I LOVE YOU!
They’re all saying it these days — in schools and colleges, in parks and restaurants, at workplaces and in bedrooms, over the phone and through the e-mail. They first say it as a declaration, then as an assurance.
Even people who normally don’t converse in English, when it comes to expressing this primary emotion, prefer ‘I love you’ to its vernacular equivalent. Just as the way it happens in the movies: the hero or the heroine will flirt in the regional language, but the flirtation usually culminates with the mouthing of the inevitable ‘I love you.’
But when people say ‘I love you’ to each other, what exactly do they mean?
That they want to get married?
That they find each other irresistible?
Or is it an expression of affection or admiration?
Or an unstated agreement to have sex?
No one knows!!
The answer is bound to be as complicated as the definition of love.
But one thing is certain.
Ten years ago, when you said ‘I love you’, no matter what you meant by that, it was taken not only as a declaration of love but also of commitment. It was sacred as a vow. And you usually said it only once in your lifetime — to the person who eventually became your spouse. And the pleasure of saying it was similar to using a smuggled French perfume.
Today, you can get the same perfume in the neighborhood departmental store. Similarly, ‘I love you’ is now a free commodity.
Today, ‘I love you’ no longer means you are the only one I love. It is only an expression of feeling,” says psychiatrist. “People are in a great hurry to fall in love. Having an affair has become a status symbol, especially on campuses.”
So today, people are falling in love more often than ever before. And not just with one person. Today you might be in love with someone, but you are free to walk out if the relationship is stifling and fall in love with someone else. Unlike the days of the past
when only death could do you apart.
Does that mean the present generation is less sincere when it says ‘I love you’? I doesn’t think so. They no longer say it to express a commitment. I believe they mean it when they say it. Perhaps, with culture and tradition, relationships have become flexible too. Rarely do we see a love affair culminating in marriage. Often we find that the victim of an unsuccessful affair soon gets into another one!
This casual attitude of today’s youth can be viewed as a dangerous trend. “When one runs from one relationship to another, it becomes a character trait, only to be continued in future.”
So where does this leave love?
As I heard someone say,”The word love means nothing to me at the moment, but I know when I meet my knight in shining armor, then it will have a lot of significance. At this point in time, if someone said it to me, I would not believe him.”
The answer is simple — ‘I love you’ is no longer the smuggled French perfume.
Say it to any woman today and she’s unlikely to be impressed
Instead, she’s likely to turn back and ask:
“How many people you have said this to before?”
In any case, no one falls in love with a Tom, Dick or Harry these days — something that still happens in movies, where a autorickshaw driver wins the heart of a millionaire’s daughter.
In real life, it’s among equals (something that the strict father of the erring heroine is looking for when pushing her into a room and locking her up). We see this as a natural phenomenon. “By and large, we are drawn to people who are compatible, who we can relate to. That’s the in-built safety mechanism love has. Unless it is an act of rebellion.” So you fall in love with and marry someone compatible.
After that what?
“As long as you are in love minus the responsibilities, you are crazy about it. Once married, the colors start fading. Moreover, where is the time for romance after you have a child?”
One women who, 17 years ago, fought with her parents parents and threatened them with dire consequences if they objected to her marrying the man of her choice. “Now when I think of all those things, it seems so crazy,” she says.
So the question is :
Is it really worth falling in love?
For that, we have to first define love. And that’s not as easy as saying, I love you.