Is it love, or something else?
It probably has not been long since you were apprised of the relationship status of some school-goer as being “dating”, “seeing someone”, “having a crush on someone” or “it’s complicated”. More often than not, the same comes as a blow when it’s an answer to the question, “Are you in love?”. Also, terms like “girlfriend”, “boyfriend”, often shortened to “gf” and “bf” respectively have come to be well accepted and are commonly encountered. These terminologies objectify “falling in love” as a voluntary, focused activity, thus undermining it. Seldom do these stay confined to the age-group from whom, expecting an understanding of the intricacies of an emotion as rich as love would be unfair and they well bulge into the relatively elder population.
The reasons behind the widespread usage of such expressions can be numerous, some of the most important being the society and the media. With the media and television controlling the expressions and preferences of the people, taking up the terms introduced and used publicly by telecasts does not come as a surprise. Terms as these float across magazines, newspaper gossips, televisions, social networking websites and what not. One of the immensely popular tv reality shows on one of the music channels often used to denote the relation between the members of any participating team by “dating”. Each of “having a crush”, “seeing someone”, “having a girlfriend/boyfriend” has been on the screen sometime or the other. Though ironical, questions like “how many girlfriends are you having?” are not rare. These tailor-made terms do not pay respect to the intensity of the emotion they address.
For example, the word “dating” would encompass a huge range of applications ranging from someone going out with some random person of the opposite sex out of pseudosexual desires to a couple on an outing with a substantial level of emotional attachment to bind them. So, naturally it wouldn’t be unjustified for the latter to feel undermined if branded as dating each other. Similarly, “having a crush” could be ranging right from a mere attraction to physical appearance without knowing one’s personality to an intense feeling of what could be termed as love. The incorporation of a word as casual as “friend” as a part of a term to mean someone as important as one’s soulmate steals the solemnity of the relationship.
Besides depriving love of its true worth, these pre-defined terms objectify love as a targeted activity, as in, “dating” is often pictured as the nascent stage of a couple “trying to fall in love”. It almost tends to be analogous to “test driving” some vehicle before taking the final decision to purchase the same. They fail to acknowledge the fact that one can never really choose to fall in love. It’s a matter of chance when you do, and if it’s a feeling genuine enough then one would not go through the check points by the name of “crush”, “dating” or “seeing”. Along with the above mentioned flip-sides, readymade terms induce the immature age-group to indulge into experimenting with something they would not be able to handle responsibly. For example, it’s difficult for a tenth grader to be in love, have a soulmate or take a decision about with whom to spend the rest of his life with, but not as difficult to have a girlfriend or boyfriend. These lead to the so called “break-ups” leaving behind a couple of sour minds due to each. Terms like “moving-on” equip many with an escapist mind-set providing with a bail-out plan of a relationship which has almost been well accepted by the society. The average population would naturally tend to be less conscious while deciphering whether he’s struck by an affection, intense enough to be termed as love.
In spite of the infection of the society with such terminologies, one could be made more conscious about the seriousness of ‘love’ as an emotion, with proper parental upbringing, being taught to respect emotions and having a personality strong enough to develop a healthy outlook without following the tide. How could a 10 year old be accused of developing a desire for “dating” if he comes across any of his favorite characters out of television doing the same without being educated through proper elderly guidance. More often, such instincts are overlooked and the child grows up to be accepting them without any objection. With the bulk of society being subjected to such cycles, these terms and hence the associated outlooks enter the dictionary of daily usage. No wonder that even the Microsoft Word does not detect an error in the word “boyfriend” when it does in “soulmate”.