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Love: Is it a losing game or a win-win situation?

Do you know how many songs have been written about love? No, nor do I. Chad Swiatowicz, has a fair idea though. Chad did a study for his master’s thesis, in sociology, at University of Florida, and it seems that Americans, like many of us, are in love with love.

The thesis, analysed the lyrics of two eras’ most popular songs, listed in online archives of the American music magazine Billboard, 2002-2005 and 1968-1971. What was found, was that 24 of the 40 songs in the modern era — 60 percent — and half the songs of the classic era, were devoted to the subject of love and relationships.

Some songs, were upbeat and celebratory of love. Others, fell into a more pessimistic category, featuring infidelity or the insecurities of being subservient to a lover’s every whim. Apparently, the subject of infidelity, came up far more frequently in the modern era, which may be an indicator of how we perceive love in this day and age?

Love, I guess, is as old as life. One blob of cyanobacteria looked across at another blob of cyanobacteria and ‘Boom!’ They did, what makes the world go round.

Okay, so maybe not bacteria, but certainly the first Homo Sapiens, 200,000 and 300,000 years ago, felt the pull of love, otherwise, none of us would be here.

Of course, as language wasn’t truly developed, until about 150,000 years later, communication boiled down to grunts and hand signals. Much the same sort of thing, you can witness, any Pre-Covid Saturday night, after the pubs shut.

Once, we were able to form words and construct sentences though, the first paeans to love, followed swiftly on. We can go back as far as c2000 BCE, to the oldest love poem ‘The Love Song for Shu-Sin,’ which celebrated beauty, and love of a joyous bride, to a king named Shu-Sin: “Bridegroom, dear to my heart, Goodly is your beauty, honeysweet, Lion, dear to my heart, Goodly is your beauty, honeysweet.”

You know, add a decent guitar riff, and that could be a big seller.

Love, has been at the very epicentre of life, right the way down, through the ages. In Medieval times, the idea of “Courtly Love” was popular. In the Renaissance, love had a more utilitarian feel, with marriage creating ties, between families and women, seen only, as the property of a man.

Shakespeare, of course, overdosed on love, writing 154 sonnets to that one emotion. Although, in saying that, I’ll say that love may feel like an emotion, but actually, like hunger, love is a drive. Think about it, haven’t you at one time or another said, “love is driving me crazy,” If you haven’t, then you’ve got one hell-of-a-bumpy ride, to look forward too.

Anyway, Shakespeare, along with many literary contemporaries, was driven to write sonnets that investigated love, loss, deception, time, youth and are certainly not just simple love poems.

As he pretty well hit the mark every time, Shakespeare wasn’t far wrong in calling love, complex. It’s fine of course, if the love you have, is a mutual love. That sort of love, has been frozen in time, again and again, over the years, in films where a couple, trip blithely, in slow motion, through buttercup-congested meadows, their eyes glued on each other, as they bathe in the glow of reciprocal, devotion. Fine, if you like that sort of thing, but love doesn’t always work out like that. Not, in real life.

Love can be a one-sided affair. Not all relationships start out one-sided, but many end that way.

When you’re in love, it’s normal to want to do everything in your power to make your significant other happy. But, as time goes on, you begin to realise you’re always the one to say, “I love you” first. So, what are the ways that you can tell if this love thing is not slanted in your favour?

Think, are you the one that initiates communication? You phone, you text, you set up the evening out. Do they do that? Does he or she, ever return the favour? You’re only too willing to do something for them, but when was the last time they did something for you? If they have the choice, do they choose to be with their friends instead of you? In the long run, you have to tot things up. Does he/she really care about you? If you come up with the answer, no, then the writing’s not just on the wall, but in 100 foot high flashing neon!

Pic by @loukhs

I know, I know, you say, but I love him/her. It’ll be a massive hurt for you to split up. Believe me, the hurt will be much bigger, if you stay shackled to someone, who only feels real love, when they pass the mirror.

Then again, there’s always, the other perspective. This time, you’re the one who’s the object of someone else’s, uncontrollable passion. First of all I’ll have to admit, some people get all the luck, but, passing over that, it’s still a situation you’re uncomfortable with. What do you do? How do you handle things? Do you continue to immerse yourself in the warm waters, of complete devotion, or decide to end things swiftly before they get completely out of hand?

I think most of us can tell, when someone is infatuated with us. Unless, you’ve lost any of the sensitivity you were born with, it’s not hard to realise, that he or she isn’t plying you with flattery or gift after gift, just for something to do. He/she is quite keen, to say the least. If that someone, is expressing feelings of love toward you in any way, feelings that you don’t reciprocate, it’s time to have a chat.

Well, look at me, a mere mortal, trying to define, real love. Perhaps, it’s something you can’t nail down? Maybe, it’s the just a feeling one gets deep down, not necessarily in the groin area, but in the dark, murky depths, of the soul?

It’s time to be honest. Not hurtful, just honest. Talking about how they feel, and how that makes you feel, is so important in this situation.

During your ‘honest,’ chat, set boundaries. It’s essential, you let them know where you stand. The attention may be flattering, but make sure you’re not actually thriving on it.

So, is there such a thing as perfect love? I know I’m a cynic, but what you see on the screen or read on the page is nothing more than a momentary distraction.

Real love is the sort where nothing is cut and dried. There will be problems, there will be issues, there will be obstacles. Real love is….?

Well, look at me, a mere mortal, trying to define, real love. Perhaps, it’s something you can’t nail down? Maybe, it’s the just a feeling one gets deep down, not necessarily in the groin area, but in the dark, murky depths, of the soul?

Me? I think it has to do with the knowledge, that life is what it is, and if you’re going to face the ups and downs with anyone on this planet, then this is the person you want to be with. This isn’t perfect love, it’s real love.

As Paul McCartney wrote:

“And, in the end

The love you take

is equal to the love you make.”

Main pic by: @ohleighann

Peter Reeves
Peter Reeves is a radio broadcaster, university lecturer and writer. He has scripted for Count Duckula and Bob the Builder and is currently producing a book with illustrator Korky Paul.

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