Not a day goes by that I don’t come across at least one article that attempts to break down the complicated process of love. Whether it addresses the hook-up culture in general, one-night stands, dating in college, the push for independence or the promotion of young love, I see it daily.
I have a rather in-depth understanding, in my opinion, on the topic, due to my exhausting need to question it constantly. That’s what writers do: observe, analyze, question and try to make sense of concepts to shed light for those who read our work.
What I have come to realize through my writing process is that we set ourselves up for complete romantic disappointment almost everywhere we turn.
There is such an extensive amount of literature on the topic of love because we all possess a desperate need to understand and master it. However, this is foolish; although love may conquer all, it is not something to be conquered.
The issue of today’s hook-up culture is of particular interest to me. Our generation’s attempt to promote independence and sexual freedom while simultaneously harboring a negative feeling regarding the hook-up culture presents an alarming contradiction.
We are supposed to break down the double standards, embrace our desires and refrain from obsessing over numbers to act on what feels right. The antiquated values of traditional courtship are growing to be more archaic by the day for today’s youth. Yet, with this modern approach to courtship (if you could call it that) comes a certain reckless approach to love.
We are vulnerable to losing our grasp on romance entirely. We often settle for strictly casual conquests, rationalizing that it’s simply the status quo. We believe that whoever cares less in the relationship holds the power and the upper hand. We trap ourselves in a vain and inauthentic power struggle.
While I am all for independence and breaking double standards, I am aware that it is easy to get sucked into the socialized “shoulds” of hook-up culture and lose sight of what you truly want for yourself, which is the crux of the problem.
Instead of acting how we want, we have the tendency to feel defined by the rules by which we begrudgingly abide. We have allowed love and romance to become a play for power made up by fleeting flings of misguided passion and intent. I know the games; I have played them and have been played by them.
I have fallen into relationships with which I wasn't entirely comfortable and found myself conflicted in understanding my values and the reality of relationships today. I have been a part of both successful and unsuccessful attempts at love, casual flings and everything between. Although I may think I have a pretty exact understanding of who I am in the romantic regard, I am just as clueless as everyone else.
We are constantly working to identify every type of lover and relationship so we can offer up instructional advice on how to approach and survive it. But, aren't we missing the point to some extent?
Love will never be defined or entirely understood because it is entirely biased. We cannot possess it; we can only feel it. We can speak in terms of vast generalizations and observations, but it will never be a perfect system.
So, instead of getting to the real root of it all, we have been nurturing a generation that is afraid to love. We owe it to ourselves to stop accepting it. We treat love as if it is an exact science, as if it exhibits observable facts. This misstep in our attempt to understand love is what creates the contradictions we see in the process.
Do not let any culture or complication lead you to forget the kind of love you want because love is essentially what makes us who we are. We are not slaves to socialization, so if a certain dating norm doesn't work for you, screw it. Just because things are a certain way for some people doesn't mean you have to accept those ways for yourself.
To act in self-empowering way, we must act in accordance with what we really want, not with what other people view to be empowering. Regardless of your approach to find love, someone will have something to say about it.
Be strong and maintain your values, regardless of what anyone thinks. Do not settle for any less.
The only way to ensure happiness is to identify what makes you happy and then pursue it fearlessly. Don’t allow me, or societal "norms" dictate how you should love. Ultimately, this matter is entirely up to you. Embrace it.
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