Whether a cutie recently swiped up on your instagram story, you’re in a happy relationship, or you’re just a bit delulu (respectfully) watching soulmate tarot card readings on TikTok to manifest a campus crush as part of your night time routine; it is safe to say we have all been cheekily struck by cupid’s arrow at some point in our lives.
Being in love can serve as a beautiful reminder of our vulnerable human nature, and make us giddy with excitement about what the future could hold for us. It allows us to feel at home in someone else’s company and can make us feel a little less alone in this big scary world. But what does it actually mean to love and be loved?
In the Symposium, Plato presents love as a pursuit of wholeness.
He states that primal humans were created with one body and came in three genders; all-male, all-female and androgynous. On par with some of the scariest pools-of-sweat inducing summer nightmares, these humans were thought to be circular with two faces and eight limbs. They were described as physically strong and fast, and habitually expressed their gratitude by giving gifts and other offerings to the Greek gods that had created them. But soon they started to conspire against the gods, and in an effort to limit their intemperance, the humans were made weaker by being split into two halves.
After being healed from the wounds of being split, they were moulded into the form we currently exist in. However, by being split in half, humans were left to run around the earth in search of their soulmates. When they were successful, they “threw their arms around each other and intertwined them, desiring to grow together into one, dying of hunger and inactivity too because they were unwilling to do anything apart.”
Sigh. Sound familiar?
Thus, the creation of ‘soulmates’ was a consequence of a divine punishment, condemning us to spend the rest of our lives searching for our other halves. Almost makes the endless hours spent swiping on Tinder seem a little bit more justifiable and poetic : ‘ )
Apart from the musings of infamous ancient philosophers, the media also plays a big part in our perception of love. To some extent, the media is responsible for distorting the idea of what love should look like. From grand gestures of organised flash mobs at Grand Central Station, to the little ones like tucking someone’s hair behind their ears while longingly staring into their eyes — movies can set us up for having a few unrealistic expectations when it comes to love. Love is portrayed as a perfect connection that is reciprocated exactly how you want it, one that heals all your problems and promises to last forever to give you a dreamy happily ever after.
Similar to Plato’s depiction of humans as being somewhat existentially wounded, modern day rom-coms often follow the same trope, and present love as the saving grace that will eternally heal us and make us feel whole again. While this take on love makes for a great plotline for a Hallmark Christmas movie, I think love is a bit more complicated than simply serving as cement to fill an empty space in an attempt to make it feel more complete.
Love is a mutual bond between two people built on the promise of care and support for one another, often unconditional, but is able to change in many different ways as the two change and grow. Although far from the easy romances seen on the big screen, I think our yearning for love (even when imperfect), stems from the fact that it is fulfilling. Love provides security, comfort and even a sense of purpose in our lives. And while I am a bit sceptical of the idea of a ‘perfect’ person out there for all of us, I think there are certain people you can form an almost divine bond with, whether romantic or platonic. These are the people who understand your unspoken words, who always seem to show up with a smile when the world seems to have turned its back on you, and the ones whose comfort you crave in a crowded room. And although love cannot magically make us feel complete or fix all our problems, I believe that it can certainly make them more bearable.
So enjoy the love if you are lucky enough to be surrounded by it and don’t forget to remind those around you that you love them today <3
Zai 🙂 xx