Often we see in movies and TV shows, a couple living out the perfect life- a childhood romance, getting married, having kids, and spending their last moments together. And it fills you with the hope that love will last forever for you too.
Does it only happen in the movies or is it really that easy to find someone who will be forever in love with you? Let’s view the reality of a lasting love somewhat pragmatically.
Does Love Last Forever?
Romantic love is notoriously precarious – obsessive, erratic, consuming, fleeting, exhilarating, depressing. In most cases, it is not the kind of love that lasts forever. Once requited, it can slip easily into boredom.
It craves security and possession of the beloved, yet when this very craving finds fulfilment, the situation turns stifling! There are little things we do everyday, without even realizing, that kill romance in a relationship.
In all other relationships (where romantic love is not at play) emotions and intensity are allowed to wax and wane, and though never comfortable or pleasant for the one at the receiving end, are accepted without much fuss and chaos.
But in romantic love these phases are taken as aberrations. The other is crucified! A friend Pallavi Guptaa wrote, “Why does (love) have to be irrational and like a drug induced high…. all grand and emphasised through every action and thought… why can’t it be allowed to be a little passive… allowed to wane a bit at times…why can’t you just like someone you love sometimes without wanting to jump them and get into their heads…. without expecting them to fire you up every time without fail?”
Have you thought about this? Romance will fade because both time and success are its enemies.
The constant selling of romantic love!
Attraction between couples typically wanes after two years, yet television, movies and magazines actively encourage the notion that fading romance and boredom is a sign of a failed relationship.
Mass media and social media brainwashes us with unrealistic portrayals of romantic love, contributing to the construction of impossible expectations. They make us believe that love will last forever if we follow their ‘tips’ and unreliable horoscope ‘predictions.’
The glorification of romance as never-ending, glamorous and fulfilling is repeatedly reinforced via innumerable mediums. A lot of industries and businesses depend on it: the fashion industry, health and wellness, television shows, music, literature, and, of course, Bollywood!
A ubiquitous feature of Bollywood cinema is happy endings: concluding a film with the union of a romantic couple. Besides, they oversimplify the process of falling in love and revalidate its eternal ideal, forcing us to think that it could and should be achieved.
Deepak Kashyap, counseling psychologist and a certified life-skills trainer with a private practice in Mumbai said to me during an interview, “What ruins romance is when you try to convert it into a three-hour Bollywood movie. Any book, any movie, any webcast is time-bound, and real life is long and boring.
When you pack a life of three decades into a three-hour movie, you are expecting something different. And when your expectations are not fulfilled, you either attack yourself, others, or life.”
Think about it,even the movie Titanic was about love – the ship sank later, the initial focus was love.
Social appearances are often deceptive
Social media – Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram, et al. – with their ubiquitous posts and exchanges have massively propagated the myth of romantic love. What does not get seen are the affairs, the ugly fights, the dinners without having exchanged any words, and other deeper and everyday issues.
I have always felt that what we see on social media is mostly half-truths. You see couples online and you totally ‘ship’ them, but when you meet them in real life, you really begin to question, “can love last forever?”
Dr. Rajan Bhonsle, sexologist and counselor, says, “So-called happy marriages are not really that happy. They look good on FB. They appear happy at parties and you think they are happy.”
“I live in an elite area, Cuffe Parade in Mumbai. Most of the couples in my area have come to me, socially, as neighbors or with their issues. On the outside, they appear great but without a single exception, all of them have serious issues.
“Well, we hide it because everyone needn’t know. Just like when you have an illness you do not go about telling it to others but consult a doctor. So they come to me. For a long time, I would think, ‘They seemed so good together’.
“I see a totally different side. But to others, they still seem perfect. I always tell my clients, don’t be fooled by others’ projections of their perfect married life. Everyone has issues, they are just good at hiding them!”
Real relationships have ebb and flow
Another therapist, Salony Priya, based in Calcutta, specialising in marital therapy, said, “I can say with some experience that the ‘happy-in-front-of-others’ couples form the majority in our society. On the face you will not suspect a thing.
They go to clubs, parties, lunches and dinners, host beautiful evenings, and have impeccable manners with the guests and each other. You would say, “what a nice happy couple’. But in reality, their husband-and-wife relationship has been over for years. Many even sleep in separate bedrooms.”
There is real mettle to the relationship that has survived decades. It is in small and big compromises that the couple makes day in and day out. In the letting go and holding on. It is in standing strong when the other is enfeebled – and often switching places.
And certainly there is no cause for public display of marital issues! It is our own foolishness that we get swayed by the single-sided images people generally project. So if you ever wonder does love last forever, just remember that life is not a fairy-tale. Love is real, but how long really is forever?
As the wise George Bernard Shaw said, there are two tragedies in life. One is to lose your heart’s desire, the other is to gain it.
Movies and books make you believe that intense love can last forever, but it is very rare for you to find your happily ever after. In most relationships, the passionate, romantic love subsides after the honeymoon phase.
Yes and no. Depends how much time and effort you are putting into the relationship, and how strong your compatibility really is.