Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Woe is Love

Love is doomed. There's no hope for it. For all that we may like it in movies, books and all those sappy Hallmark cards, love is done for, stick a fork in it. Don't believe me? Facebook and a recent study on the three year glitch to replace the 7 year itch should be more than enough incentive to make you want to stay single forever- and leave romance to Hollywood and the classics.

A recent statistic in the United States has indicated that 1 in 5 of every divorce has quoted Facebook. It appears that divorce lawyers see this all too familiar story in many of their cases: bored spouse at home is browsing the net, checks their Facebook and decides to look up old flame or high school crush; contact is made and an initial friendly internet relationship develops that actually results in real feelings and then the decision is made to leave their marriage, either with the other person or with the hope of other people in the future. Divorce.

While proudly asserts in its advertisements that the world of dating has changed and that now 1 out of every 5 relationships starts on the internet, well, it doesn't take a social statistician to figure out what's going on here.

The 3 year glitch phenomenon is even more discouraging. Supporting the theory of a French novelist who once wrote a book entitled "Love Lasts for 3 years", a recent study has shown that the 7 year itch has now been replaced by the 3 year glitch, which means that love is losing its lustre faster than before. The former itch refers to that period where couples start to take each other for granted and where teh romance slowly slips from the relationship to be replaced by monotony, minor gripes and a decreased desire to 'do it'.

The change in terminology is also troubling- the itch described as a feeling of mild annoyance and quiet reflection has now been replaced by the idea of the glitch, which is a term for an actual malfunction, implying that something needs to be repaired and worse, that it may not be fixable. The Seven Year Itch made famous by Marilyn Monroe and her white dress over the subway vent refers to an actual legitimate phenomenon that calls into question the state of marriage. It's the point where monogamy looks less and less appealing as an option and is often accompanied by feelings of regret and wistfulness. Unlike the glitch, however, it doesn't assume that something is fundamentally wrong, like when your computer experiences technical difficulties that make you question why computers were ever invented in the first place.

Restlessness is normal in long-term relationships, but the fact that the grace period where love can still reign supreme appears to be getting progressively shorter, you have to worry about the state of love. Modern day pressures are not going to make any of this any easier either. Financial worries, which is top of the list of reasons why couples split up, along with couples working even harder to make ends meet and putting in more time at the office and apart, along with the many opportunities for infidelity teeming from the internet, means that love has a lot going against it.

Add to that the modern day obsession with the self and having everything the way that we want it, not to mention our constant need for instant gratification and it's pretty obvious that we're all living busier, faster lives that are crowded with virtuality and individual space, but very little intimacy. It's no wonder that our desire for real relationships has driven us to use Facebook and other forms of social media as a conduit to the real contact that we actually crave deep down, but are unwilling to work for.

Because real relationships take work, communication, consideration, compromise and yes, the messy mundane details of life like unclosed sock drawers and toe nail clippings on the bathroom floor. But they also come with the things that add actual meaning to our lives, such as intimacy, security, support through life's ups and downs and the feeling that we actually matter to someone. It doesn't mean much to feel that way for only 3 years at a time, especially since they can take a lifetime to find and nurture.

Love is doomed. And if we don't get over little details and over ourselves, so are we.

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