[ Nellie N Manpoong ]
This is going to be something of a dampener for those looking forward to Valentine’s Day, which is just around the corner. Just so that we set things straight at the beginning, I’ll start by saying that this is also going to be personal.
I used to be a hopeful romantic; had always believed in the fairytale endings of cheesy romantic movies. Bollywood movies like Dil to Pagal Hai and the 2004 Hollywood romantic-comedy 50 First Dates had me believing that I would bump into that ideal stranger on Valentine’s Day someday, or that someone would make the effort to remind me how much they loved me every single day.
However, the past few months have been eye-opening. I have developed a cynical view of relationships and marriage, and have started questioning everything I used to believe in.
There was a time when taking a stroll together in public meant a tacit declaration of the couple in question being romantically involved. People made the effort to send several pages long love letters in hopes that the letter would be responded to, even if it meant waiting for months on end. People would wait for hours by the phone because someone had said they would call at 10 am – no sooner, no later.
However, as Bob Dylan once observed, the times they are a-changing, and love and relationships have become more complex than ever before. And shorter, at least in terms of the assiduity one exercises in conveying one’s feelings of intimacy. Why waste paper on ridiculous love letters or cards or waste time on phone calls when you can send short texts through your fancy mobile phones?
While I do not reserve the right to judge the relationships of others, whether they know it or not, stories of their incompatibility, or of their indifference towards the existence of their partners, have set an example for people like me and for others around them.
Some say they are ‘stuck’ with their partners, while some say their partners ‘changed over time’. There are those who cheat on their partners even when they are in a ‘happy’ relationship, and then there are the stories of how the one they still have feelings for is ‘the one that got away’. These, in my opinion, are a truckload of garbage. We tend to romanticize the ones that got away because we aren’t tied to them for the rest of our lives, period.
Also, don’t forget about the online dating apps. These apps try to convince us that the ‘love of your life’ is waiting for you like hundreds of kilometres away from your location. Do they work? Maybe; maybe not. On the other hand, while we enjoy ridiculing young love, adults are no better in maintaining relationships. In fact, they are worse, because their love is built on the foundation of status and convenience.
Apart from the instances of such relationships, society in general has set poor examples for the singles. Relationships are now based on individualistic goals, and are less about the old-fashioned ways of trusting, caring and sharing with those outside our immediate circle of family and friends.
More people these days are deciding on living on their own and do not want to take on responsibilities or even share them. A man is scared of having to take the responsibility of a new person (wife) in their life and, in most cases, the responsibility of the family of this new person. On the other hand, a woman has her own fears of losing her individuality and having to start a whole another life once she is married. There are also instances of fear of growing a beer belly and running out of eggs pushing many men and women, respectively, into terribly wrong relationships.
The society has become money- and success-oriented, and has pushed individuals towards achieving their materialistic goals while relationships have taken a backseat. Those who are setting these examples forget that the next generation may have to face the litter left behind by us.
Of course, there are those who are in happy relationships, with some days of struggle. They are the ones who keep our hopes alive. And while we like to be cynical about love and relationships, we cannot deny that a small part of our heart wants to have an old-fashioned relationship involving all the things we love to mock. The only thing stopping us from making a public declaration of our relationship is the embarrassment that follows when things don’t work out for the 2nd, 5th or the 10th time.
Is there a solution to this relationship dilemma? Maybe; maybe not. But one can begin by setting the right intentions towards life and relationships. Personally, I’m done; so you try it, and let me know how it works out for you.