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“I wouldn’t mind falling in love. It just all seems like fiction to me.”

Is one of my favourite lines in film. Spoken by Maria Bello in The Jane Austen Book Club.

In my younger years I believed that line solidly. I thought I’d been deeply and sincerely in love during high school, but having seen more of the world I was naturally more dissatisfied with it.

I realised I didn’t know what love was. I thought love was feeling something so all-consuming that adoration for that person blinded you utterly. Yet now I’m not so sure.

Personally I don’t dream about epic love anymore. I don’t like to indulge in fantasies of a love which crosses oceans and drives the two of us to insanity.

I think if there is such a thing as true love in this world, it couldn’t possibly sustain itself the way Hollywood would have us believe. I certainly don’t have the energy to maintain that depth of feeling and effort with someone. But it seems, as I look around me today, that more and more people won’t settle for anything less.

I don’t think love is declaring that you’ll die for someone, or giving in to despair at the prospect of living without them. I think love is a much quieter, purer and simpler thing. Or that’s my take on it.

The love I dream of, if it exists, is one other person who stands (and sleeps) by my side for the rest of my life. Not someone who consumes my soul and sets me on fire, but someone who I know in the most fundamentally unspoken way will be there for me. As I will be there for him.

Sometimes I wonder if love exits in that form. Surely, in this world, not everyone who marries does so for love. Lord knows, there are any number of other factors, which it is ridiculous to ignore.

Perhaps the term “life partner” is a more accurate one in that case.

When I think about love, that true and deep love which manifests itself as a fundamental level of comfort, and which could sustain a partnership for 50+ years, it seems a thing almost too much to hope for. The idea that there could be someone out there willing to endure and accept all my faults, defects and flaws, and who would still want to stay true to me despite them (and they are numerous) seems nothing short of an impossible fantasy.

In this day and age where opportunities are scare, time is limited and the world catapults itself towards an unknown future, is love the only thing left worth fighting for? Or is it a falsehood sold to us as children to spin that fantasy through our younger years until we pay the price, in whatever form that will be – loveless marriage, spinsterhood, social pariahism – once we reach emotional maturity?

Love seems all at once a gift too wonderful to contemplate, and a myth as grand as a mermaid selling her voice to become human.

And yet as primarily visual creatures, so much of the time we seem to miss what is right in front of our noses. From what I’ve seen in 25 years on this earth, I think we fall in love with love rather just as often as the person who is standing before us.

As the old song says, falling in love with love is falling for make believe.

Which is, surely, the same as buying into a fiction?

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