What’s love got to do with it?: Considering Love Then and Now

How long do you wonder about the future? Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about it. I think about everything, from short-term to long-term–like my future surgery, how long it will take me to walk again, what classes to take during the summer, to how awesome it’ll be living in Chicago when I’m finally 21, to graduating from college, to figuring out what job I’ll land after graduation. But for this post, I’ll focus on “love“- that feeling that’s supposed to make you feel whole. And for right now, I will exclude platonic love, love you have for your family and friends. I’m talkin’ about romantic love. Romance. “True” love.

Some typical/heteronormative/ (heterosexist?) social norms that go along with the idea of “true love” include things like: How do I even meet the person of my dreams? Where? Do I marry a manly man lumberjack or the sensitive femme metro guy? Do I actually have to marry a man who’s older than me? Does he have to be taller than me? What about stronger than me?

And the anxiety-inducing questions don’t stop just there…

Will I ever get married? Have kids? Have a clear trajectory for a career path in order to have financial stability to support said kids? When is it too old to have kids? What if my ovaries shrivel up before I find the “right” person? How fat am I gonna get from child-bearing and child-rearing? How many goddamn stretchmarks can my body take? How badly will my boobs droop?

I’d like to think that a bunch of these anxieties still hold place for the “typical” woman who ends up with a man. But, with that in mind, I’d like to argue that “love” has changed. I feel like our generation, Gen Y, views love differently than our parents did. I feel like there’s a good proportion of Gen Y’ers who still want to have this “perfect” love story, this more intensely romanticized idea of love that our parents more strongly grew up with. There are so many more divorces, and it wouldn’t be surprising if this sobered up a lot of Gen Y’ers to in fact marry much later than their parents did, helping to ensure a lower divorce rate. (This definitely doesn’t apply to all of Gen Y’s parents, let’s not forget about Woodstock and hippedom).

People don’t get married as young nowadays– they don’t marry their first, second, or even third partner.  I just wish this overly-romanticized notion of love were thrown out the window because it’s definitely not for everyone, and in fact, it messes with some of my friends’ heads. Some of my friends think they’re defective in some way because they’ve never been in a serious relationship, and they’re only 20 or 21.

I also just wish sometimes that marriage weren’t such a norm. A lot of same-sex couples still can’t do it legally. Socially, it also negatively impacts people who are polyamorous or who chose to be single.

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