Woe Is Me! “I Feel Like the Only One Who Still Believes in Love. Am I Foolish?”
Woe Is Me! is a series in which The Swaddle team indulges your pity party with advice you’ll probably ignore.
“I’m worried that Gen Z sees love — be it romantic, platonic, monogamous, or polyamorous — as something unavailable, unreachable to them. Maybe, it’s because of the way popular media portrays love? Or, some other reason, I’m not sure. But I have seen that a lot of people my age, even me, somehow believe that love is something that will never occur in our lives. It’s way too common to meet a friend who believes they will never actually find the comfort and companionship of truly ‘loving’ someone. This always makes me sad.”
— All I need is love
QG: Everything is so bleak these days — news, media, people, values, essentially everything. It’s easy to not believe in love. Some would say it’s the more sensible thing to do. (Sensibility and love have always been mutually exclusive, haven’t they?) In times like these, with so many ways for one to be exposed to hurt, it only makes sense to not want to put yourself out there, to not really love anything for the simple reason that love, unfortunate as it is, brings with it hurt. It’s always the ones closest to you, who you can really open your heart to, and who can hurt you. So, again, it makes sense.
But in a world so bleak, what can we do but grasp at anything that ignites love? It is one of the rare things out there that brings with it lightness. My friend recently developed a crush on a guy, and whenever she speaks about him, she acts like a seventh grader. There’s a lightness to it, a strange happiness to it, that is hard to come by. I don’t really know much, but something tells me that’s not something to give up on. Not now, not ever. I mean, after all, all you need is love.
P.S. – Heath Ledger did not do all that for you to think believing in love makes you foolish (I mean, of course, it does, but what’s the problem with that?)
RN: I’m happy to inform you that you’re not alone in still believing in love — so many of us still do! And I’d wager that your friends who are right now super-cynical about it, secretly believe in it too. It might be a coping mechanism to openly express cynicism about love, in order not to get hurt later, or even to cope with past loves. But people are loving and losing all the time, and for better or for worse, it is a part of the human condition. Love can also be unrequited — so, maybe, the people around you are either in love with someone who doesn’t love them back, or they’re the ones that someone else loves. Either way, there’s a lot of love in the air at most times.
Unfortunately, there are also economic, political, social, and cultural upheavals that Gen Z is uniquely left to deal with while living their lives. That too, that could be contributing to the profound alienation and disenchantment. So while you and your friends may be dealing with all the crap the world has to offer, love may seem out of reach simply because happiness or hope feels out of reach sometimes. But this is far from true — and you and your friends will likely have a very different set of conversations about this the moment someone among you inevitably falls in love. All this is not even considering the fact that romantic love isn’t even the be-all and end-all of love! Do you love your friends, and do they love you? Do we, despite everything, live in small communities of warmth, hope, and solidarity to get us through this world? If the answers are yes, then you’re looking at a world that very much is still full of people believing in love — and being in love too.
DR: In a world ravaged by Covid19, fascism, and capitalism, your optimism is refreshing. I wouldn’t say it makes you foolish. Hope is what guides humanity forward, after all, right? But that doesn’t necessarily mean your friends are too foolish to cherish life and all the amazing things it offers either. Is it possible that your friends, perhaps, aren’t looking for the comfort and companionship that you are seeking through long-term relationships? Different people can want different things in life. Or, maybe, they simply follow MJ’s motto from Spiderman, and would rather not expect anything, than end up being disappointed. It’s also possible that they’ve witnessed so much negativity — or even trauma — that their brain can’t rationally conclude that love awaits everyone. At the same time, maybe, the negativity you have been forced to endure has led you to cling to the idea of a “happily ever after” as a means to distract yourself instead.
We’re all products of our circumstances. They may not be wrong; neither are you. They may not be the smartest, and you’re probably not foolish either — at least, not based simply on your belief in finding true love.
AS: I believe we are living in a time when the media is busy trying to create the perception of a loveless world. The corporations want to tell us to not make enough time for love, that it’s a foolish idea to engage in emotions over rational profits. Governments also want to undersell the idea of love, as it is much more beneficial for them to fuel hate and polarise populations. All of this has contributed to creating a loveless environment. However, I still feel that there are quite a few people and places that have not run out of love. We need to keep looking, and hopefully, we’ll find it, eventually.