Love: It’s magic, and butterflies in your stomach, and candlelit dinners, and perfectly filtered Instagram pictures, and blah, blah, blah, blah, bleghhh.
Can we cut the crap already?
1. “The course of true love never did run smooth.” — William Shakespeare
Okay, to be fair, I will acknowledge that this oft-quipped quote is not totally untrue. Some of the greatest love stories ever told (including those penned by the Bard himself) were riddled with trials and tribulations. That being said, I take umbrage with the idea we’re set up to believe that our relationships are going to be filled with CONSTANT LIFE-ALTERING DRAMA.
Some of the strongest, longest-lasting relationships out there have been lucky enough to dodge life’s drama. Not every love story gets the sweeping Shakespearean treatment. Not every couple’s love is tested with a “do or die” challenge, but that isn’t to say that their love is less “true.” Some of the couples I’ve known to last the longest, in fact, don’t make mountains out of molehills. They just let it roll away like water off a duck’s back. Yes, this is a pretty little soundbite and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that Shakespeare is the literary king of pretty little soundbites, but it’s not exactly fair. And what if you couldn’t overcome those bumps in the road and broke up? Just because you couldn’t overcome the death of a family member or the demolition of your home or whatever, doesn’t mean that you didn’t wholeheartedly love each other at the time. You were still two people who loved each other and tried your damned hardest to make it work. But it just didn’t. You were both smart enough to see the differences were too great and you decided to part ways. That doesn’t mean your love wasn’t worthwhile. And after all, if we take a closer look at Shakespeare’s vision of “true love”, his fictional couples end up dead half the time. So there.
2. “I finally understood what true love meant … love meant that you care for another person’s happiness more than your own, no matter how painful the choices you face might be.” — Nicholas Sparks
I know, I know, I’m a horrible, heartless human being devoid of a soul because I included The Almighty Lord Of Love Stories aka Nicholas Sparks on this list. Excuse me while I continue to not care.
Are there cases when this relationship philosophy is true? Sure. If you love someone, but if they don’t love you back, then it’s best to go your separate ways. There are times in a committed relationship when you sacrifice (on a less serious, I’m the only moron left alive who hasn’t watched the finale of Breaking Bad because my boyfriend wants to watch it together — that’s commitment, you guys). That being said, you should never be a martyr to love. And I think Nicholas Sparks (as much as I cried like a baby at the end of The Notebook), is guilty of this a lot in his novels. You have to fulfill your own happiness before you can share it with someone else. It’s not a matter of making the other person’s happiness a priority 24/7. That makes you a doormat of love. It’s a matter of balancing their happiness with yours. Also, can I just point out that this quote COMPLETELY contradicts another oft-quoted line penned by Mr. Sparks, “You can’t live your life for other people. You’ve got to do what’s right for you, even if it hurts some people you love.” … well? WHICH IS IT?
3. “All you need is love.” — The Beatles
Well, biologically speaking, you need food, water and oxygen. But who’s counting the details? Have fun sustaining your bodily functions on all that lovin’, bro.
4. “I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.” ― Marilyn Monroe
Yes, I understand the mass appeal of Ms. Marilyn Monroe (if not mostly by sorrority biddies). But the woman was not someone from whom to take serious love advice. First of all, let’s get real here. This quote basically sums up to mean that crap you pulled in high school when you “tested” a guy’s love for you: “If you loved me, you would do [insert ridiculous expectation here]. And if you can’t do it, you don’t deserve me.” (Or maybe, you’re still doing this, in which case, you need to grow up.) Secondly, when she says, she gets “out of control and at times hard to handle” … what exact level of reckless abandon are we talking about here? A little pre-coffee crankiness in the morning or throwing pots at your boyfriend’s face? Because those are two very different things that could easily both fall under these decidedly ambiguous parameters. Thirdly, no one deserves anyone else’s “WORST.” And as for “selfish” and “impatient” … ? Why should you be with someone who is self-proclaimed narcissist? I mean, really.
This woman didn’t exactly have a stellar dating history, especially with Joe DiMaggio. (Don’t even try to tell me about the “delivered a bouquet of roses to her grave every week” story — he abused her and then deeply regretted it. That’s what THAT was.) And if you read any of her other quotes, they just reek of codependency and desperation. I rest my case.
5. “We are most alive when we’re in love.” — John Updike
Oh, REALLY now? Because I know plenty of people who have enjoyed the best years of their lives single and uninhibited. I know people who have roadtripped solo cross-country, who have travelled to foreign countries like Nepal and France, who have taught kids in rural China, and completed journalistic fellowships in Thailand. And embarking on these adventures was only possible because these people were totally untethered to someone else’s heart. They were completely free from the responsibility of playing caretaker to the happiness of another human being. Sure, love is a many splendored thing … but everyone needs to experience the freedom of singledom at least once in their lifetime. If you don’t know how to make yourself happy, how will you know how to make someone else happy? I call B.S. on you, John Updike.
6. “With love, one can live even without happiness.” — Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Wow, okay. THAT’S cryptic. In fact, this kinda sounds like what domestic abusers say to their victims. And aren’t we supposed to assume that love IS happiness? Otherwise, what the hell kind of “love” is this? Does this quote even need to be explained?
7. “He’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.” — Emily Bronte
I’ve never understood the collective enthrallment people have with Wuthering Heights. (I know, I know, cue the epic bibliophilic rage: “WHAT?! But you’re a WRITER. How can you call even yourself an English major and hate on such a literary classic?!”) Well, guess what? I’m doing it: I’m hating on it. Hardcore. Right now. Deal with it. Maybe the soul mate sentiment is sweet in theory, but the first part of this oft-quoted line is what really gets me: “He’s more myself than I am.”
No, ma’am. You are not the sum of two parts. You can be whole despite not having someone to curl up with at night. You are not just someone’s girlfriend. Let’s try having standards, shall we?
8. “Till this moment, I never knew myself.” ― Jane Austen, Pride And Prejudice
(Excuse me while I warm up my ocular muscles for this one. It’s a doozy.) AGAIN with the “not knowing myself”? Really, Lady Austen? For a writer who has been heralded for centuries as “beyond your time”, your outlook on love sounds pretty old school to me. Two people meet each other, hate each other for several chapters, but then begrudgingly come to the mutual conclusion that their reciprocal disdain for one another is, actually, true love. Post-1800s, Jane Austen, your formulaic, predictable-as-all-hell love stories have become the stuff of C-list rom-coms. Oh yeah, I went there.
9. “You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world … but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices.” ― John Green, The Fault In Our Stars
Oooookay, wait a minute. So the proposed theory here is that I have absolutely no control over my own love life? Inevitably, I’ll get my heart smashed into a million pieces … but I have consolation in the knowledge that I can pick who wields the hammer? Yeah, no. I’ll pass. John Green neglects to mention that you do have a definitely less dramatic option B here: The people you love can choose to NOT HURT YOU. Isn’t that preferable? If Mr. Green is suggesting that I can almost guarantee I will get my heart broken in my relationships, then I’ll stick to my Nutella and Netflix, thanks.
10. “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” — Ali MacGraw, Love Story
Crap. Crap. Total crap. This craptastic one-liner has been celebrated in cinematic history for years and years and freakin’ years. But the buck stops here with me. In reality, this quote is probably parroted by nagging spouses who don’t ever consider themselves to be in the wrong. Think those women on Bridezillas. (And they’re such stellar examples of human compassion, aren’t they?) To the contrary, Ali MacGraw, love means having the strength to put your ego aside and “say you’re sorry” when you did, in fact, screw up. But then again, Love Story didn’t exactly have a happy ending, did it?