Nobody ever gets sick of talking about sex and dating. Arguing about it. Moralizing about it. Musing about what could be better, what was lost between now and the late aughts, pre-Tinder, Bumble, Hinge.
There’s something missing from these conversations though, and it’s always missing, no matter how many times we retread the same ground, no matter what perspective you take.
I almost never see anyone talk about love or romance.
You would imagine that affection would be the most salient piece in our never-ending conversation about our often stifled desire for human connection.
This lack of emotion is a blindspot in all Internet-anchored discourse, though.
Polemics about how us Internet-addled, soy-subsisting, pod-living moderns don’t prioritize family planning nearly enough, as well as the less natalist counter-arguments, curiously leave out things like fostering relationships with the family you already have or even, more generally speaking, questions like, “What makes a good parent?” or “Once we have children, how do we want to raise them?”
The answer to why this is is obvious. Many of the people asking these questions or starting these conversations aren’t really thinking them through. The turn around time is just too quick. They’re relevant for a day until the Discourse dredges them up again. The Discourse is first and foremost a hobby. I wouldn’t go as far to say that we’re all a bunch of grifters and scam artists, but let’s be real, we are hobbyists.
Love’s mysterious absence from our conversations about sex and dating is a shame, though.
Romantic love is much more interesting than sex; more interesting than the endgame of not having to date again. Its possibility, if not its arrival, is what makes dating itself thrilling. Romantic love is what binds unconventional couples together. It is transformative, for better and for worse. Your behavior changes; the way you look changes; the way you see the world changes.
Love makes us complacent.
It makes mundane things feel suddenly exciting. It is what helps us enjoy farmer’s markets and strolls through unremarkable cities like San Jose or Mountain View. Love makes working an unfulfilling 9 to 5 feel worth it, because you still go home to your husband or wife or partner.
It’s never easier to be happier with less than when you’re in love.
What I think is also remarkable, and rarely mentioned, is how no amount of social alienation can prevent people from falling in love. People fall in love in every kind of circumstance, from grotesque decadence to increasingly suffocating pod-life.
The possibility is always there.