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⤹ love in the modern age

Hello hello! This is Zabeth! bringing you another blog about love in the modern age, how somehow our conception of love and how we perceive and receive it, and some other thoughts about it To preface, this is just a personal blog, nothing professional and all stated is going to be my beliefs and my opinion solely. I don't intend to write this with any ill intent towards anyone and as always, Enjoy Reading!~

Love In The Modern Age 

Is love an art? Because if it is then it requires knowledge and effort or is it a pleasant sensation? One that you only get to experience as a matter of chance and is considered lucky if someone "falls" into it. This post will be focusing on the former premise that people undoubtedly, at least the majority of people today believe in the latter. And it is not because people think that love is not important, it is instead because they are starved for it. We watch endless of films, shows, and stories about happy and unhappy love stories. We listen to hundreds of corny love songs and yet hardly anyone thinks there's anything to be learned about love.

I see hundreds of posts every day on romantic couples, I mean that. Scrolling through the feed endlessly will definitely grant you at least a few posts on love, couples, and romance. I find myself sort of hating it.

It's not that I hate PDA or that I'm just a spiteful person who refuses to let anyone express their love to others, it's just that the most common posts about love tend to bug me. It might be just the algorithm playing tricks on me but I see posts about people who advocate for never having to settle, those groups of people that say "If he wanted to he would", the constant buzz about the latest red flag, the most disgusting ick a person can have, and certain "rules" or "standards" you should have on love that can make a person in a healthy relationship suddenly question their entire relationship based off of what a stranger on the internet posts.

But before I dwell more specifically on the fundamental concepts of love and specific content I see online, I want to ask a question first.

Is Love Passive Or Active?

Or if I were to be specific, first, Is love a state that exists independently and is waiting for us to fall into, or does it require our participation and effort to bring it about? Second, is our conception of love grounded in anything truly real or are we comparing our relationships to hyperreal love?

Most people view love from a passive lens, that is it somehow out there waiting for you to stumble upon it. That is why we hear phrases such as "Love is waiting out there for you" "True love comes to those who wait" or "love will find you at the right time, do not chase it." Because of these, people tend to make themselves more lovable instead of loving.

To participate in the dating world is to place yourself in what people call "the personality market" where you tend to make yourself as lovable as possible (which is dependent on the time period and culture) but for a long time, the dream man was ambitious and a protector but now there is a ton of demand for men who are willing to be sensitive and who are into hobbies like crocheting. A certain author, one whose name I have unfortunately forgotten, likens this to modern capitalism where I buy your product and you get my money.

A lot of people also try to make themselves lovable for a certain type of person. An example of this is: When Person A wants a nerd bf and Person B wants a goth tiddy gf, they're most likely to dress differently and become well versed in different talking points but by then they have already chosen which market they're putting themselves out onto, already deciding what kind of love should come their way.

So, truly, this is simply to satisfy one's desire to not be lonely. At this point, it's becoming a sort of self-interested search for a partner, and we can compare it to a form of bargaining like in a graph for example where when you find that partner, you have found the optimal sweet spot between social value and your personal desire. This sort of exchange sadly doesn't seem to treat people as people at all but instead turns people into commodities on a personality market where everyone is constantly trying to increase their market value in order to be able to adhere to what others want.

Although I see a lot of people (mostly straight women) that are happy for the change in men's interests and likes, dropping the alpha gym bro aesthetic and all the comments being "Men are finally listening to what we want!" and don't get me wrong, I am dating the latter type of men, but should we really be happy for such a change?

Taking in what I said earlier, men are simply just adhering to the changing social values in order to be more desirable on this so called "personality market" but is a man who is more traditionally masculine worse than a man who is so called "written by a woman"?

Instead of congratulating others for becoming a better commodity, a better item on the market for us to be able to soothe our awareness of our complete loneliness, why don't we focus on the act of loving itself? This is where my point comes in of comparing passive love to active conceptions of love. Someone who thinks of love passively will ask themselves "How do I become loved?" compared to someone who thinks of love actively will ask themselves "How do I love?" 

When relationships end, people tend to go straight ahead to working out, getting their hair done, buying new clothes, improving their lovability in general as showed by "post breakup glowup" videos on YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, etc. Even though people claim it to be self love, is changing so much of your physical appearance really just for your confidence and yourself or is it only because you now feel more desirable to others?

Rarely does this ever help us improve as a lover and maybe help us bring that kind of love into our lives. We always seem to take that concept of love itself for granted cause most people think that love is just from intuition alone, it does not need to be learned at all, and that everyone just naturally knows what it is but this stems from a problem of treating love as a noun, an object, and something that just happens to us. 

We need to be able to shift our perspective and learn to understand love as an activity rather than just a feeling.

Love Is An Art

I see love as it being like art. And just like with any art, may it be music, painting, dancing, and singing, it requires practice. Practice, dedication, and faith. You can't attain a certain skill level of art by just going off of what your gut tells you or what your intuition tells you, you cannot be good at love in that sense if you only decide to practice when you feel like it or when it is convenient for you.

It requires faith, if you run into a difficult skill as you practice your art, you can't just give up because it's hard. You have to have faith in eventually being able to succeed and dedicate effort into that art until you are able to reach that success. It is the same with love!

But because of the internet, I see people begin to doubt their entire relationship because they saw this one post on TikTok. Sure, if there have been signs of cheating, lying, and abuse then those are clear signs to leave but we should be wiring our brains to be able to think of love actively instead of passively. Being able to make these distinctions can help us separate love from abuse and dishonesty as most have the line blurred between love and abuse itself.

I think that when you work on a piece of art, being able to create a beautiful result is what leaves the artist with a sense of fulfillment, right? Like being able to finish a beautiful painting, an artist gives meaning to their life through this because this painting as a product of the artist's efforts is able to reflect their abilities back onto themselves. It is the realization that they are the reason that such a canvas is so beautiful. Taking this knowledge in, we can deduce that to love is to nurture the flourishing of someone else and you are able to recognize your own worth through their flourishing. Treating love as an active art rather than an object, we come back to the simple realization that love is about giving and not just receiving.

Though a lot of people interpret giving as an act of sacrifice, that's why it's so honorable to do it in a relationship but giving does not have to require sacrificing anything. When done for just the sake of giving and not for another goal, giving becomes the best way to combat one's existential loneliness. When you give, you experience your own strength, energy, and aliveness. We can see that this is true when giving food or money to someone like your children perhaps. 

But this is especially true in giving love because when you give out love, you give all the things that make up the person that you are. Your interests, passions, your emotions, your self to that person. It is nice to receive things but it is also important to have someone that gives things as a symbol of love. Turning it into an action and giving back because it is not just about material objects, it's about giving you.

Proper Love V.S. Materialistic Love

In today's age, we have learned and seemingly have permanently implemented a style of loving dedicated to associating the words "love" with the word "give". Our love, or the love we experience in today's age, is one that has been built on making ourselves "lovable" or more appealing to others. To become someone's perfect partner and to attract your own perfect partner. Love has become an exchange. A passive view that paints love as an independent being that you simply stumble upon at the right time, changing yourself in order for that time to arrive faster, is what most people do in seeking their ideal type of love.

But here, you might be thinking. "As romantic as giving for the sake of giving sounds, without care for material gifts, we all want to feel loved. Doing the loving is so much effort and I'm too insecure to not want to be loved. And you can't just erase the value that material gifts have in our capitalist culture." 

And to that I say, you are right.

Which is why proper love is so counter culture because it's near impossible to oppose how our current culture acts in the rights of love. Like, how are we supposed to focus on giving when I am surrounded by those who show off what they have received? Our culture is so based on consumerism. On who has what, and how ideal they have it in life so obviously, even I will begin to obsess over my own social value when that's how I am going to be constantly judges.

How am I going to be able to dedicate that much time to practicing love as an art when society is telling me there are more important things to do? like having a good career?

I need to spend time on school, work, family, friends, and so I only have such love on a select number of people and for all these reasons is why I say that love, in our modern age, in how we view it and act in it, is messed up.

Hyperreal Love

Has anyone heard of this term? Hyperreal. It's an exaggerated form of the reality that you and I may know. We interact with it more often than we do our actual reality. I'll use the film "Apocalypse Now" as an example. The film itself, with it's acting, special effects, editing, and the sets is all made to make it seem as if when we are watching the film, it feels as real as possible. In a way, it becomes more real than the real Vietnam war itself. Most of our understanding of the real Vietnam war stems from very brief video clips online, news articles that water down the stories of the soldiers who fought and the innocents who suffered, maybe a speech from a politician or two. But we have no true understanding or experience that comes from this tragic event. But even with those, it's all so watered down to only the major highlights of what did happen in this war. The thousands of stories go unheard because of this but the film ends up making this feel more real than the actual war.

By that, I mean that when people think of the Vietnam war, they picture scenes from the movies about it. An imitation of reality, a mimic of what happened, has ended up becoming more real in our minds. Thus the term, hyperreal. Where we start to interact with a copy of something real, so much so that we've believed that to be the real truth.

And because we interact with the hyperreal versions of things, people, concepts so much, our forms of media have adapted to imitating hyperreality rather than reality in and of itself. It forms a loop where copies become copies become copies become copies until our lives end up looking at copies of copes of copies. An example I can give of this is TV Shows.

TV Shows originally drew inspiration from real people in real lives but over time as new TV Shows began to circulate the media, they followed the trend of the past TV Shows. Drawing inspiration from those, creating shows that are just detached from the reality we live in. We begin to frame what happens to us in relation to these shows, creating character tropes that we then form our real relationships around.

I'm guilty of this. Multiple times I've compared me and my partner to Amy and Jake from Brooklyn-99. We see these people build such strong relationships on screen, their moments of love, and then build expectations of having the same magical feeling in real life. But what does this mean? It means that the imaginary dictates reality. Where expectations and tropes that we form for these characters, these fictional people, constrain us into thinking that love needs to be a certain way like if we start off as a hyper gf and calm bf trope, we have to maintain it throughout our entire relationship.

The thing is though, these expectations and tropes are not based off of reality.

How did everything I just talked about apply to things we see people say online? Let's start with my personal favorite (for how much I loathe it), the "if he wanted to, he would" trope.

If He Wanted To, He Would

I have a dislike with this phrase. First, it builds up the expectation that our partners (specifically, men) should automatically know what to do and what we want without us having to express it. Second, it's contradictory. Girls say "if he wanted to, he would" so they just refuse to tell their man what they want because "he should just do it if he wanted to" but if this mindset was the way that the men thought about women, where if he wanted her to make the first move but "if she wanted to, she would" then no one would take initiative for anything.

Now, it's also because some people want to do things but are not so sure if they should be scared, anxious, shy, or end up trusting their own doubts rather than just considering the possibility that maybe the person you like values what your input might be! Communication is so important in relationships, truly it is the foundation for it. 

If you truly loved someone, you wouldn't base their worth on whether they give you exactly what you want. You would care about how much you're giving them and whether the both of you are having a reciprocal relationship. Valentines day is just a month away and since then, I've seen quite a few videos discussing on how women in 
(heterosexual) relationships should wait to see if their man does something romantic for them without saying anything or if you even say it, it should only be mentioned once. If your man forgets the thing you had said once, it's a sign to end the relationship.

One that I saw mentioned that if a girl just waits till the end of the day on Valentine's day feeling unloved and unappreciated and begins to think to herself that "it's just one day, it's no big deal. It's one commercialized holiday it's no biggie." Then that's her sign to leave.

The thing is, it's implying that if the person you love shows you that they love you for every single day since you've been together, and just misses that one day. That one big commercialized mark of Valentines day to show you that they love you, it's go time.

There is so much things and concerns about what can a man do for me, can he meet my standards, that this one day can determine the trajectory of the rest of your relationship? I know it's different for everything, maybe your partner has amazing memory and grew up in a very loving and caring environment but for me and my partner we both have a lot going on in our lives. I'm a student leader and athlete and he's already getting apps from colleges as a sophomore, a student achiever. So for us, it's unreasonable to just expect us to remember something that someone said once. Just because I forget doesn't mean that he's not important to me.

Is it really fair to judge love based on what a person gives you? Even as I'm typing this out, I can understand how hard it can be to not let such small things bother you. We are surrounded by people who post picture perfect snippets of their romantic relationships and it constantly makes us fixate on how good the love we receive is. We are convinced to never settle, that there is some person out there who will give us something better or something as perfect as the love we see in films.

Like even I fall victim to this, but that's why we should also have a good level of self love to be able to squash the paranoid worries in your head and be able to judge your relationship with a clear head. Remember that the things you see in movies, the love on Netflix shows we watch, looks more like the copies that came before it rather than the love we see in our lives. It's more real than reality but there's no way to attain that level of perfect love because that love, as magical as it is, is just like magic. Unrealistic.

Focus on the now, you and your partner. Letting such views affect your relationship, not a go on  my watch. I hope that one day our society learns to dedicate more time to thinking about others, how to build self love, and how to avoid letting hyperreal displays of love mislead or misguide us.

UPDATE I: I'm stopping this here because I think this is getting quite a bit long. A quick reminder that I don't plan any of these blogs out, I write these things out on the spot so my apologies if it's messy in some areas. There will be a continuation to this though (I know, I hate part two's as well) but I simply cannot cover everything I want to say in just a singular blog that's going to end up as long as a thesis paper. ;;. So I want to thank you for reading down this far and I hope you have a wonderful day!

UPDATE II: I edited this blog on 1/17/2024 and honestly it's been a blast editing this! I love editing and I know my points may not be as clear as others but I'm simply satisfied to have this blog page done and edited with a final word count of: 4015 words! Thank you so much for reading!

With matsalab,


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⊹ ࣪ ˖ elizabeth

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wc: 1799 words!! <33

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thank you sm!!! I'm glad you enjoyed the blog!!<33

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