Ben Philpott, our Perspective Editor, talks of the problem of modern love, explaining that there is nothing wrong with being the person that refuses to have sex on the first date and waits for the one that asks about their life before trying to get in their pants.


 

The infamous one-night stand, many of us have been there; many of us have not. Whether we are ‘that kind of person’ or not, a lot of us have, by now, been in the position where we have had one too many drinks (or ten too many), decided that the guy or girl we would never usually look twice at is actually a ‘really nice person’ and is ‘so incredibly hot’, taken said person back (or worse, gone back with them) – and then faced the daunting prospect of telling that person to leave in the morning, or stumbling home – mind fixed on whatever is being used to cure the hangover from Hell (Domino’s, McDonalds, KFC and crepes are among my personal favourites – my diet is one of those things I have been, am and will probably still be working on when I am 90).

Modern love, in my mind, is not really about love, but the death of love – it refers to a culture of casual sex, hook-ups, one night stands and our growing objectification of one another. When I think of ‘love’ however, I think of a world of romance, intimacy and deep emotional connections – the type of connection that seems to be growing rarer and rarer as people hide behind technology and the idea of ‘sexual liberation’.

Texting has changed relationships between people. In real life, very few men would walk up to you and hand you a picture of their penis. Yet on their phones, many feel confident enough to do that. Even those with mutant penises. Instead of over-thinking that comment they (the guy not the penis) made the other day and wondering if it means anything, we are now wondering if ‘it is’ normally that size, or if they are just in a cold room.

There is no emotion, and there is no respect.

And of course, the idea of ‘sexual liberation’ – the philosophy that teaches ‘who needs one when you can have one a night?’ Sex feels good, and ‘love’ is hard, therefore maybe it is best to just stick to the former.

But how did we get here? We have replaced songs like ‘I Will Always Love You’ with songs like ‘Cake by the Ocean’ (not that I do not adore that song), terms like ‘high school / University sweethearts’ have been replaced with ‘friend with benefits’, ‘the girl from last night’ – yet despite all of our protestations to the contrary, I do believe (perhaps naively, perhaps idealistically) that most of us still believe in falling in love.

Does anyone in their right mind really feel that their heart is satisfied going out and ‘pulling’ someone whose names they will probably forget within a month, a week, the same night? Or when they are scrolling and swiping mindlessly on dating apps like Tinder occasionally having mundane conversations with less-than-interesting people? Do not get me wrong, needles are sometimes found in haystacks – people do find love in modern ways – that one-night-two-night-three-night-we-should-probably-go-on-a-date girl, or the guy on Tinder that actually turns out pretty cool. However, this seems to be the exception rather than the rule. Google ‘Swansea one night stand capital’ and you will find a nice introduction to my home city. According to The Mirror, one in five adults in Swansea had a one night stand over Christmas. Got to love the festive period.

Do not get me wrong, I am all for sexual freedom – as far as I am concerned you can be sexually free with as many other sexually free people as you want and live in an exciting world of sexually free loneliness, calling it empowerment. And of course to some it is empowering, I am not trying to slate the choices people make. Advocates of sexual freedom will say ‘hell yeah, sex is fun, I am not going to limit myself – I want to enjoy myself while I am young’ and ‘no I do not feel used, I am using them too.’ These are fair enough points and I am not trying to judge anyone who feels that way (which is rare for me, though I strive to be a non-judgemental person I do have occasional lapses).

What I do have to wonder though is: when the dust settles, and you have slept with more people than you can remember, when you are 25-30 years old and you cannot think of a time that you have ever felt ‘in love’ – is it still fun? I would not call it ‘fun’ for the one in five in Swansea who spent Christmas Eve in a stranger’s bed. Nor would I say it is fun when you finally get into a relationship only to realise you do not actually know how to be in one.

Love seems to be going the way of most things in our ‘modern world’: we have turned it into a commodity, and we want instant gratification. People want hook ups over dates, we have gone from virginity being celebrated to people feeling ashamed of it, we do not care about people’s personalities, I think Christina Aguilera summed up the growing attitude of today, the attitude that says ‘all I wanna do is love (note: explicit version is better) your body (whoah, ooooh ooh etc).kissing-couple-1148914_1920

Why is this? Why do we not care about people’s personalities anymore? Maybe it is because from the outside, many people are viewed as one of many. If you are from a city, or a large town, you have probably seen it on nights out. Guys and girls cover themselves in various shades of orange (still waiting for that one DJ that has the sense of humour to play the Oompa Loompa song in a nightclub), they have identical haircuts, makeup, air-bed-reminiscent muscles… Hell, even their personalities are similar. If you have met one ‘lad’ you have met them all, one ‘fake girl’ – you have seen them all. These guys and girls have all been shot from the same 2k16 Cannon and worryingly it is shooting them out younger and younger. The generation of shy 12 year olds with bad haircuts, braces and ugly clothing is gone – replaced by a generation of social media obsessed Kardashian wannabes with personalities as shallow as the world they are growing up in.

This, combined with dating apps and social media makes dating an entirely different game to what it used to be. Nowadays, if someone likes somebody that is not quite ‘putting out’, they will find one that will. If a relationship fails, why waste time trying to win them back when you can find a carbon copy somewhere online or in a nightclub?

We are living in a world where ‘modern love’ is killing love. Sexual freedom, social media, dating apps, mean nothing if we lose our self-respect along the way.

Warning: this is where I may sound a wee bit preachy, if I have not already.

So by all means, go out and have fun, have the odd one-night stand, become friends with benefits with someone else but remember you are a person as much as anyone else and we all deserve to love, and to be loved. There is nothing wrong with being the person that refuses to have sex on the first date, the one who does not want to go home with the person they just met – exchange numbers instead. Sex may not be sacred anymore but love is – if you want to experience the late night romantic walks, the nights in with movies, pizza and that special someone, even the heartbreak when it all ends (because despite how horrible it feels, it does change you and make you grow) – then try saying ‘no’ to the people that barely know your name, and try waiting for the one that asks about your life, and your feelings, before they try to get in your pants.

 

Ben Philpott