Love Is Binding: Couples Who Share Books Share One Perfect Mind
I get a kick out of hearing people say we’re the generation that has given up on love, as if our entire generation met one day (for brunch, obviously) – in a giant boardroom – and collectively decided:
"Yep, we’re done with romantic relationships. We’re gonna go with Tinder hookups – JUST Tinder hookups (and the occasional JSwipe). Now, can ya move please? You’re blocking my light. I’m trying to Instagram this piece of avocado toast.”
Let me be the first to tell you: It’s not like that. Our generation hasn’t “given up” on love (whatever the f*ck that even means).
I mean, the greater majority of our generation has never even experienced real love – so it only becomes increasingly difficult to “give up” something you’ve never actually partaken in to begin with.
Just like if you never smoked a cigarette before, I doubt you’d be walking around with Nicorette in your pockets, looking to “kick the habit.”
And we haven’t forgotten how to fall in love, either. C’mon, people. You don’t buy this sh*t, do you? You think we all just woke up one morning like: “love?... What’s that???”
Again, it’s not like that. At the end of the day, we – as a generation – really don’t choose to give love much thought.
Love implies a commitment, and commitments take patience, and Millennials apparently don’t have the time for either.
That’s my theory, at least. I don’t think we’ve “given up” on love; I just think we’ve got a number of different commitment issues and a knack for finding the “easy way” to do things.
That’s why you’ll only truly capture our interest by devising new phone apps that progressively simplify sh*t.
If you want to see who’s truly ready for love, I suppose the first step would be finding someone who’s equally ready for commitment.
And how do we do that? Well, you can start by finding someone who reads. Books, that is.
From start to finish (with no skimming).
See, to read a book from cover to back requires a great deal of commitment.
It’s easy to start a book – just like the early stages of any relationship may feel like a honeymoon – but to see it through is a completely different story (no pun intended).
Unless you’re capable of reading a book – in its entirety – over the course of one sitting (which certainly wouldn’t be unheard of), reading a book requires one to invest a great deal of time.
It’s different than a television show that you can bang out in 30 minutes.
Reading requires you to constantly make time to pick up where you left off and find the effort to not abandon ship until the very end – even if it’s a sinking vessel, which it might be.
As Juliet Lapidos, of The Atlantic, puts it oh-so eloquently, “It may be disagreeable to slog through a novel that you stopped liking after 50 pages, but it’s a sign of strength.”
She goes on to say, “Resisting the impulse to stop midway also teaches strength; it works out your mental-resilience muscles, wherever those may be.”
This notion certainly could apply to our love lives. While it might be easier to jump in and out of relationships, like Gale Sayers in traffic, with the help of dating apps like Tinder and Hinge, the ability to endure relationships that you deem worthy is also a sign of strength.
Yeah, it may be “disagreeable” to have to hash out your issues with your significant other, but in the end, it’s worth it – even if all you’re left with is the ability to say you saw it through.
People who would never put down their respective novel without a proper resolution surely wouldn’t “give up” on their love lives without one either.
But readers aren’t better suited to be lovers solely for their capacity to see things through.
I mean, a lot of failures withstand the test of time without becoming any more successful – look at the Mets.
In addition to their patience and perseverance, readers are also more understanding of other people's feelings.
In an article published in Psychology Today, Christopher Bergland explains how reading fiction can make you more empathetic.
According to Bergland, “reading fiction can improve the reader's ability to put [him or herself] in another person’s shoes and flex the imagination in a way that is very similar to the visualization that an athlete would use to activate the motor cortex and muscle memory used in sports during a mental rehearsal.”
In other words, if you read something like “Roger hit the ball with his backhand,” an fMRI would show the specific regions of your motor cortex linked with hitting a tennis ball become activated.
The reason behind this rests within the concept of Theory of Mind. As told by Bergland, reading fiction can improve one’s own ToM – which is essentially "the ability to attribute mental states to oneself – and to understand that others have beliefs, desires and intentions that are different from one's own."
By reading fiction, you’re inadvertently forcing yourself to put yourself in the character’s shoes – which will improve your ability “to understand what other people are thinking, feeling and doing.
And that’s an important trait to have. In fact, if you asked Carin Goldstein, a licensed marriage and family therapist, she’d tell you that “empathy is truly the heart of the relationship.”
In a separate article on Psych Central, Associate Editor Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S., explores the importance of empathy in romantic relationships.
According to Tartakovsky, empathy is necessary, and without it, a relationship can't last.
“That’s because empathy requires compassion,” Tartakovsky says. “And without compassion, couples can’t develop a bond.”
So, if you’re looking for love – stop blaming your generation. Pick up a book.