Love Locked: Are we losing our ability to commit?

Some years ago I started hearing the stories about Love Locks in Paris. With slight envy in my heart, I watched friends bind themselves to one another for eternity on the Ponts Des Arts Bridge, and I blushed, wondering, “Would I ever, someday, find a love so true?”

Fast forward.

2019. Older, wiser, divorced, perhaps a bit more cynical, but still in love with romance, and now my question has switched to: “Do we even know how to love another person completely?” Most Parisians would say, no, we really don’t know the first thing about love.

Love Locks - Taken while I was at Sacre Coeure,,The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, in Paris, France.

Love Locks - Taken while I was at Sacre Coeure,,The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, in Paris, France.

Being from a country where a little more than half of the marriages end in divorce(American here, but my UK & European loves, you’re not far behind!), I’m not sure that we even process how long ‘eternity’ is. Somewhere we learned that extravagant gestures (weddings, jewelry, clothing, a Christmas Lexus with bows on it(that commercial still confuses me), etc. were the goal. Instead of moving into a strong house built on real understanding, time tested strength, commitment, integrity and joy, we settle (and sometimes work for) a beautiful facade. Making matters worse, not many of us were schooled on the ebb and flow of a long term relationship or some of the not so pretty things that can come along with it: emotional breakdowns, losses(financial, family, friends),addictions, sickness etc. I have seen, however, how some of these challenges, when worked through properly, can strengthen a relationship like nothing else.

Based on 2019 statistics by sociologists Cheng-Tony Lir Wang and Evan Schofer, of University of California - Irvine, the more affluent, educated and genderly equal, a country becomes, the more likely they are to depart from their wedded bliss. It would seem that the least bound we are to one another we are for survival the more free we feel to delete a person from our lives if they are not momentarily serving us as we desire.

SO, while, I definitely don’t think that people should stay in a union that is abusive or stifling to their growth(I’m divorced, remember.), I do believe that maybe somewhere behind all those books, dollars and ladypants, we have forgotten how to simply “be” with one another. We’ve traded symbols and momentary gratification for actual connection. Communities that are less fortunate than us in material ways may have a bit more of a forced union, but we tend to completely throw ours away, probably because, in a society of instant gratification, we never really took the time to grow them in the first place.

Clearly, the reverse is also true, there are so many of us staying in dead-end unions, out of fear of the alternatives. Never knowing what it would feel like to truly connect with another soul romantically, because we clutch safe, empty relationships. (If you spend nights annoyed by the simple act of your significant other’s breathing, you may need to reevaluate the situation, for your own good (and the grace and good of all those impacted by your partnership.))

Where do we go from here?

There are so many potential reasons for us not being able to maintain a union in the modern world, but that’s a post for another day.

Perhaps we should consider adding another class to the High School curriculum that explains a few things about relationships.

The top of the list could be that we remember that we’re never going to meet a perfect person. We can, however, meet the person that is perfect for us.

Love is an inside job.

Don’t run at the first sign of a little brokenness, because baby, we are all a little broken(um also, if they are alotta broken, it is also NOT your responsibility to fix them. Moonwalk out of that situation and pray that they get the help they need.)

Take time to nurture a connection, don’t be so quick to jump into happily ever after. In the words of my spiritual auntie, Iyanla Vanzant, if you’re looking for a lifelong union, you’re trying to prepare for a marriage with a person, not a wedding. Get to know who you’re dealing with, don’t be afraid to be vulnerable, it’s the only way that you can both walk into a situation with both eyes open. This will definitely add longevity to your relationship in the future.

Remember, in relationships, it’s not you against them, it’s BOTH of you, against the problem that’s coming up in your relationship.

Even the most beautiful things at some point need a little maintenance. SO don’t be so quick to throw it out and get a new one. You made a life commitment with this person, do your best to honor it.

Long term relationships definitely have their perks, especially in terms of stability and upward mobility. Many successful people have attributed their success to the strength and balance of their partners and the power of their union. Of course, much can be said of the benefits of a happy two-parent household as well.

In the end, if after you’ve done all you can you realize the relationship has run its course, honor those feelings, be honest, open, vulnerable. It’s not just your life you’re wasting here, beloved.

A person’s true love, time and affection should not be an expectation, it’s a blessing. They are giving you a part of the finite time they have on this planet, with open hearted longing. It can’t be forced into forever. Maybe, it will be 40 years, or perhaps 4 months.

Check in with yourself, don’t give up on a relationship too soon, but also make sure you’re not holding on to something that doesn’t fit just because you’re afraid to explore.

I’d say, savor each moment you have with anyone you love, whether it’s at home listening to music, laughing with a cup of coffee , or by throwing the keys to your heart into the River Seine. You will literally, never have another moment quite like that one. <3

Question: What do you think about today’s romantic unions?

What tips would you give to someone trying to find lifelong connection?


Ashley Greenfield