Prince Charming found Snow White asleep in a glass coffin. He awoke her with just one kiss, took her in his strong arms and whisked her away to the palace on his white steed.
And then they lived happily ever after.
Or did they?
Let’s assume that Snow White and Prince Charming really did tie the knot. The current divorce rate in Britain is 42%, so their chances wouldn’t look too great. Let’s factor in Snow White’s dwarf fetish, the fact that their mutual adoration is based on little more than good looks, and the insidious phantom of a power-woman Evil Queen who is determined to get the Prince into bed.
Who’s feeling optimistic?
I am terrified of love. I switch over the minute Magic FM plays anything sentimental (not before swearing loudly at the radio), I think Valentine’s Day was the brainchild of Satan and I think joint bank accounts are the most precarious thing since McDonalds started serving seafood.
And I’m not the only one.
I Don’t Want To Write You A Love Song
Once upon a time, The Beatles declared that ‘All You Need Is Love’. ‘I Will Always Love You’, shrieked Whitney Houston. ‘I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing’, roared Steve Tyler’s monstrous mouth.
Modern music reflects an increasingly ‘bittersweet’ attitude towards love.
Representing us in the female corner we’ve got Rihanna telling everyone how much she likes to be lied to, domestically abused and, er, chained up and whipped. Meanwhile, Taylor Swift is there publicly denouncing every man who has ever had the misfortune to snog her. The general gist? Ladies, you’re going to get hurt. And you probably won’t like it as much as RiRi.
Men, on the other hand, are classified in mainstream music terms as remarkably simple, penis driven creatures. Jay Z requests women everywhere to ‘fuck with me you know I got it’. Pharrell wants to Get Lucky. Robin Thicke is in the business to…by the sounds of things, sexually harass a trio of Eastern European models.
Call me old-fashioned, but this all seems a little skewed. Is it any coincidence that the only way young girls know how to communicate their feelings is to tweet Taylor Swift lyrics? Is it entirely unrelated that, with the rise of ‘Unilad’, a whole community of people feel it is acceptable to make sexist jokes which stereotype as ‘sluts’ or domestic slaves, and trivialise the concept of rape?
With the influence of the music industry, men and women are become increasingly estranged from each other. It makes it impossible to like each other, let alone fall in love. And within this particular battle of the sexes, the dating game becomes all about point-scoring, one night stands and crossed purposes.
Cheating, Beating, And To The G’s They Be The Same Thing
Indiscretion: it happens. It always has, and it always will. There’s no one reason for it. Some couples can move past it, others can’t. I can’t say modernity has had too much of an effect on this.
We do, however, have more reason than ever to fall prey to jealousy. Once a relationship required trust; now we require the constant buzz of an iPhone to reassure us that we’re cared about. We can in theory, at any given time, find out exactly where our partner is, what they’re doing and what’s on their mind. Or so we would be led to think.
Everyone knows the story of Othello, the jealous guy who made a mess. And even if they don’t, they will know the story of their friend Dave who called his girlfriend 42 times in one night because he didn’t believe she was visiting Grandma in Walthamstow. Both of them ended up looking a bit silly.
Jealousy, suspicion and mistrust are all part of the same ‘green-eyed monster…begot upon itself, born upon itself’. If you have reason to be jealous, you will find reasons to be suspicious. And a phone going straight to voicemail or an unanswered message only serve to make us automatically feel worse, if we are feeling insecure already.
If you don’t trust someone who you are seeing, there’s probably an issue there that you need to resolve. But do not make jealousy the centre of your life. Because—and I think Shakespeare really hit the nail on the head here—six months worrying about the insidious threat of cheating is worse than finding out it has happened. Life is short, precious, and not to be consumed by negative thoughts.
In a world where an 18 month lease on a phone is considered a painstakingly long commitment, the idea of committing to someone for life seems a little retrograde.
In this age of newer models, should you really be expected to commit to someone for better and for worse, for richer and for poorer, whether or not one of you does puts on a bit of weight or join Scientology?
C is for cum-mitment. If you haven’t seen Avenue Q, here’s the clip:
‘Cum-mitment’ stands for our disintegrating conceptual understanding of being committed to one another. By using the word play on ‘come’, Avenue Q taps into a skewed modern understanding of commitment, one that endures only as long as a sexual encounter. Yes, it’s funny. But it also reflects generations that don’t know how to stay together in the same way that our grandparents did.
I’m not being a complete idealist. I know that, before changes in the divorce law circa 1923, women in this country had to struggle, trapped in desperately unhappy marriages. I know that some couples are poisonous together, in a way that might never be resolved. But I also think that it is important to give real ‘commitment’ a chance, before getting distracting by the hot prospect of Lover 2.0.
I don’t think All You Need Is Love. Nor do I think that Love Is All Around; I think it is rare, elusive and, by virtue of that, incredibly special. It is very hard to fall in love with someone. If it was easy, it wouldn’t be so revered a concept. It takes a long period of trust, commitment and understanding. So it’s okay to be a little afraid, and it’s okay to hold back before you marry, have kids, or even make it official on Facebook. But maybe, one day, it will all seem worth it.