A young couple I know were arguing the other night about love. Specifically, one of them held the position that love ends at divorce, while the other was equally insistent that love didn’t need to end at divorce.
The point hardly seems worth arguing for the truth is obvious: It’s certain some couples who divorce are not in love, while other couples who divorce are in love yet somehow incompatible (the whole notion that you can be in love yet still not be compatible doesn’t seem to occur to most young people — I think you need a few more years and to have seen it a few times to realize it’s quite common). So, why were they arguing it?
I might speculate it’s because our society — actually, our popular culture — has such a narrow view of love and relationships. From Hollywood we learn that a couple who love each other never divorce unless they are going to remarry by the film’s end. We also learn true love overcomes all difficulties, life is meant to be lived for love, and no one is better off single than in a relationship. Popular music and romance novels pretty much tell us the same things. If that’s all you’ve been taught to expect of love and relationships, it is small wonder you might argue over whether love ends at divorce.
Real life is much richer than the cartoons of love and relationships presented to us by popular culture. So, I thought I would list a few scenarios that are not typically portrayed in popular culture:
- You can love someone you’re incompatible with, and many people do.
- Most often, there’s no reason or explanation for why you love someone: You just do.
- So very often lovers part because they cannot overcome some difficulty having little or nothing to do with love or even with psychological compatibility, such as a difference between them of race, age, lifestyle, or religion.
- People can and do love more than one person.
- There is no guarantee the greatest love of your life will marry you.
- People in love with each other can prefer to live apart.
- Divorced people can still love each other, and yet not wish to remarry.
- Not all love is constant — many times love comes, goes, and returns like a breeze.
- The most significant thing about love is surely not how long it lasts, and merely how long a relationship lasts proves nothing in itself about the quality of love in that relationship: After all, mere co-dependencies tend to last forever.
- Most people, at one time or another, will confuse love with emotional dependency.
- Some people can be much happier single than married.
- Not everyone who loves, loves well, nor ever learns how to love well.
- The intensity of one’s feelings does not necessarily indicate the quality of one’s love. Just because you love intensely does not mean you love well.
So, what other scenarios that aren’t typically found in popular culture have I forgotten here?