Dealing the Love Drug
Urban Dictionary defines it as “the greatest and the worst thing that could ever happen to a person” and in a similar vein, according to Oscar Wilde, it’s “a misunderstanding between two fools.” Love. A simple, unassuming, four letter word, that the whole world tends to go crazy for. Unsurprisingly, as we all have an innate need to be loved and to love in return. So, it seems we have two ideas here. Either that love’s an illusion, a mere misunderstanding bound to fail, and only idiots believe they have it, or alternatively an experience that is both the most amazing and most painful in existence. Woah.
We see love in movies, in music, advertising, books: the happy endings and the fairy-tale kisses, but often the way media illustrates love comes across as fantastical and cheesy. So, what exactly is love? Real love, the kind that dwells in the day to day, that sticks around through all the tough stuff, and isn’t all candlelit dinners and rose bouquets… Furthermore, where do we find it, how do we obtain it, and when do we know it’s ‘the real thing’? I definitely cannot claim to answer all these questions in just a few short pages (not even remotely close), but they’re definitely worth exploring!
After the Fall
We go through a honeymoon phase when we first fall in love. It’s the whole rose-tinted glasses scenario, where the sun shines out their ass and they’re genuinely perfect, right? Sound familiar? Sure, that’s falling in love. Our brains do a great job at pumping some strong hormones through our bodies (like oxytocin) that make falling in love the wonderful and powerful feeling that it is. But what happens when you’ve fallen, hit the ground, the brain fuzziness clears, and you stand up to greet the person you fell for in the first place. If you still want to stick around, that’s a great start. So, what comes next?
I’ll be honest, sitting down to write this article I was confronted: I mean shit, what do I know about such a massive and complex topic – one that has both plagued and inspired writers for millennia, a theme that saturates our lives, stretching across almost all forms of media? We are socialised to pursue the supposed good life of a loving marriage, comfortable townhouse, 2.5 kids and maybe a happy Labrador on the side. Love: a thing to strive for, the main thing people tend to be referring to when they say, ‘the best things in life are free’. Obviously, I am no expert: I thought I’d investigate what the experts had to say, and who better than good ol’ ma and pa? Considering they’re still going strong after 22 years of marriage, surely, they’ve been doing something right. I asked them both what they considered to be important in order to maintain a healthy relationship, and while Dad wasn’t able to get back to me in time, here’s what my mother dearest had to say…
Hot Takes from Mum:
My mum identified four key attributes she believes are necessary to a lasting, loving relationship:
1. Sense of Humour
I have to say I knew this would be her first comment. Rightly so too, humour is super important, especially during stressful times and can help release tensions. “I truly believe that is what has kept Dad and I together. When we row, we can usually, eventually get to a place of truce. The humour we have helps even when the intimacy is lacking.” (Mum, 2018)
2. Learning From Each Other
“We often gravitate to people who have quite a different personality to ourselves. This is good because a person who might be naturally confrontational, may get on well with a non-confrontational person for example. Over time, if they stay together, the confrontational person might end up learning some peace-keeping skills – i.e. knowing when to shut up. Conversely, the non-confrontational person might learn that sometimes it is good to speak your mind.” Again, this is a great point. People who have different temperaments to us can offer us the opportunity to better develop attributes that we’re not so strong in, and vice versa.
3. Similar Values
“While opposite personalities attract, similar values make for a more peaceful union. We might both believe in the importance of saving, keeping debt down, the importance of family, honesty etc. Once you have children, if your values are different this can cause huge problems with disciplining: for instance, if one parent is quite strict and the other is more permissive. While you’re not always going to agree, it’s true that being a united front for the children is extremely important for peace and harmony in the family.” While a lot of us may not have children at the forefront of our minds right now, having values that are compatible with your partner is surely a no brainer. If you enjoy hitting those pingaz on the reg and your partner is staunchly sober, you’re both probably gonna have a bad time making it work.
4. Regular Dates
Mum reckons this might be the most important, especially when you have been together a long time. “It becomes easy to fall into the trap of being like flatmates – or worse, flatmates who don’t even like each other… [or] sharing everything with your friends and nothing with your partner. The regular date – even monthly – really helps to bring you face to face, talking, enjoying each other in the way that you did when you first met.”
My Own Thoughts
Worthwhile love has a few standout characteristics – many of which are echoed in my mum’s statements above:
• For starters, you want to have things in common. Namely:
o You both have a deep-seated psychological need to put pineapple on pizza
o You both believe in the Magic of Christmas
o You both believe in ghosts
o You both believe in the Ghost of Christmas Past
o You both own and care for pet rats
o You’re both into classical music
• This is a tricky one; everybody knows it’s important, but day to day it can be easy to get into routines and not spend enough time just talking about anything and everything. A good way to make sure you’re communicating is making time for each other on a regular basis… which ties well into the next point:
Quality Time Together
• Self-explanatory really: have cute dates, do things with each other. Some suggestions, both typical and offbeat
o Have a swim/spa at the pool
o Watch a movie
o Go to an arcade
o Frisbee golf at Jellie Park
o Coffee and cake at a café – ideally off campus: keep it classy
o Visit the botanic gardens
o Attend an exercise class together
o See a music concert
o Go to a sports game
Sex & Intimacy
• Have sexy times – I feel this doesn’t need a heap of instruction. Not to run the risk of sounding like a Cosmopolitan article on Spicing up Your Sex Life, but maybe uhh
o Shower/bathe together
o Role play, if you’re in DramaSoc or something
o Snuggling ftw (!!)
o Change up the scenery – who said the bed was the only place to get it on…?
o Mood lighting, candles etc
Well, that’s about all the time we have folks – thanks for tuning in! Stay groovy, and love responsibly.