Love is all around us

by Dale Sproule

Love is an overused word in English.

People use it to describe everything from “love of certain foods” to “making love”.
When it refers to food or money, “love” usually means “I like it very, very much”.

When people talk about being loved, they’re saying they want to be liked by as many people as possible. Sure, there are a few people who would rather be respected or feared or even ignored, but most of us want to be loved.

Being loved by a large number of people usually requires a huge amount of talent, beauty or devotion to a cause. With the power of their beliefs, people like Gandhi, Mother Teresa or Martin Luther King helped to make a better world. Well-loved actors, musicians and sports figures are usually both talented and beautiful.

We love them all. That is to say we admire, respect, lust after and sometimes even worship our modern heroes.

But most of us are happy to settle for the love of our parents, husbands, wives and children.

Parental Love: A Two Way Street

Most of us continue to love our parents after we’ve grown up, or learn to love them again after a short period of teenage rebellion. After all, they looked after us and nurtured us in our childhoods, and we feel a bond of affection – or at least an obligation to return the favour – that leads us to care for our parents when they grow old or fall ill.

Ideally, our children will feel the same way towards us. Family is important in almost every culture, and your immigration to Canada changed the basic way your family interacts with one another. The process of reunification (getting back together) can be very slow or may not happen at all, but many people continue to support their family (mostly their parents) from their adopted homeland.

Love of Things

Many people have a deep and lasting love of their homes, their countries, their favourite activities and their pets. This sort of love is often based on devotion or appreciation. Our love of pets can sometimes be as strong as our love for people – because some regard them as their own helpless children. Pets are the only non-human objects of our affection that can actually love us back, so the devotion of pet-lovers is quite understandable even to those of us who have no real desire for furry friends.

Romantic Love

In some cultures and periods of history, marriage is an unbreakable contract. We must stay with and be faithful to our partners whether we love them or not. In other cultures and times, it is common to have more than one loving relationship. The article “Till death do us part?

The risk of first and second marriage dissolution” by Warren Clark and Susan Crompton (available in Social Trends Magazine on the Stats Canada website) suggests that Canadian Anglophones (people with English as their first language) are much more likely to divorce (with a divorce rate of over 33 percent) than immigrants whose first language is neither English nor French. Your chances of divorce go down even more if you have a post-secondary education, if you’re religious or if you were married after the age of 30.

But even if your marriage is as solid as a rock, the same is not true of many people in the workplace, which is filled with single people. 20 percent of Canadians remain unmarried for their entire lives, over 25 percent have been through divorce, a surprisingly large percentage have affairs and a good percentage are young and simply haven’t married yet.

Confusing Love with Sex

Sex is usually a part of romantic love. The sex act is not called “making love” for nothing, although what may seem like love at a certain moment often turns out to be nothing more than mutual lust or desire.

Often sex is part of the process of searching for love, even in cultures where this is formally frowned upon.

In 2006, Maclean’s magazine reported on a survey that said 77 percent of Canadians between18 and 34 accept the idea of premarital sex, while more than two˗ thirds of young people approve of homosexuality, although only 12 percent approve of adultery (which is often a response to a lack of love within a marriage). The article made it clear that there is a difference between what we approve of and what we accept – just because we may tolerate something does not mean that we like it.

As liberal-minded as Canada is, people are still often judged on their sexual behaviour.

Someone can have a reputation for being “easy” or being “a player” – both of which suggest that you are very quick to have sex. Perhaps the major difference is that our sexual history is often more easily forgiven here than it is in many countries. While we may never approve of the behaviour of certain friends or family members, Canadians often can “accept” that behaviour in someone we otherwise care about.

But even when we find our perfect love match, for most of us, that feeling of intense romantic love is fleeting. It doesn’t last forever. It’s almost impossible to feel the same passion for your partner throughout an entire lifetime, although many people develop a bond of fondness and respect that can stay strong even after the passion goes away. But this sort of lasting relationship requires patience, understanding, forgiveness, and sometimes, hard work. Needing the attention or physical or financial support of our partners is a certain kind of love, although “need” and “love” are quite different states.

The search for love in Canada may be different than it is in your country of origin, but in the end, we’re all reaching for the same thing. Congratulations to all the people who’ve found true love and good luck to everyone who hasn’t yet reached that goal.

CNM