February Theme: Modern Love

For most of my life, I chased an elusive idea of love. The kind that arrives serendipitously and presents itself with grand gestures. I waited for my modernized white knight to arrive and save me. Save me from what? you may ask. I thought a great love would make everything in life make sense. It would save me from my insecurities, make my problems go away, and bring fullness and joy to my life. In my mind, love was the vehicle to a destination that represented a successful adult: someone who had married and started a family. Love was black and white, with little to no room for interpretation. You either had it or you didn’t.

After my first marriage had fallen apart and I accepted full responsibility for its failure, I took a step back to assess how I found myself so far away from the person I wanted to become.

Love hadn’t saved me; it exposed my deepest insecurities.
Love didn’t make my problems go away; it complicated them.
Love didn’t make me full; it accentuated my emptiness.

Not only did love not save me, it almost destroyed me and many people around me. How did I get it so terribly wrong?

The years that followed were an experiment in all the different ways love came into my life. I learned about love addiction and what healthy relationships looked like. I asked questions and read lots of books. I leaned on my girlfriends for emotional support. I reached out to my family. I made peace with old boyfriends and people I had hurt along the way. I learned how to give romantic love the space and respect it deserves and let go of my love addiction. I learned that love is what fills the space between two people. I learned that romantic love is only one of the many connections we need as humans.

I believe we are in love many times over throughout our lifetime and it is impossible to get everything we need from one person. Love is nuanced, and socially, we tend to overemphasize the importance of our romantic partnerships over our platonic relationships with friends and family.

This month we will explore the different ways love manifests itself. We’ll discuss the commercialization, institutionalization, and socialization of romantic love. We will dive into the importance of same-sex friendships, analyze the stigma around singledom, and navigate the digital dating scene. We will also share stories from same-sex and mixed-race couples, and of course – speak on the importance of self-love.

Illustration: Kate Worum

kate-worum-by-voxland-photo

Kate Worum is an illustrator and designer based in Minneapolis. Her work has a broad range, but she is currently most excited about surface design, in both product and interior design, and also loves editorial illustration.
Find her on Instagram: @kateworum
Illustration by Kate Worum
Photo by Voxland Photo
  • It’s great to see you diving deep into this topic. I don’t think I ever really believed in the knight and shining armor aspect of love. But I do relate to the idea of how there’s a “love story” that we’re all supposed to experience. After understanding that we all don’t experience the same thing early on, I’ve come to accept a lot of things about me and my “relationship” with love.

    And I agree with Mackenzie! This makes me think of NYT’s column and Podcast series Modern Love.

  • I tried explaining to some younger folks (I’m only 28, so only a few, but impressionable, years younger) that your partner shouldn’t be your BEST friend. It bothers me that people think it should be and celebrate it so passionately. Your partner should, IMHO, be a great friend among a list of great friends in your life. Like you’ve said here:

    “I believe we are in love many times over throughout our lifetime and it is impossible to get everything we need from one person. Love is nuanced, and socially, we tend to overemphasize the importance of our romantic partnerships over our platonic relationships with friends and family.”