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A Mere Experience

The consummate manifesto: an argument for honesty, confidence, and realism in the face of college romance and ‘love.’

“Manifesto: a written statement that describes the policies, goals, and opinions of a person or group” – Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Back in 1986, American psychologist Robert Sternberg created what we know now as the triangular theory of love. In his theory, he described all love as being comprised of three major components: intimacy, passion, and commitment. In other words, think of the difference between the love of a friend (intimacy), that of a lover (passion), and that of a family member (commitment). Each component was a different point of the triangle, and one’s relationship with any particular person could fall into one of eight categories:

Nonlove, which is characterized as a majority of our casual interactions with individuals; liking/friendship (intimacy only); infatuation (passion only); empty love (commitment only, like an arranged marriage); romantic love (intimacy and passion); companionate love (intimacy and commitment); fatuous love (passion and commitment); and, finally a combination of the three.

As the theory goes, the more components of love present in your relationship with an individual, the stronger the love will be. The Holy Grail, and what I name my manifesto on, is what Sternberg called “consummate love” or the combination of intimacy, passion, and commitment. To him, it is used to describe the “perfect couple” and is not only hard to obtain but even harder to sustain. It is the goal that we strive for.

Love is not for the weak hearted. More likely than not, you will be rejected more times than you will be successful.

For years, I have been utterly fascinated by love, and not just as someone who is a self-described “romantic.” I have come to look at the topic analytically both as a psychology major and as an individual who truly wants to understand why people feel the way they do. After years of humbly being a close friend to those who have asked my advice on the matter, I have come to develop my own beliefs on the topic, especially in relation to “collegiate romances.” Whether you are just trying to find someone to hook up with for the night or hoping to meet a person you can be in a serious and committed relationship with, there are three principles that we all must consider if we wish to be more successful and even change the status quo.

For starters, honesty is always the best policy. Not only with others but also with yourself. What do I mean? People do not become jaded to love just because they are unsuccessful (although that certainly plays a factor). What really turns people off and makes them bitter is being lied to, whether that is through outright deception or the perpetration of false expectations. But before one can be honest with others, we have to be honest with ourselves. What the heck do you want? Do you just want someone to stick their tongue down your throat? Do you want someone to cuddle with and watch “Doctor Who?” Do you want something completely different or something in-between? It does not matter what it is because there is no wrong answer. You just have to know how to fill in that blank. Once you are finally able to be honest with yourself, you have to also be honest with others. It may seem frank, but think about it: if more people were just honest about what they wanted, then there would be far less miscommunication and mistrust in the system. But this is much easier said than done.

Love is not for the weak hearted. More likely than not, you will get rejected more times than you are successful. To that I say…deal. I’m sorry that’s life and, last time I checked, you are not guaranteed anything. You have to be willing to put yourself out there. More importantly, you have to be confident in loving yourself as well. And remember, this goes for everyone. It is 2014. Do not just sit there and wait for the other person to make the first move. No matter your gender, sex, or sexual orientation, you will always miss out if you do nothing. There are almost seven billion people in the world, and just because one says no to you, that does not mean the world is over. Even if you are rejected by a thousand people, you have only been rejected by 0.00001428571% of the population. Look—I know these numbers and sayings do not mean much, and at the end of the day, you still may feel apprehensive. The truth is that you cannot expect someone to just waltz up to you and ask you out for coffee. You have to take the initiative. And nine times out of ten, you will even surprise yourself.

That all being said, confidence alone cannot make miracles happen. No amount of honesty in your intentions or confidence in yourself can help you if you are striving for a fantasy. This is not some cliché Disney movie. This is the real world. I do not say this to mean that people are innately shallow (although some are), but we cannot kid ourselves: physical attraction and that indefinable “chemistry” do play a significant role in love. Just because you are “nice” does not mean a thing. Being a decent human does not translate to you finding love. Even worse is when you put someone you barely know on a pedestal and create an unattainable image of them that they will never be able to live up to. You have set yourself up for disappointment. If you are going to put yourself out there, do it for someone you have shared interests with, someone you find cute, and someone you have gotten to know by walking past each other on your way to Spanish class. I am not saying that you should “settle,” but I am saying that you should not waste your time pining over someone you know you have nothing in common with and is not at the same level of emotional or mental maturity as you are. It is true; sometimes the heart wants what the heart wants. But we were given a brain too. Just because it is a feeling, that does not mean you throw reason out the window. Even love can be rationalized.

I know this is not the end all be all, and you may very well disagree. But to find the love you are looking for, whatever it may entail, involves being honest, confident, and real. Find truth, go boldly, and be smart. If you succeed in doing so, nothing in this world can stop you.

The opinions on this page do not necessarily reflect those of The Sandspur, its staff or Rollins College.


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