“I don’t believe in true love,” says Adam, “It’s a made up concept.”
“Do you believe that love exists or is it just that you don’t believe in true love?”
“I don’t believe in true love. I don’t believe in ‘the one and only true love.’ I believe that love can be created and [it can] grow.”
As usually happens with people of a certain age and in a certain stage in life, the conversation turns to the current state of our lives and the idealized mythologies that shape our perceptions of it. Adam’s approach is pragmatic. “Like anything that’s beautiful, in this life and in this world, [it] needs to be nurtured and taken care of. Otherwise it could die or it could wither away or it could kill itself or whatever,” he says and shrugs.
“It takes a lot of hard work,” he continues. Adam is currently in a serious relationship with a woman he believes he will marry. “I’m not naïve enough to think that it’s going to be easy. I know there’s going to be some very difficult times. The problem is that in this instant gratification society people don’t see that.”
“But why not believe in true love?”
“The reason I don’t believe in true love is because… first of all true love is a recent concept. People for centuries have married not necessarily out of love – for convenience, for money, for treaties, for political purposes, for personal reasons – and, in spite of that, beautiful novels have been written, poems have been written, songs have been written.”
“But modern marriage has nothing to do with that,” I protested.
“Wait,” he says, holding up his hand to prevent an interruption so he can address the issue. “In India most people don’t meet their spouse till the day of the wedding. And there’s no lack of sex in that country since there’s a billion people. They’re gettin’ down and they’re gettin’ busy enough,” he says and laughs.
“If you think back to the age of chivalry and the stories of King Arthur’s court, people still got married for pragmatic reasons but they still believed in true love. In fact, that’s where the whole idea started,” I say, trying to reason with him.
“That was mythology, dude,” he says and rolls his eyes. “That was one of the periods of the most strategic marriages ever. That was when people from across continents would send paintings of their daughters [to potential suitors].”
“They still married but they still had true love with other people?”
“Right. You can have true love with anyone.”
“Do you believe in soul mates?”
“No,” he says without hesitation. “What does that mean? Like you’re going to be two stars in the sky together?” The sarcasm is heavy in his tone. Adam is a sharp observer of life and its absurdities and usually expresses his observations with his own unique brand of humor. “I just read an article today about a person who, when he was in elementary school, had a crush on this girl,” he begins the story of the young couple who soon thereafter part ways but not before the boy tells the girl that he was going to marry her. Both of them grow up, built lives, marry and have children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren. The boy, now an old man, becomes widowed and eventually moves into a retirement home where he finds his childhood sweetheart, also a resident. “They just got married. He made good on his promise from the third grade. So who’s the guy’s soul mate? The person he created this beautiful family with or this person he had met in the third grade? If he goes up to heaven, if you believe in heaven, who is he going to hang out with? Is he going to have a ménage a trois? That’s silly,” he says with a wave of his hand. “I have enough faith in God to know that He’ll probably figure it out. Maybe on a bi-weekly basis,” he says, offering a possible solution to the complexities the man will face in the afterlife. “The point is, we shouldn’t fool ourselves. There’s love, there’s emotions, there’s strong emotions but everything in life is fleeting and you have to work hard at it to keep it fresh and new. There’s going to be days when my girlfriend will be like ‘Akh, waking up next to this guy again.’ There’s going to be days when I’m going to wake up and I’m going to think that.”
“I read an interesting new book about marriage and one of the quotes was that marriage changes a relationship. It said ‘Marriage is when you suddenly wake up having slept next to a relative.’ It happens in every relationship.”
“More than the physical attraction, more than any type of sexual interaction, what I know about her [girlfriend] to be true and that I do know I love her more than I’ve loved any other person that I’ve dated is that any time I do something new or experience something new and she isn’t there I feel guilty about it. It somehow wasn’t right without her,” Adam says showing a rare glimpse into his inner thoughts about his relationship.
Adam believes that relationships are built on shared experiences, both good and bad. “If a relationship isn’t that then what is it?” He goes on to clarify that it’s not about sharing every single experience but sharing enough of it to create a body of memories together.
Thoughts on the nature of true love have been on Adam’s mind for a while. He has delved deep into the elements that make up the dynamics of his current relationship to determine its significance both in the present and in the future. He’s concluded that this particular relationship embodies all that was important to him. “Another way I know that the bond [with my girlfriend] is strong is that, as a guy you think about what your relationship with your unborn son is going to be like. You play out in your mind your father’s relationship, your grandfather’s. It’s a very male thing to do… to play those things out. What kind of father will you be and what will you do. It wasn’t until I met my girlfriend, started dating her and then started thinking about marrying her that I realized for the first time that I wouldn’t mind having a daughter. I would love to have a daughter if she came out like her [girlfriend]. Not a female version of me because that would just not be pretty. But a little version of her would be cute,” he says, once again proving that men also think deeply about love, marriage and romance.