It’s February, and love is in the air! At least, that is what the Edible Arrangements television advertisements and the Shane company Fine Jewelry radio promotions claim. Valentine’s Day is the annual celebration of romance and love. Personally, I think the aggressive monetization of the holiday nullifies its sanctity and value; if you love someone, show them you love them all year! However, this all begs a very important question: what are the true implications of being in love?
If you ask a biology major what love is, they might explain some brain chemical nonsense that will only confirm that the love potion episode of Rick and Morty (Rick Potion #9) is a possibility. If you ask an author, they might feed you a philosophical explanation ending with, “if you know, you know.” If you ask my cousin, he would most certainly offer a different sort of explanation, as his one true love is physics (this one, I cannot relate to). The cynic in me wants to exclaim, “love is fake! It’s all fake!” but I would be lying if I said I don’t buy into the “true love” and “soulmate” tropes
that society propagates.
One of my best friends told me her sociology professor suggested that love was the opposite of power. More specifically, the contention was that to be in love was to be powerless, even in its purest form. This realization floored me, the idea that an alternative to power is love. The sacrifices that people make for love, the adjustments that people make for loved ones are inherently compromises of their power.
An example in popular media is Jack and Rose in Titanic. Could Jack have stayed with Rose on the door and tried
to survive? Did Jack have the power to shove Rose off the door and use it to survive the shipwreck himself? Though that would make for a very different film, he did have that power and chose not to exercise it in the name of love. He gave up and compromised that power for the woman he loved. A more modern example could be made in the context of gender roles and domesticity. In numerous heterosexual partnerships, mothers make the choice to stay home and/or put their careers on hold in order to care for children.
While these decisions are usually guided by gender roles and societal expectations, they are often defended in the name of love.
These mothers love their children and are thus willing to sacrifice for those children, but is this not a compromise on power? Whether one finds it worthwhile or not, to do so is a loss in career advancement and monetary standing, which are a means to power in contemporary society.
If one is in love, are they inherently powerless? Are they powerless over their actions or powerless over their words?
More than questioning logic and power, I think the real contention at hand is whether love is truly something to covet. If love makes one act without reason, is it really something to desire? If love means a loss of individuality, is it something worth seeking?
Society pushes us to seek validation in other people, whether that be through romantic relationships, platonic relationships, or familial relationships. However, at what point is wanting for love synonymous with being incapable of loving oneself?
If an individual is looking for love, perhaps it is due to a lack of self-love; they are all but forced to seek it from an outside source.
Although, all of that aside, I still want to find the Darcy to my Elizabeth.