Love in the age of consumerism
Recently a friend and I were taking about relationships, which we do often as a) she has a boyfriend of two years and is a great source of lovey-dovey inspiration and b) yours truly has never had a boyfriend of longer than three months and has merely stepped foot in the realm of all things lovey-dovey. Our previous experiences as well as our respective relationship status at present allow for some truly interesting conversations. We were discussing the fact that my parents have been married for thirty years (woo, go parents!) and how almost fantastical the idea of spending that much time with the same person seems. Hell, said my friend, even two years seems like a long time and it's no walk in the park, that's for sure. I don't know about you, but the concept of thirty years sends a shiver down my spine. That's more than the entirety of my life. My parents were loved up before I was even born, loved up when I was conceived (ew), loved up when I had to wear a nappy because I constantly peed my pants, loved up when the only word I could utter was 'birdie' and are still loved up whilst I sit here and leaf through the dictionary for fun (hey, I like words, what can I say?) Okay, they obviously haven't been loved up every second of every day of every year that they haven been by each other's side, but there has been enough commitment, determination, fire...enough love to keep them going and that is an inspirational / mildly terrifying thought. Because in this day and age, is commitment even a thing? My friend and I discussed this further. We both agreed that so much of the time, the seemingly perfect person ruins any chance of a relationship by scaring themselves. Scaring themselves? Over what? Over commitment, my friend, that's what. Want to find the scariest Halloween costume possible this year? Dress up as commitment - I guarantee you many people will run a mile.
Then there are the people who refuse to put labels on anything. Which is, you know, perfectly fine, except that for some people the concept of labels eliminates the possibility of alternative options, and options = comfort. 'I'm just keeping my options open.' Options in this sense might as well be 'more fruitful opportunities'. We all want better opportunities, there's no doubt about that, but just how far will we go to reach the next best thing? Surely there's always going to be a next best thing...right? We then discussed the phenomenon of Tinder and social media in general. Social media has been a massive game changer when it comes to...well, life, but particularly relationships. You can open up an app and filter your way through masses of potential baes. There are pictures, brief descriptions and and then you swipe left or right depending on your interest. This whole process feels uncanny and strangely similar to what we spend so much of our life doing: SHOPPING.
We are living in an age of consumerism and even if you're reading this from a place that rejects all notions of capitalism, we can all agree that money makes the world go round. It's harrowing but true. On a smaller scale, we are going about our lives consuming, experimenting, tasting and purchasing. It's Commodity Central. A new iPhone comes out every year. People go crazy and the older models fall in price. New trends appear in shop windows. Sales, bargains, discounts are unavoidable. New seasons keep being released on TV, on Netflix. Ridiculous videos swamp Facebook, two minutes in length. Books are pushed aside for small paragraphs, Tweets. We want more and we want it NOW. My friend and I sat in silence after realising that relationships were not exempt from this consumerist ideology, that in this day and age they have almost been reduced to products themselves. This is all quite depressing, but at this point I'd just like to enlighten you with the following quote I came across on Instagram: Every relationship will get "boring" after you've been together for years. Love isn't a feeling, it's a commitment; to love every day, physically and emotionally. It's difficult, it's not always laughs, smiles and fun. People tend to quit when it stops being fun, and they go look for someone else. 'Oh, the spark is gone.' No, that's not how it works. You want somebody to never give up on you, and love you unconditionally? Do the same. Be the change. This isn't Hollywood, this isn't the movies. That shit isn't real. Love somebody when you don't want to. When they are being a fucking asshole. When they're being hard to love. That's the realist shit there is. I love this quote and I'm not lying when I say I think about it almost everyday. Love is the broadest of subjects and I could spend years writing about it without coming to any sort of conclusion but if there's one thing I know it's that the person you choose to be with shouldn't be a commodity. They shouldn't be an option. It's amazing that for some of us - the lucky ones - we are blessed with a multitude of opportunities and can choose how we live our lives, how we spend our time, what we invest our energy in. Not everyone is as lucky and some people have to settle for less. We are told to never settle for less but if we are all confused about what is best, how will we ever stop searching for something more fruitful? The truth is, we are never going to meet every single person on this earth and there may very well be someone out there who is perfectly suited to us but then again, how do we even define what a perfect match is? If we keep searching for the next best thing, we will never be satisfied and this of course doesn't just apply to relationships. I know being content isn't an easy thing to do, especially when we are surrounded by a restlessness, an uncertainty, a desire for more. Businessess and companies thrive off consumers' insecurities. It's difficult for me to analyse the workings of a solid relationship having never been in one, but I know myself and I know I have high standards. I say to myself, if I'm going to be picky about the shoes I buy then I'm definitely going to be picky about the person I spend the rest of my life with! Because I think, deep down, I would ideally like to be with the same person for the rest of my life. Perhaps that has been ingrained in me - and of course I have seen my parents stick together and maintain a healthy relationship - but it's also because I very much agree with the above quote. If love isn't an option or a commodity, then we shouldn't just be able throw it away at the drop of a hat. You can do that with products but not with someone's feelings. It's a commitment, and commitment isn't such a bad thing. If anything, loyalty makes you a much more open, rounded and loving person. Good quality shoes, good quality relationships...we should strive to have these things and to understand that a world full of possibilities is, weirdly, also a world full of limitations, the limits being that we can never truly acquire, see or experience every single thing. So with that in mind, let's focus on nurturing the good things we do have in our lives, treasuring what has brought us up to this point, being thankful for what has come before us. You can't put a price tag on the stuff that matters.