As I scroll through my Facebook newsfeed, I see someone has linked an article entitled ‘10 Reasons Why This Generation is Losing the Ability To Be in Love’. Regrettably, I click on it. What I am greeted with is 1391 words on why our generation is a mess. (That is, apart from the writer of course, who knows what’s what).
The claim? We don’t understand love any more, and are moving away from those healthy “conventional takes on romantic, loving relationships”. Fittingly, the article begins with a heterosexual couple sitting in a field, the man looking off into the distance as the woman rests her head on his back. How sweet.
And so I reach number one on why we can’t feel anymore:
1. We care more about instant gratification than anything else. Interesting. If we want food we order or go out. This confused me a little, as I am very used to observing students lugging Tesco or Sainsbury’s bags back to their respective homes. But I must be wrong. Put your saucepans away, you won’t be using them. If we are bored, we only turn to phone apps. And if we need directions then we ask our phone. To get places this is infinitely more effective, but apparently that is just simply not the point. It’s not the point because these modes of instant gratification, which may seem helpful, actually seep into our love lives. Like a disease. He doesn’t say how, but they do.
2. We’ve built a culture driven by drugs and booze. Okay, yes, some of us like to drink and/or dabble. But apparently they are our medication. We turn to substances. And these are love’s “worst enemy”. Because they give us the illusion of an alternate reality. In this reality, we believe our emotions are “heightened”. Hangovers are not for complaining about our antics, they are the weight of believing we are absent from a superior substance reality where we can love greater. Oh Gin, let me escape to my portal of love once more.
However, the author knows the reality. And he tells us that oh no, this is not love.
3. We sleep around a lot. Okay. Most individuals have “multiple partners every year”. The author likes sex, he confirms, but having sex outside of a relationship only makes you feel “empty”. Nope, it’s not liberating. All it does is make you feel alone. AND worse than that, it stops you from finding love. You are not just wasting your time having sex, when you could be searching for your soul mate, but you are turning sex into a SPORT. And when that happens, ”Good luck trying to make love.” Because once you’ve slept around, sex stops being special ever. It is “trivial”. You will never love. You will start going to ‘sex’ practice, and buy a metaphorical sex racket, and you will be alone. “Good luck”. (That’s nice that he wishes you luck though.)
4. We’re becoming even more egocentric. He admits this is part of human nature, but the problem is nowadays we are failing to feel empathy. Relationships, he points out, are a lot like communities. And when we are so self-obsessed, how are we meant to be successfully in a relationship?
5. We date for the sake of dating. Apparently this is a 2000s thing. No, Austen, get back in your grave, you are wrong. There was no compulsive courting, no desperation to get daughters married. Nope, it’s only now that dating has become excessive. It’s not just sex that’s a sport. So is dating. And it’s stopping us from finding love.
6. We aren’t fans of compromises. He doesn’t really explain why or when we apparently evolved to this state, but we have. And in a relationship we are just as greedy and narrow-minded.
7. We believe in fairytale endings. Apparently Disney was the beginning of fairy tales. And that taught us what love is. But this is giving us “incredibly inaccurate” expectations. Cinderella getting a carriage from a pumpkin? Guys, it’s just not going to happen. We are doomed to question our love, when we can’t ever achieve walking off into the sunset in our tiaras.
8: We’ve been fooled into believing perfection is attainable. We are all looking for someone perfect, and to be perfect. Sure, perfection can be pretty desirable. But when did that become an issue specifically of our generation?
9. We’re goal-driven, and often forget our partners. Another claim which astounds me in its impressive lack of examples. We do not understand what is valuable. Instead, we put off finding someone to love until everything else is 100 per cent tickedy-boo. (Whilst still somehow managing to adhere to 5. and dating manically). He isn’t “sure why no one realises finding a partner is the most importance piece of the puzzle”. The puzzle of life that is. Drop your ambitions. First you need to be settled in love, THEN you can write that novel, research ion-imaging photo dissociation dynamics, or go travelling. Duh.
And the happy conclusion?
10. Most of us are really bad at loving. It turns out we can’t get a grasp on love. And if we can’t understand it, we will never be happy. He fails to point out that there is no single type of love, and its complexity, elusiveness and individuality between person and people is the most wonderful thing about it.
A final footnote: Perhaps my sardonicism is a tad too harsh. Or perhaps it’s encouraging that this list does not hysterically strike my (ever diminishing) heart. I’m too busy happily feeling emotions, and I am pretty damned sure I am not the anomaly on this.