I saw this photo on Pinterest the other day, and my initial reaction was to say “Awwww, that’s so cute.” But then I continued to think about it, and realized that it actually kind of problematizes the concept of love in a big way.
Perhaps I’m reading too far into it, but when I look at this photo I think of the notion of “love at first sight,” which in and of itself has always seemed very silly to me. I feel that so much of what constitutes real love is shared experience, so to say that falling in love should be instant removes experience and sharing from the equation entirely. You can’t know someone inside and out (for better or worse) instantly, so in determining whether or not you love someone, all you initially have to base your assertion of love off of is what they tell you of themselves (which can be unreliable), their appearance (which has less to do with love than with libido), and your own feelings in that moment (which are also unreliable). Not a very informed opinion, to say the least.
So love is supposed to be unconditional, right? But how can you be so sure that you love someone when you haven’t seen the negative/unattractive parts of them that test the very unconditionality of your love? Could you truly love someone without knowing about the skeletons in their closet, about their glaring flaws and bad habits? In an instant, it’s possible you could overlook something about a person that you would never be able to abide otherwise, something that might ultimately be a deal-breaker. You would never know unless you knew them.
And I think that’s what bothers me the most about this photo: it treats love very reductively. Love is an incredibly complex concept/idea/feeling that can’t be simply boiled down to attraction or inflammation of emotions or instantaneous self-assurance that this person is “the One.” To attempt to do so blights the otherwise beautiful face of love.
Love, in its essence, is rooted in trust, commitment, shared experience, and knowledge and understanding of the other and of oneself, none of which are things that happen instantly. It takes time to build a love that isn’t wobbly and on the verge of crumbling from poor infrastructure. As Americans, we tend to be impatient for the things we desire and want them instantly, even love. I wonder what’s so wrong with taking it slow, letting small units of time measurement build up and bolster love, slowly but surely, until it’s unshakeable. We have so much time; why do we need it instantly?