It’s Valentine’s and you can smell love in the air. The extended winter chill has not been able to dilute the enthusiasm of the lovebirds. The Valentine’s Day buzz is loud and clear on college campuses, malls, hotels and clubs at least in the metropolitan cities. St Valentine’s Day has become extremely popular in India and with each passing year, the euphoria only seems to increase.
Newspapers and magazines are full of stories with entire supplements devoted to the subject. From finding love on the Net to youngsters learning to play the guitar to woo their girlfriends, from extravagant gift ideas to special Valentine’s Day hotspots… media is doing it’s job of giving all possible tips and help for that perfect Valentine date.
Even staid adults are being sucked into this barrage of marketing. Log on to any form of media and you will find it full of Valentine’s Day quotes, recipes, facts and even clip art! This article is not about questioning the trend… Valentine’s Day is here to stay and as time goes by, it will only percolate down to smaller cities and towns. It’s also not about being a moral policeman and accusing western sabotage on our culture. Valentine’s Day instead provides a perfect opportunity to explore the changing definition of love and romance with respect to today’s generation.
The years gone by show depth of true romance, when love was against all odds, marriage next to impossible, and sacrifice imminent. Modern era, newer thoughts, a shrinking globe and a broader outlook have changed the concept of love.
Living in an e-age, romance has come a long way from the days of Romeo-Juliet and our very own Laila-Majnu. Today’s generation can find love at the click of a mouse. “Love at first sight” is “Love @first site”. Anything is possible and distance certainly is not a hindrance. Love as an expression has a wider expression than ever before. Lovers can send love quotes and lyrics with bouquets of red roses, heart shaped chocolates and balloons, specialised gifts available in every second shop or on the Internet without adult or parental intervention and guidance. The place and time of delivery of gifts and flowers, too, are usually pre-determined and prior instructions given. So, what is missing in the love stories of this decade? Are these relationships as romantic and enduring as the traditional relationships of yesteryears?
The psychology of love clearly differentiates between “falling in love” and “being in love”. The famous psychologist Carl Jung said this about falling in love: “We fall in love against our will. Our hearts suddenly go off on crazy paths of their own, leaving our cool collected minds aghast and struggling vainly to maintain law and order”. Whereas being in love is the stage when blinders come off and love can be looked at more as a choice.
There are essentially three stages to love:
Stage 1: Lust
Stage 2: Attraction
Stage 3: Attachment
When we fall in love the first two stages are at play. But attachment is what takes over the attraction if the relationship is going to last. Attachment is the longer lasting commitment and is the bond that keeps couples together for lifetimes. This is called being in love. Teenagers today are happily falling in love at the drop of a hat, but they are also falling out of it probably at the same pace if not faster. They find the excitement and newness of the infatuation stage fun and thrilling.
They are not able to differentiate between falling and being in love. The big aspect missing in the great love stories of this decade is probably the dedication and sincerity of Romeo’s love for Juliet or his perseverance. Relationships have become more casual and easygoing. They are mostly about fun and flirtation. Many teenagers are, in fact, dating as a way to fit in with the societal scene. They are just happy because they are not single and have someone to hang around with.
They find nothing wrong in a relationship that’s just based on attraction, but are not ready to have deeper emotional ties.
This is what prevents relationships from graduating from the attraction to the attachment phase. The connection does not deepen to include qualities like commitment and loyalty, the cornerstone of the greatest of all great historical love stories.
Love has come a long way since the days of Laila and Majnu, but the greatest ode to St Valentine’s on this day would be to make the relationships long-lasting, enduring and resilient.
(Anisha Motwani is Executive Vice President – Marketing with Max New York Life Insurance.)