What is love?
I wanted to write about love and loving yourself, particularly for those people who do not have anybody in their lives to celebrate Valentine’s Day with and may feel somehow a bit left out or they feel they are missing out or something is missing in their lives because they don’t have anybody “special” at the moment to share it with.
Our consumer society seems to promote the idea that love exist only in the arena of romantic relationships and has created its very own day to celebrate it: Valentine’s Day.
Below, I explore the ideas we have about love, how we get them and the role music plays in it.
So what is love?
At a deep level everybody wants to be loved. We are after all social beings. We want that close connection with another human being.
Most of us crave love, appreciation and acknowledgment, particularly because we didn’t get it growing up. Most people on this planet are starving for love.
We get our ideas and our experience of love (or lack of) from our parents and as we grow up from extended family, school and friends. We are also constantly exposed to ideas about what love is from movies, advertising, the books we read and music.
Portrayal of love in songs
One song comes to mind
In asking myself what is love a song that popped into my head is What is love? by Haddaway released in 1993.
1993. My early 20s. I remember going to the disco and dancing to the beat. It was one of my favourite songs on the dance floor. I never saw the video. Now that I’ve seen it I think it’s hilarious and made me laugh so much that it really put me in a good mood. In those days, my English was not that great so I only knew the chorus of the song. I still remember it; it is was there somewhere in my brain occupying space in spite of not having listened to it in a long time.
“What is love?” sold 2.6 million worldwide by 1994 and reached the top of the lists in Australia, USA, Canada and different parts of Europe. From 2007 to 2014 several different versions have appeared in the market.
What is love?
Baby don’t hurt me
Don’t hurt me
The lyrics consists mainly of the chorus repeated 14 times. The words “don’t hurt me” are repeated no less than 28 times, so by the end of the song there is no doubt that love hurts and love is painful. The main message “don’t hurt me” is really drilled into your head by the catchy tune. Not only love hurts; another human being can hurt you and is the source of your unhappiness. The singer, a guy, implores her not to hurt him anymore; so we have a female as the cause of his unhappiness. He blames her for his unhappiness.
We learn more of why he’s hurting: His love is not reciprocated “I give you my love but you don’t care”; so she’s “not fair” because she doesn’t care about him. Just maybe you don’t need to give your love to people who don’t love you or care about you.
In reality, it is himself who is the source of his own unhappiness by insisting to stay in a relationship where the other person doesn’t love you. If you loved yourself at all you would be out of that situation as quickly as you can.
She doesn’t love you, full stop.
Nothing you can do about that.
However, he’s leaving matters into her hands, asking for a sign, full of doubt “Oh, I don’t know, what can I do. What else can I say, it’s up to you”
In spite of all of this he declares
“I know we’re one, just me and you…
I want no other, no other lover
This is our life, our time
We are together I need you forever
Is it love?”
He’s clearly delusional. How could you be one? She doesn’t care about you, remember? It is also the idea of people as two halves making one and that the idea that the other person somehow completes you.
“I want no other.” She doesn’t want you.
“We are together.” It doesn’t look like you are.
“I need you forever.” Ah, here it is, neediness. Neediness is not the same as love. I need you is not really a declaration of love but of codependency. The same goes for I want you, which is more a declaration of lust. Forever is a really long time, are you sure you can need someone that long?
He asks: is it love?
No, it isn’t.
The question what is love? is repeated 14 times throughout the song.
To my young 20 year old self this probably gave me the idea that love was this passion, this butterfly feeling in the stomach of liking someone and not being reciprocated. A young girl wants and dreams of finding that person who just want to be with you and loves you no matter what. I think the song is more appealing to the romantic ideas of love young girls and women may have.
The video: one guy and three women
The video not only does not correspond with the lyrics at all but it is diametrically opposite in the message it conveys. In the lyrics the guy’s love is not reciprocated and he wants no other lover. In the video there is one guy (the singer) and three women no less. What happened to “just me and you”?
The video plays with the idea of sex with semi naked women, one with clothes reminiscent of a vampire attire, bodies ondulating to the music, with plenty of overacting and stiff poses. The fire in the fireplace goes up and camera shots to lower parts of the body abound. On the whole, the feeling is unsatisfactory, bodies don’t really make contact and there is a sense of lack.
The women are portrayed with red lips and perfect bodies, not a gram of fat on sight. A young girl is bound to compare herself to these models and feel like she cannot compete with these impossible standards of perfection.
The women are much better looking than the guy. If they don’t seem to find love what chance do we, mere mortals of normality, have?
Ideas about love
This is just one song. However, I think it is quite representative of a type of love portrayed in music, movies and books:
- The idea that love is mainly romantic love, they fell in love and lived happily ever after.
- Falling in love is often played as this tango between a man and a woman, of now I love you, now I hate you type of thing but in the end things just work out.
- The idea of the couple made out of two halves is quite prevalent.
- There is also the idea that I want you but you don’t want me: Unrequited love, love not fulfilled, unsatisfactory somehow and frustrated desires. Everybody is looking for love but nobody is getting any.
They say love but what they really mean is sex. As I write these words a song comes to mind: I can’t get no satisfaction but I try, but I try… But I try I can get no Satisfaction.
This is because love doesn’t really sell music, movies, books or anything else: fear does.
What you hear and what you see has an influence on you
Our brains works with words and images.
What we hear, listen to, see and watch has an impact in our brains. It also has the power to direct our thinking in a certain direction and to fill our brains with images and words that were not previously there.
We learn by repetition Click To Tweet
We learn by repetition. Having these messages constantly repeated has the effect that we begin to accept them as truths.
Those messages are normally playing in the background of our lives, and we don’t pay much attention to them. We listen to them when we are trying to relax and unwind. Music adds a new dimension to these messages because music has the power to evoke heightened emotions.
Part of learning to love yourself is to have a look at the messages and the ideas you have been exposed to and you may have about love, relationships, how they work or not work and the dynamics between men and women.
What are your ideas about love and where did you get them from? What is your favourite love song and why? Examine the lyrics and see what it says. What are the messages it conveys?
I would love to know what your favourite song is and why. If you would love to tell me comment below.