I was asked by a reader why 60% of all relationships in America fail.
The Inuit have 15 root words and at least 24 names for snow. They describe the many properties of snow in all its stages. We have one word for Love. Sex, desire, or romance are not love or even states of love. Friendship is a form of love, charity is a form of love, the parent/child bond is a form of love… but there are infinitely more.
Why is this important? Because I see too many people go into, maintain and perpetuate crappy relationships. One reason is that we have so few ways to speak of or understand love.
People in America seem to have one idea of love and they try to force everything to fit that mold. When their lives don’t reflect their ideal of love, they splinter their denial into health issues, behavioral issues, domestic conflict, and all forms of blame and chaos. If people had names for the many forms of love, they would be able to help each other without forcing misplaced relationships. It would be possible to have a friend of the opposite sex without sleeping with them. We could perhaps understand that how we feel about our partners will change over time. People break up when they “fall out of love” because they don’t understand that love evolves as experience grows.
All people in all types of relationships will “fall out of” whatever it was that initiated the relationship in the first place.
Wise love takes a lifetime together to develop, as it is an accumulation of many forms over time. Friendship, hate, disappointment, acceptance, awe, affirmation, and respect are all facets and faces of love.
Wise love can never exist without active communication and negotiation. One sided love is a fantasy… and often, just stupidity.
If you have a firm picture of what something should be than you never look at what it really is. Love is active and changing, like water to snow to ice to vapor; it is all still water. If you have one name for love odds are you will end up alone.
Dr. Brilliant Cliché
Granny Doctor adds- The Inuit have so many different ways to describe snow because they need to be that specific about it’s characteristics in order to stay alive. If we thought love was as intrinsic to our own survival, we would be far more specific. Just look at how many different names there are for Starbucks coffee.
But here’s something to consider: according to national mortality data in England and Wales, divorced men in their 60’s have a 70 percent higher death rate than their married counterparts. Although the death rate isn’t quite as high for women, single women of every age still have higher death rates than married women at every age. And Harvard University sociologists have noted that men are 22 percent (and women 17 percent) more likely to die after the death of a spouse. Love may be more intrinsic to our survival than we know.
I don’t think most people have any idea what love is. They know what love is in the movies. But in the movies the writers leave a lot out. They leave out the years that come after the honeymoon. They leave out going to the bathroom and taking out the garbage. They leave out mood swings, and buried childhood issues and they sure as hell leave out the cellulite and the stretch marks.
We are not taught about love in school. We get sex education, but not love education. We confuse passion and infatuation for love because no one ever sold a newspaper with sensational stories about commitment and caring. We take the word love and use it to sell cars and condoms.
As Dr. Brilliant often says, we can only know what we know.
Who is teaching any of us what love is?