the time period. And when the technology evolves, relationships and dating evolve—I’m pretty sure Romeo and Juliet never really wanted to “Netflix and chill.”
I often hear people say that “chivalry is dead” but isn’t that what people have been wanting? A change in expectations out of relationships? I sure hope that chivalry is dead.. that term is soooo 500 AD.
As American author Leo Buscaglia once said, “love is always changing and, unless we stay aware and change with it, it eludes us.” I think it is often thought that a new, modern “version” of love is so unfamiliar and uncomfortable to some that it is automatically dismissed and considered wrong. Maybe it’s the influence of social media, or the various ways that love is portrayed in movies and books. Maybe this progression is just inevitable, happening with or without these outside influences. I guess there is no way to really know for sure why love is changing. All we know, and all we really need to know, is that love is a powerful yet relative perspective that is- and undoubtedly will continue- to change.