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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Relationships: the coursing of true love

Published: March 27, 2009
Section: Opinions

Apparently, I am receiving the sacrament of Confirmation this weekend. I thought it was happening sometime in April, which would give me some more time to work out my commitment issues, but I suppose I have reflected enough about what it means to be fully embraced by the warm bosom of the Church (this is where you snicker and say “bosom”). But actually, because I have been thinking about commitment, and devotion, and all sorts of silly things like that, I have been pondering the more mundane relationships than the one that one has with God.

I watched “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” multiple times last week, mostly because it brings back fond sixth grade memories of getting to yell at the boy I had a crush on while he wore donkey ears. The play itself is a comedy, but the dialogue is more mean than funny and the fantastical plot elements do not seem out of place with the chaos of everyday love. Shakespeare emphasizes quite well not the humor, but rather the absurdity of relationships even among otherwise intelligent and powerful people. He was incredibly ahead of his time in stating that love is nothing more than an illusion created by inappropriately applied chemicals, a strange daze produced by a sudden flow of foreign substances. It’s funny to think that people can feel so much, get so hurt, allow themselves to be so embarrassed, by an emotion that can boil down to a conceit about mischievous fairies.

It is our brains’ fault. All the little chemicals swimming around, all the glandular secretions oozing through ducts cause problems. It all comes down to that weird little biological urge to reproduce (now you say “ew”), and the function of that urge, something called attraction. The Discovery Channel or Manswers can tell you all about monthly cycles triggering hormones and pheromones which smell good to the opposite sex. It’s funny to think that if you see a guy paying attention to a girl he has never noticed before, it is probably because she smells fertile (say “ew” again). Also, girls will show more skin when ovulating, laugh more around men and move more seductively. This is why you should always use protection. Anyway, you see this person, you feel drawn to them and you talk to them. “Hey, you’re an artist? Well, I have this Titanic fantasy…”

But honestly, it does not matter how you both can sing about the fields of Athenry, or both love pierogi, or both read Neil Gaiman. A relationship that forms from a solid foundation is nice, but it’s all a function of those little chemicals in our brains, which reduce us to nothing more than spiraling coils of self-replicating DNA.

So when you enter a new relationship, it really is not worth getting all caught up in this person, who I’m sure is lucky to have you. It’s silly to spend all your time with them, call them for constant updates, and write poems about your feelings (I wrote a villanelle once…). This person is probably not your soul mate. In college, that is basically a guarantee. They have a nice set of genes, similar enough to make you comfortable and conform to societal expectations, but different enough so that there is little chance of inbreed diseases (think of the flipper-ed children!). It’s nice to have someone to talk to and maybe cuddle with on a regular basis, but seriously, NBD. Same thing for break ups. When your pheromonally-pleasing friend gets boring, or seeks another well-endowed (with genes) person, that’s evolution, not you. All this talk about waning passion and personal growth, it’s not you it’s me, it’s just a sugarcoating on the cake of animal urges. There is nothing like love to reduce people to animals. I think there is a Nine Inch Nails song about this (you know the one).

Perspective is an important feature of rational thought that often gets lost once the flower juice has been applied to one’s eyes. As my friends all seem to be going through incredibly interesting and varied relationship dramas, I just want to provide a tiny drop of it, along with hugs, tissues, and respect for socks on doorknobs. Love can be all-consuming, but that is because it can dance through the synapses of your brain like cocaine. There really is no reason to get too excited, enamored, or hurt in a relationship, because feelings are not concrete, important things.

With control, understanding, and moderation, you can have some wicked fun like Puck and the fairy nobles, rather than come out looking like an ass.