Monday, January 11, 2010

Love Question Mark

Please stop asking about my love life

I recently watched the movie Paper Heart, a mockumentary about love, centered around a girl who's not sure if she believes in love and is even capable of falling in love. (Rent it immediately. It's adorable.) And it got me thinking about the idea of love in general.

Interesting fact I'd never really thought about before: since love is a chemical reaction that occurs in your brain, it is technically possible for someone to be lacking the chemicals necessary for this process. Therefore, it is entirely likely that a person could be physically incapable of love.

(Thus, to all those guys who have been using that as an excuse to get out of a relationship, now at least you have some scientific research to back that shit up!)

For most of my adult life, I have been opposed to the idea of people getting married too young (by young I mean before or during your early twenties) for all the logical reasons: high divorce rate, being too young to know what you want in life, lack of real-life experience, the necessity to date around to know what qualities you need in a spouse, etc, etc.

I am, however, now questioning my previous judgements on the matter.

My cousin, who just turned 21, looks like he is on the verge of proposing to his girlfriend of over three years even though they're only seniors in college, and a bunch of voices (including his parents') have chimed in that they're too young to get married. Although I understand their reservations and the rational part of me agrees that they should wait a few years before they get hitched, I am actually, for the most part, very supportive of the idea.

This particular cousin used to be somewhat of a nightmare, the black sheep of the family (which worked out well for me, because my exploits paled in comparison), the one who got arrested in the middle of the night during high school and had to wake his parents up to bail him out of jail. He was also, and I say this with love, somewhat of a jerkface, which is why we weren't particularly close growing up.

Since he started dating his girlfriend, though, he's a completely different person. He's nice, thoughtful, a hard worker, and actually fun to be around. And seeing him around her was bizarre experience at first. He's attentive and protective, constantly checking to make sure that she's ok. I'd never seen him like that before. If this is the person that he is when he's with her, I see nothing wrong with committing to be like that for the rest of his life.

After all, if you love someone and you're 100% sure that they're the right one for you, there's no real reason to wait to get married. A few of my friends have parents that were high school sweethearts and are still happily married today, thirty years later.

There's something to be said for young love. One of the couples that was interviewed in Paper Heart met when they were only 14 and got engaged their junior year of high school. They said of their early marriage:

"I think the young love can sometimes be the most important. I know that many people now are waiting until later to get married, but I think you lose something. We could've chose not to marry before he went to college, but waiting five years would have lost much of the magnetism that we had for each other."

Although I definitely don't condone teenage marriage or the (kind of creepy) idea of getting married at 17, there is a spark of truth to what they said.

My girlfriend S and I went to college together and actually dated two roommates for the majority of our college years. One day, we were discussing our college sweethearts and what had happened to them in the past five years. Both of the exes have gotten fatter since they exited our lives (not being smug, just stating the facts!) and (more relevantly) got engaged this past year.

So even though both S and I know that we are far better off without them in our lives now, we both agreed that there is a part of us that still misses them. And it's not the physical guys that we miss (after all, they did get fat); it's the feeling.

The feeling of being twenty years old in college when your life revolves around learning and having fun, when your entire life is ahead of you, when there aren't any real world worries to weigh you down yet, when there's just the magic of being in love for the first time in your life and believing wholeheartedly that it will work out and you will be together forever and ever.

I honestly don't think things would've worked out between me and the college boyfriend; there were too many long-term obstacles that would've resulted in us hating each other eventually. But, and I can say with the certainty of someone who has been in love since, I will never again feel the way I felt about him. There was something pure and magical about that first love that I will never be able to recapture.

And perhaps, that's the main reason that I am optimistic things will work out for my cousin. Watching them from across the room one night, I couldn't take my eyes off them. And after seeing him reach over to take her hand, I figured out why they made me happy and sad inside all at the same time.

I realized that's what love looks like. There’s something about the way love looks, about the way that people who are in love just glow and pulsate with their own energy, and it hit me all of a sudden that I will never look that way again and it simply knocked the breath right out of me.

At the end of the day, there's something to said for marrying before cynicism and being jaded settle in and you wind up a cranky adult (like me). There's something to be said for marrying your first love and making it work by holding onto that feeling.

So maybe I'm not as cynical and jaded as I originally thought, because I really believe it'll work out for them.

No comments: