How deep is your love?

Do you swear by the ‘five love languages’ test? Well, that theory may not be the most scientific way to deduce the quality of your relationship

How deep is your love?

One of our English professors in college took a more pessimistic stance towards love. Obviously, he wasn’t teaching us the Romantics, and his realistic approach seemed to suit his general vibe too. He’d often say that the story actually begins when the book finishes or the film ends — his argument being that there are no sappy happily-ever-afters and the protagonists would soon be scathed by the jagged edges of life.

I think back in our day, we were still far removed from the realities that the younger generation grapples with today. We were still idealistic about love and few would have spoken of heartbreaks and ugly relationships as openly as they do today. Back then, an English professor speaking of an anti-love theory, so to speak, seemed alluring but also unrelatable. Due to his unconventional take on love, the professor became massively popular among students, especially female ones, gaining almost a cult status. And while his theories would be publicly discussed and debated on the famous green benches of our hallowed college grounds, in private, most of us clutched our precious partners closer, hoping that the brutal realities would remain limited to the lives of literary characters. But that’s not life, is it?

I never miss a chance to write about love. No better time than the forced, highly commercialised ‘day of love’ — Valentine’s Day — to provide a ready peg for my weekly column. But this year, I wanted to write about it once the barrage of ‘what to buy your beloved/what to do with your beloved’ stories had ended. Love is the most precious, albeit increasingly hard to acquire, commodity?...umm, let’s say emotion, instead. It literally makes the world go round. The most repeated driver of cinematic plots, the reason behind true-life crimes, befuddles the best of minds — love is the greatest catalyst of all times. Even the lack of it can trigger a cascading effect in people’s lives. Instead of adding meaning, it can create an unmitigable vacuum; causing destruction instead of survival; lives are lost when unanchored by love. Well, I’m sure this doesn’t apply to all and there are superhumans capable of living fulfilling lives with self-love, productive hobbies, family and friends, intensive work lives, yada yada yada. True that, but there’s no denying that for most base, not-yet-saint humans (like me), love is that intangible element which is truly worth life’s strife.

We can experience love for parents, siblings, kids, pets, and friends, but the love of a partner is always going to be special. Whether you’ve loved and lost or your partner died on you, or you’re still blessed to have them around — one must, at least once in life, feel the throes of love and live through the entire gamut of emotions — insecurity, jealousy, anger, pain, euphoria, laughter. The sensations brought on by distance, departure, reuniting, lies, detachment. There are countless aspects of a ‘love’ well-lived, so let’s just say in a nutshell — one must feel a love so passionate that it takes you through ebbs and flows. Though all won’t opt for it, and not all such loves will survive, but for those that choose this adventure of a lifetime, it’s one helluva ride!

And for a healthy relationship that thrives and grows, it’s important to be able to communicate effectively with your partner. The famous “five love languages” theory propounded by Gary Chapman has recently been debunked by experts who believe that while those five hold true, there are indeed many ways of expressing love. Chapman said that everyone has a ‘primary’ love language and if it matches with one’s partner, would lead to a high-quality relationship. While he’s not completely astray with this thought, love itself is more complex. Psychology researchers, Emily A. Impett, Haeyoung Gideon Park, and Amy Muise, recently deduced that Chapman’s hypothesis doesn’t stand the scientific test. Instead, they offered an “alternative metaphor”, that of love as a “balanced diet”, wherein partners “share what they need at different times”.

So, now that Valentine’s Day’s nauseating consumerism is petering down, ask yourself what kind of love you have or want. Is it a patient love that waits for you as you figure out or fix your messy life? Is it a mature love that gives space and support for both individuals to grow and prosper? Perhaps yours is a passionate love that even after the passage of time feels longing and desire. Is it a toxic love that demeans and demands the most corrosive actions, and surely must go? Or is it an indifferent love where actions don’t matter and sorry lives are lived separately? For the love story to continue once the curtains fall, it would require a constant feeding and nurturing of needs, desires, and even the soul. Today, one knows that the old college professor wasn’t too off the mark.

The writer is an author and media entrepreneur. Views expressed are personal

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