The trials and tribulations of love

As tinsel drifts further and further into its hibernation before the next holiday season, we find ourselves overrun with Hallmark haikus, assorted heart-shaped candies and extravagant floral arrangements — all in an attempt to define love.

Some are edible, dipped in chocolate and only a phone call away. Some are accompanied by stuffed animals, while others are adorned with sparkling jewels.

As they say, love is in the air. It’s all around us. Then again, “they” say lots of things: That love is patient and kind. That it isn’t selfish, jealous, or boastful. That it will conquer all.

In this day and age, however, finding love of this caliber seems almost unreachable. While not entirely impossible hopefully, there seem to be conflicting sources of what 21st century love is or what it should be.

I refrained from looking up too many statistics on divorce rates, infidelity tendencies or on why people wait longer to marry (if ever). I’m already on the fence between believing love is real and not real.

Succumbing to the failed and darker aspects of love-gone-bad seemed a dangerous path.

Like many of you, when the trials and tribulations of real life get me down, I turn to pop culture. Be it for guidance or distraction, surely there would be something to aid in the clotting of my bleeding heart. I should have just stuck with sifting through the litany of empirical data on the subject.

Making sense of life and all that goes with it on your own is hard enough. To include those still hanging onto their 15 minutes of fame is far from productive.

Taylor Swift, for example, has released four albums since 2006 that pander strictly to the scorned or lovelorn crowds. While a song bird to some, her failed romantic endeavors seem to imply a closer comparison to the affection shown by black widow spiders.

Television shows like “The Bachelor” or “The Bachelorette” turned the notion of romance into a rabid free-for-all based solely on superficiality where the only true winners are the network executives who worship ratings over holy matrimony.

Don’t even get me started on the rekindled “relationship” between Rihanna and Chris Brown and what that says about our culture. I’ll leave that for you to ponder.

In the meantime, if you’re like me, then you know that part of the pursuit of love is the struggle that accompanies the journey. While I’m no expert on the subject, and though some struggles in its discovery are harder on some than on others, believing the concept itself is real and attainable might be all it takes.

This time of year is great at reminding us to share our love, affection and respect for those who we care for the most — for those who have cared for us the most.

Like with most strategically placed national celebrations, it’s up to us to find what we are looking for and to then share with those around us.

Proving our worth in the eyes of our significant other is as old as the want to have someone to prove ourselves to.

Whether it’s a pet or significant other this Valentine’s Day, abandon your cynicism and shower those around you with gifts and lavished praise: It’s the least we can do.

 

Reach the columnist at jbfortne@asu.edu or follow him at @JOMOFO40

 

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