Do you ever think about what love looks like to you? Is the idea cliche and old-spirited, or does it make you feel a little lighter? We all know what love is, but the concept of love and what that looks like is dependent on the society it’s found in. There are some universal constants, like the encapsulating way it can make us feel, but how we understand love is incredibly subjective. With the role of technology taking center stage in our lives, this too is shifting how we see and understand this complex emotion. As the rules of love change, so do we. This guide aims to look at the different ways love has begun to adapt to modern-day, and what that could mean for us.
We have a fascination with love- it’s why we have so many shows about dating and finding the perfect match. On the flip side however, we are also rather cynical about whether love can stand the test of time.. . It’s like there are two sides to us- the side that is hopeful and curious, and the side that believes romantic love can be hard to maintain. Connection is the most human thing of all; we are social creatures at our core, and we all want to find a reliable and meaningful. The question is, how do we get there?
Online Data and the Algorithms
Studies suggest there is a method- a recipe we can follow to create love. The idea that there is a shortcut to love made this study blow up in the public sphere when it was published- who wouldn’t choose to fast-track 30 failed talking stages and put love to the test? This is the most extreme version of speed dating, but even those who were involved in this study state that falling in love is the easy part- it’s the choice that follows- the constant choosing to fall in love that is what sustains a relationship.
There are a thousand and one ways we try to pinpoint our exact match- apps like Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge cut out the steps where we figure out if someone is looking for a relationship, and instead, make these first steps way more accessible. Having more choices means we can decide if we like the look of someone with the swipe of a finger, which can make the process feel like a game. We can avoid the awkward meetups and make a choice in a few seconds through these streamlined formulas designed to find exactly what you’re looking for. Hinge’s site states that it runs on a Nobel prize-winning algorithm with the tagline “getting dating down to a science”.
As you can imagine, it’s also a little more complicated than the algorithms would suggest. Being matched because you have shared interests and hobbies isn’t always enough to guarantee an attraction to one another, and being attracted to someone doesn’t necessarily mean those feelings will be reciprocated. Plus the big one- basing your attraction off looks alone doesn’t work for everyone and doesn’t guarantee that sparks will fly when you meet in person.
“The god of love lives in a state of need” - Plato
Love is in the reptilian part of the brain that is centered on focus, reward, and craving. Part of the brain is more active when you are likely to risk it all for that one person. It’s a drive that incites us with endorphins and makes us feel giddy with all the possibilities. This is why we often find the initial stages thrilling.
We see many different messages in media about what love should look like- that love is pain, that it makes you act like a completely different person. But at the same time, it’s the most important thing in the world and is a feeling that nothing else can compare to. With all the different messages about what love actually is, it can be hard to make informed decisions when starting a relationship. The way media displays love is incredibly unrealistic because it simplifies it down into an easily watchable package for everyone. Love isn’t always easy and it isn't always light and fun like media tells us. Because of this, many people may begin to question their relationships when they experience those less-than-perfect moments.
With the greater selection that dating apps give us, for many people it brings with it the worry that they almost have too much selection- that we might give one person less consideration than we usually would because there is no immediate need to make a choice. Settling down is less of an immediate concern than it once was, meaning there is more freedom to explore multiple avenues. Of course this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it opens many doors for those of us looking to find love faster.
Intimacy Is Changing Shape
Technology and its role in our lives has also crossed over into our romantic and personal lives, which has added even more social rules to an already complicated dance. Online dating is a pretty clear example of how we combine these ideas- we have far more reach than we ever had before, and can be introduced to people we otherwise never would’ve met. This is a pretty amazing change and has steadily become one of the primary ways we try to find love.
Love is completely subjective, there are a million different languages and forms that love can take and a million more ways we can respond. One of the biggest takeaways I have learned looking into this topic is that no one really has a definitive answer about what love is, but what we know really well is the profound effect it has on our minds. It is synonymous with pain, but the pain is completely worth it. It’s one of the strongest feelings humans are capable of and influences us even when a relationship is long since over. Even when love is presented as a form of entertainment on our screens we find it fascinating, and when we search for it endlessly on our phones we keep ourselves connected regardless of the result. To concentrate all this down into an algorithm is both a thrilling and frightening prospect all at once, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.
So, to conclude. What is the formula of love? There really isn’t one; despite technology making it easier for us to connect with people, this doesn’t automatically give us a fast track to love in itself. The truth is, no piece of technology could ever come close to mimicking the strength of love or solving its intricacies.