A Culture of Love

Laila Palmer, ‘22

February. That special month where department stores are stuffed to the brim with heart shaped, well, everything, cheap chocolate, and cards with even cheaper words printed on them to remind you how loved you are in as clichéd a way as humanly possible. In honor of this special time, it seems fitting to talk about relationships.

Relationships are deeply interwoven into our society in a lot of ways, but, maybe most often as a sign of success. At the end of most movies, the hero ends up with either their sidekick or damsel, even if the relationship isn’t at all necessary. For some reason, media interprets a love interest to be vital to the perfect happy ending. Disney, a fundamental part of most people’s childhoods, is one extremely prevalent example of this trend. Just look at the classics, from the very beginning: Snow White, the first disney princess, had Prince Charming. Cinderella, who came sometime later, had Prince Charming. Then, there’s Aurora, or Sleeping Beauty, who also has...Prince Charming? Noticing the pattern? I will acknowledge that these characters were given official names, but they are not referred to once by name in their respective movies. They are not independent characters with goals or development, just accessories to the main characters. They exist for the purpose of loving the title character. Most of them get less screen time than the comic relief background characters. In Snow White’s movie, for instance, the dwarves are given more screen time than the love of our heroine’s life. In Cinderella, the same is true for the mice, and in Sleeping Beauty, it’s true for the fairies.

Now, obviously, this doesn’t seem to be important necessarily; what’s the harm in telling the world that loving relationships are key to being happy? Aren’t strong, supportive, and affectionate relationships good for us? Well yes, but these shouldn’t have to be romantic ones. Convincing the masses that a relationship is necessary could convince someone who doesn’t want a relationship at the moment, or isn’t ready for one, that there is something wrong with them. People may be pushed to jump into a relationship because they feel that is what is supposed to be normal and healthy, whether or not they are ready for that kind of commitment. Both parties involved in such a relationship could easily be hurt, due to the fact that they could not want different thing me out of it, and have conflicting interests. Familial love and platonic love can be more helpful and supportive than romantic love, because it is not based in some sort of attraction, but a pure wish for you to succeed and be happy. It’s definitely better for you than a relationship birthed from the compulsory need to be what the world thinks is healthy. Not to say that a romantic relationship can’t be healthy and happy, but maybe we shouldn’t put it down as the only kind of love that can make us happy.