‘The Evolution of the Boy We Both Loved’

So I’ve been thinking about love in the 21st century. Yes I know. Not usually my brand (as the cool kids possibly still say) but I’ve been thinking about it nonetheless and two things occur to me, one pessimistic, one optimistic.On the pessimistic side, I feel like we are living in a culture where we are told that romantic love is the greatest thing in the world and yet there is still a lot of gatekeeping around romantic love. Because so many of the images of love we see are still insta- good looking couples in stable domestic settings, on good wages, very popular and ‘living their best life’. People who are likeable and relatable and all that. So we live in a culture where we are told we have to have romantic love to be worthwhile but there are all manners of hoops we have to jump through to be worthy of it and even then, it has to look right to be valued. Love wins if you accept the terms and conditions. No wonder people get angry. No wonder people sometimes mistake vanity for love.But…and oh this is a wonderful but…people and the world are so much stranger than that. I think that romantic love often doesn’t look like romantic love, that people often fall for others who are nothing like the ones social media tells them to and that emotional and/or physical desire is a gloriously strange and unpredictable thing that makes its own rules, especially if you aren’t fixating on how it will look in a selfie (which is a fixation which I suspect most people lose interest in pretty quickly)Like I say, none of this is my brand and I’m just an observer on his second cup of coffee. I could be hopelessly wrong. But this is what I think. Love does sometimes win but not always in the ways you might expect.

Damian Whittle

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