Her: “I love you”
Me: “How much?”
That’s the tail end of a conversation that a had with someone a long time ago. I didn’t understand it at the time but she was 100% right/truthful/correct in her answer to me. At the time I was a bit disappointed with her answer. I wanted some big grandiose flood of romantic response but got a small spoonful of blah. Now that I watch her answer again its got me thinking about where we are taught about love and get our expectations of it. (Disney love anyway) Love and loving is like air and breathing. It’s all natural and like you use your breath to talk, you use your love to love. And whether they liked it or not, somebody taught you how to love. Usually you learn it from mom. (not to leave the dads out because I’m one of them but I also know that the bond between mother and child is something we as fathers can only hope to even get close to. sad but its just the way it is) When you get that motherly love, you feel and learn how to love on a very basic subconscious level. Its more of a feeling than anything else. Now I’m probably not the best person to be talking about this because of the way my mom showed me how to love (see Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde) but I like to think that because of my adventures in relearning what love is and how to give it, I’ve got my doctorate in it.
Okay, first thing’s first (what does that even mean? of course the first thing is first, it damn sure ain’t second) lets explore where we consciously learn about love. We all start off surrounded by it and have endless amounts of it to give. As babies love is shown without question, reason, or limit. We feel the love and in turn are inadvertently taught how to express love on a very basic level by the actions we observe. The light bulb flashes on and we get it love = good (or crack). As we get a little older and less smothered by love, we learn different ways that it can be expressed. Thanks to Disney/Pixar, Dreamworks, and any other of the companies that churn out kid movies, we start to learn that love should be expressed in certain ways for it to be socially accepted. (the corruption begins) For example, if a guy loves a girl then he buys her flowers, chocolate or jewelry. Any child watching this movie has just learned that the expression of love can take the form of material items. Instead of a rub, kiss on the forehead, or a simple “I love you”, it can be expressed with stuff. Nothing wrong with that, everybody loves to get gifts. But what happens is that its continually expressed that way in future movies. Love can be bought. Both the little girl and the little boy have just learned a lesson. Now I don’t blame those companies for popping out movies that reinforce stereotypes and gender roles because the same this is being spoon-fed to adults. You ever seen a guy in the movies show a girl he loves her by giving her a present? Or maybe he did something that the girl didn’t like and he buys her some roses or something to say that he is sorry. We already have enough with TV shows and movies making women seem like cute faces and pretty things are their only interests. I think its time to keep it real.
We have a lot of misconceptions about love and its our high expectations of love that fall short that are the cause of a lot of pain when real love and fake love meet. Those expectations instill a love entitlement mentality. We have seen too many movies where the nerd or social outcast is in love with the head cheerleader or equivalent and we are rooting for him because we think that she should love him. WHY? What if she is happy with the jock, the drummer, or somebody on her cheer leading team? Just because he is head over heels in love with her doesn’t mean that those feelings ought to be returned. Basically, just because you can love doesn’t mean that somebody has to love you back. Cruel I know but true. People who believe that love is deserved have what I call “Happily Ever After” syndrome or HEA (catchy eh?). HEA is where we want something to happen so bad that it defies reality because it sounds and looks good. Most people who suffer from HEA want the guy to get the girl. Why can’t the girl get the girl or the guy get the guy or just be alone? In our society of “shoulds”, it doesn’t sound right but in the real world, sometimes it works out better that way.
I want to see a movie or kids movie that actually depicts true love. Not that oooey gooey stuff we see with the soft music. Real love, the kind that doesn’t care what’s in your bank account, how you look, or what sex you are. Love that isn’t given just because its been given to. Love that isn’t returned even though the other person was “perfect”. Authentic love that’s given to yourself first before anyone else. Selfish love that is okay no matter what and doesn’t sob in a corner just because it wasn’t loved back the way it wanted. Real love! Real love is rare, but when you find it, its stronger, less comfortable, and most importantly enough.
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