Back when I was naive
Back, since it seems before time began, in the giddy days of 2003, I once had some thoughts I felt I should write down regarding everyone's favourite topic: love. I approached the topic from my usual analytical angle. Not quite sure why I'm putting this up here, but what the heck, for history's sake, here's the article. Please note, views can change over time :)
Now, I don't profess to be an expert in the area of love. As a matter of fact, I have failed rather miserably when it comes to this area of life. I am merely someone offering some commonplace experience and observations to those who might be in need of just such a thing.
I have of late however formed several strong opinions about the topic, and I would like to debunk several misconceptions. I know that there are a great many ideas out there about love, and about how it works.
These are all of course, my opinions .. and if anyone cares to debate them with me, you are free to try .. :)
Anyway, here are my two cents on the matter.
Love: The most powerful force in the universe?
I have often heard people say that love is the most powerful force in the universe. Of course, without a doubt love is ONE of the most powerful forces, but is it really THE most powerful? I submit the following list for your approval, in order of 'powerfulness':
My reasons for this ranking are according to those which affect us on an everyday basis. How many of us can say that today, we were affected by an act of Love? Maybe some of us. Probably most certainly more people were yelled at, or insulted in some fashion, hence Anger is rated higher.
Apathy is a very strong force in the universe, it is what consigns people to let the environment wallow in a pool of swill, what allows people to be swept under the rug by beurocracies, and what allows people to be used as pawns in the deadly game of war. Most certainly many more people have been affected by apathy in many ways. Myself, I am affected by apathy on a daily basis. Only one force in the universe is stronger than apathy:
I bet each one of us can think of five things that happened to us today because someone else was stupid; more importantly, perhaps we even did something stupid ourselves. This is on the top of everyone's complaint list and thus is the most powerful force in the universe. Love sits a paltry fourth to this massive behemoth of a force.
Is there 'a perfect match' for you?
From the people I talk to and the opinions that they have expressed, it seems to me that many people are under the premise that there is only one person in the whole world that is right for them, and that we are all on some kind of holy quest to find this person. A ridiculous assumption at best.
Let us examine this premise in a somewhat scientific manner. I submit that there are many people in this world that will work, and I intend to prove it by the time honoured 'proof by contradiction'.
Now let us assume that there is only one person in this world that is a perfect match for any given other person. There are roughly five billion people around the world today. Let us also assume for the purposes of our calculations that this person can be uniformly distributed around the globe. Since in our culture, we only marry one person at a time, we will cut the amount of people we have to meet to two and a half billion.
A person, even when living in a country where life expectancy is high, will probably only live (as a maximum) 100 years. If we assume this lengthy lifespan, this means that the person in question will be living 100 * 365 * 24 * 60 = 52560000 minutes. Probability tells us that (on average), we will only have to meet half of the potential sample space before we find our match, though on the worst case, the person that was meant for us will be the last person we meet.
So .. that means that on average, we will have to meet 1.25 billion people before we find our perfect match. Since we are only alive 5.25 million minutes (at best), this means that we have to meet 1250000000 / 5250000 = 238.10 people per minute, assuming that we start as soon as we exit the birth canal, and finish just before we are buried. How many of you can honestly say you have been keeping up that rate? Certainly not I. This also assumes that we can tell that we have met the right person in 0.25 seconds, a ludicrously small amount of time.
Now, since I am sitting here typing this, and since you are sitting there reading this, we can assume that we are the product of at least reasonably successful marriages, and that indeed, some people who are 'right' for each other have met, and that we are their offspring.
Under the presumption that there is only one person that is right for anyone else, there is a chance (1 / 1250000000) that any given couple will meet. Now multiply this ratio by the number of successful marriages that you know. I myself know of several. I will submit a ludicrously low number of fifty for our calculations. That's right. 50 successful marriages in the world. If we assume this, the probability of fifty successful marriages in the world becomes 50 * (1 / 1250000000) = 4.0000e-08 an impossibly low probability. This probability is about the same probability of you getting struck by a comet within the next minute.
When you factor in the fact that in our lifetime, we really only meet several thousand people at best, and that there are literally millions of successful marriages around the world, and that several cultures around the world support the concept of polygamy and polyandry, the conclusion becomes INESCAPABLE.
There is MORE THAN ONE RIGHT PERSON FOR EVERYONE.
Of course, if you are a religious person, you may hope that God, or whatever deity you worship, will send the person that is right for you to you. Even if you could convince me that you are a decent and upstanding person in the eyes of God (ha ha), I can't in good conscience believe that even GOD has the will or the attention span to micro-manage the universe and all of the cosmos, considering the sheer volumes of prayers that god receives on a daily basis.
The Off-White Knight
Another misconception I would like to debunk is that once you have found one of the people that are right for you, that this person will be perfect for you, and there will be no other problems.
We've all heard the phrase 'Love can't feed your stomach', or something else to that effect. The implication being that you can't live off love alone. Of course we all know this to be true, but somehow people still fall into this trap. I am here to tell you that your white knight will have blemishes, or that your perfect match is a person with faults.
After all, it is our faults which make us interesting.
When to get involved with someone
I can't stress this enough; don't get involved with someone in the hopes that they will fix your life. While I'm not implying that your life is broken, I just want to point out that many people seem to get involved because they do not feel good about themselves, and they hope that once this special person comes along, that they will feel good about themselves once more.
Unfortunately it doesn't work this way. If you are one of these types of people, For a short time you will feel better, but in the end your problems won't be fixed by your partner. You can't have someone else fix your own problems, especially those to do with self esteem. In the end you damage both parties, because all of the guilt and bad energy you throw at yourself will damage them too, if they care about about you at all. If you suspect yourself of suffering from low self-esteem, don't pout about it, start telling yourself that you like yourself. And if it still doesn't work, then please seek help from a professional. I have seen this happen more than once, and it's never a pretty sight.
When is a good time to get involved with someone? It seems to me that a good time and a good reason is when you are lonely; but not only that, you have to be in a position to spend a fair amount of 'quality' time with that person. Relationships aren't instantaneously perfect, you know- you have to work at them- .. which brings me to my next point.
Society's role in romance
According to Hollywood and Harlequin, we will meet the person of our dreams, they will sweep us off our feet, and then we will live happily ever after, riding off into the sunset, gag me with a spoon.
It's hard enough to meet someone that is a match- don't ruin things by expecting (even subconsciously) that things are going to be perfect. For god's sake, give them a chance. Let them make some mistakes. The sign of a relationship that is going to work are two people that are willing to iron out their differences because they want to be with each other. No two people are perfect from the get go. Don't believe me? Ask two people whose relationship you THINK is perfect. They will tell you the truth.
Society also misleads us in other ways by telling us of the hopelessness of even trying. We are TOLD that 50% of marriages end in divorce, that we should expect 'X' number of relationships to fail, etc, etc. So while we are honestly trying to find the person of our dreams, we are ANTICIPATING FAILURE. When something goes wrong (and it invariably will), we are SO primed for failure that we drop our former partner like a hot potato, all the while professing that it's hopeless.
Ask yourself this: How can you expect anything to work if you won't even give it a chance?
One big popularity contest
Especially around this time of year (Valentine's day), I am often struck by the superficial nature of Love. There is no two ways about it. Love favors the extroverted. People who are very outgoing and naturally charming will corner the market on valentines. This is especially true in our own north american society, where we are inundated with commercialism on every side- we hardly have time to think. Our relationships become much like a shopping experience; the goods that are displayed in the front move the quickest.
We introverts can either accept this fact, or do two things about it .. become more extroverted, which doesn't really work if it's against your nature, since you really shouldn't pretend to be someone you aren't in order to attract someone .. or like me- implore the world to look a little deeper. After all, hunting for a relationship shouldn't be like buying a new pair of shoes, people are complicated beasts. You have to ask yourself.. is this a good person - would they be willing to try to work things out when we run into problems, etc. It could be that Plain Jane or Plain Jake is the perfect match for you, and that if you look deeper, they might not be so plain after all.
Beware the stereotypes.
What else is there to say? Not all men are insensitive. Not all women are emotional basket cases. Sure, these observations hold true for a subset of each, but please don't generalize. And don't let anyone else tell you otherwise. You're doing a GREAT disservice to those of us that don't fit the stereotype.