It’s a truth universally acknowledged we know fuck all about love.
Since the beginning of human pre-history, we’ve been falling in and out of love. But what does it all mean? How do you know if you love someone versus lust? Why is love always binary and never seen as the many variations in between?
Scientists tell us its chemical. Magazines, experts, and anyone with an opinion tell us what love is and isn’t, and that it is beyond chemical since you can generate the same feelings of love by eating chocolate or drinking red wine.
After many millennia, how can we still not know what love is?
And no, I don’t mean the Foreigner song. You’re welcome.
I’ll be blunt: I haven’t a fucking clue. Neither do you. Or you. Oh, you may think you know, you may be able to discern between a love for a lover, a love for your parent, a love for a friend. But the shades of types of love are often crossed and sometimes we can’t tell the difference. A lover becomes a friend, a friend a lover, we stop loving a parent. Sometimes it’s on a turn of a dime and others, it is over days, weeks, years.
I was thinking of all of this while watching 50 Shades of Grey this afternoon. I came across a few ideas of which I will share with you, of course.
I get why women are falling for this movie. But we’re assuming why they are falling for this movie for all the wrong reasons. 50 Shades is not about BDSM, or control, or even about Jamie Dornan’s magnificent thighs (I am a thigh girl. Rugby, holla!). Or obsession or even possession. Or hell, even about sex (really).
The movie is desperate to tell us it is about these things, but at its core, it’s more about the anti-hero (Christian Grey) and the, in my humble opinion, all consuming kind of love that makes pink parts swell and souls bleed.
Romeo and Juliet. Tristan and Isolde. Lizzie and Darcy. Jane and Rochester. Elizabeth and Richard. These are couples, fictional and not, whom throughout history, have given us an inkling of what that kind of love means. To be so passionately in love that we cannot breathe, we cannot eat, we cannot function without having our lover close at hand. It becomes all consuming, this kind of love, and most of us are desperate to want it.
But is it rational? Or even reasonable to expect that this kind of love can last? Look at my first two examples of famous couples, one or both died for this kind of love. Elizabeth Taylor married Richard at least twice and stayed with him years before and after. Lizzie and Darcy, Jane and Rochester had their quarrels and denial. But in the end, all of them were consumed with their lover.
But what does it mean to have this kind of love? To be unquestionably adored, admired, and desired. Tension so thick that it be cut with a Victorinox knife. That when you’re near them, you almost cannot breathe for fear of losing one moment of their breath. To sink between their touch, having your skin melt under their hands. That one moment away from them breaks your soul.
The anti-hero, or anti-heroine, provides another look into this kind of love. The one where you find someone more damaged than you, who you, and only you, can see beyond their walls and into their deepest, darkest parts of themselves and you feel you can save them.
Because in the end, when all is said and done, we just want to save someone to save ourselves.