It’s not romance that’s dead, it’s us.
And obviously I don’t mean that in a literal sense, but in a metaphorical sense. This generation of millennials is struggling to find love, and it’s not for lack of trying.
Our favorite bands are singing songs of unrequited love and we’re making really vague posts on social media in hopes that someone else will love that book as much as we do and something, anything will bud from a single direct message, but sometimes, it just never seems to come full circle. And why is that?
I’m 20-years-old, and I’ve never been in a real-life, legitimate relationship. Weird periods of time where I’ve been weirdly close to a boy for no reason? Of course. Really intense crushes? Absolutely.
I’ve been on Tinder and Bumble; I’ve let friends leave my phone number on receipts at restaurants; I’ve been on awkward dates with coworkers (which then leads to very awkward work, but it’s fine, everything’s fine).
And it’s not like I’m failing to make any sort of connection with anyone. I’ve met other writers, people who are interested in the same music and “no-kids” lifestyle. I’ve met people who make me laugh and feel comfortable and whose presence I truly enjoy.
But the problem, I think, is that the idea of love is being streamlined with such intensity throughout media and society that everything that I’m feeling with these boys seems like it isn’t valid.
I don’t think I’ve ever been in love. I love my best friend more than the world and I would be lost without my family. I know how to love, but I don’t know how to be in love.
And I don’t believe in love at first sight, or first date, or even first week or month.
I think love is something that grows: it starts with a seed of attraction that buds into something bigger, and better, and beautiful.
But the problem is we’re not always giving it the time it needs to grow.
We’re not always taking the time to feel out a relationship and make sure we really, truly vibe with someone. We find one or two characteristics that we like about someone and we roll with it.
We’re watching all of these romantic comedies on Netflix and reading books like Twilight that throw the idea of immediate love connections at us and we’re trying to force that on our real lives.
It seems that the minute we meet someone, we’re trying to mold a life together. We’re getting drawers in each other’s apartments and hanging out every single night and trying to change ourselves to fit in with them and their friends.
We’re losing our sense of self and reality because we are so desperate for love, but half of the time, it isn’t even there.
And I’m just as guilty of all of this as everyone. I’ve been head-over-heels one minute and completely disinterested the next because I processed that, ultimately, this situation that I rushed into isn’t what I really wanted: it’s just what I thought I wanted.
And each time this happens, the realization dawns on me that I’m not really in love, and I’ve never been heartbroken. I’ve been mildly upset, I’ve been distraught, but I’ve never cried over the end of a romantic endeavor or really even think about it for more than a day.
I know damn well that I’m not the only one going through this. I’m not the only one feeling fleeting senses of connection and I’m definitely not the only one who doesn’t care when a so-called “flirtationship” comes to an end.
But although I’m okay with the way that all of this is, it sucks watching my friends fall in love and get engaged and build something with someone. But it’s also unnerving to think about the fragility that lies within the love that they have, and constantly worrying that their honeymoon phase of festive gift baskets and exciting sex will come to a tragic end because what they think is love, isn’t.
Love is real. It’s whole and it’s wonderful, but it’s something that takes effort. It’s not as easy as bonding over hobbies and going to the movies.
It’s something that takes time and effort and reciprocation.