To love and to be in love with ‘that someone special’ is wonderful. However, ‘love’, I believe has been the most grossly misunderstood and misused word over the ages. Sounds quite blunt, right?

In this article, we are not going into the intricacies of how ‘love’ has been misunderstood and misused. This article is about identifying and living out ‘love’ – more specifically romantic love – in reality.

Pre-teen and teen hearts often flutter with words like love, crush, boyfriend, girlfriend, kiss, date and more such terms found in the league. Rightly so! Pre-hormonal and hormonal bodies tune up the mind and activate the neurotransmitters for higher order human functioning, which includes romantic love.

Love is differently coloured in different societies, though it is experienced by all. In open-cultured societies, the identification and expression of love is encouraged. Whereas, in conservative societies, love often goes unidentified and unexpressed in the absence of appropriate articulation.

Well, times are changing and the world is rapidly turning into a huge global village with an impressive amalgamation of cultures, cuisines and couture. And, it doesn’t take much time for young minds and hearts to blend irrespective of certain externally evident differences. Herein lies the catch!

Firstly, do young people today perceive love with the eyes of the media – romance as portrayed in movies, daily soaps, videos or do they really have an understanding of what love is? Sadly, most youngsters label the fluttering feelings within themselves for another person, as love and that is how they embark on an extremely dangerous emotional roller-coaster ride. Love is a state of being; not a mere feeling. Love is not a feeling; it gives rise to certain feelings and emotions. Once this is understood, the mind steers the ship in the right direction. Hence, it turns out to be worth the wait.

Secondly, do young people decide to be in a love relationship for their own sakes or for the sake of their families or society at large? While, this may seem to be a non-issue in open societies, this sure is an important consideration in conservative close-cultured societies – where families and communities play a dominant part in partner selection. In such settings, love is all hush-hush, spoken with low voices and raised eyebrows and feelings of guilt heaped upon the ‘dared-to-have-loved’ people. Hence, it is important that youngsters gain clarity in this regard before they move ahead.

A word for parents

Irrespective of culture, it is important that people are exposed to the right messages and the right role models. Along with providing food, clothing and shelter, it is also a huge responsibility on the part of parents and elders to impart the essential information regarding love life to their children. None can deny that we’ve all been through such phases of lives ourselves. But, few of us were blessed enough to have been able to discuss such issues with parents. As a result, some ended up being confused, some suppressed love, some committed blunders, and some even gave up their lives! Hence, a word for parents and guardians – do be open enough to talk, discuss, understand and guide (not merely lecture) your pre-teens and teens regarding their impending love life while assuring that you are with them, should they mess up anytime.

A word for young people

People in love or waiting to enter into such a blissful phase need to observe, observe and observe. Observe the person you feel drawn towards and observe your own continued state of mind before you commit into a relationship. And once you commit, stay committed despite all odds unless of course, you realize that there is something that won’t stand the test of times. Love is neither a one-night-stand nor a bet to be won. It can neither develop on coercion nor sustain itself by repeated blind experimentation. It takes hard work, but it sure is worth it all.

A Shakespearean sonnet that I had been taught in my undergraduate class, titled ‘True Love’ is worth mentioning in this article. It speaks of the stability of love amidst tempests and changing times. If love changes, then it was never love in the first place. The sonnet reads thus –

Let me not to the marriage of true minds

Admit impediments; love is not love

Which alters when it alteration finds,

Or bends with the remover to remove:

O, no, it is an ever-fixèd mark,

That looks on tempests and is never shaken;

It is the star to every wand’ring bark,

Whose worth’s unknown, although his heighth be taken.

Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks

Within his bending sickle’s compass come;

Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,

But bears it out even to the edge of doom.

If this be error and upon me proved,

I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

A world rich in love and blossoming lasting relationships is definitely a world worth looking forward to!