TED Conversations

Tibor V. Varga

PhD student, Lund University

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Love is overrated

You will never find your true love, there is no perfect relationship.
Or is there?
Isn't love overrated? Shouldn't we aim for other types of relationships (eg. open relationships, not monogamous relationships, communes)?

Topics: love
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    Sep 22 2012: I think Love (in a relationship) is what you make it and it all comes down to perspective. If when you look at your partner and think of the positive things - positive things will happen to you and your relationship. If when you look at your partner and think of the negative things - negative things will happen to you and your relationship. Perfection is the good + the bad. The balance is needed. It just comes down to keeping the balance and not letting the bad override the good.
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    Sep 22 2012: Love is underrated. Its not a relationship but the basis of human connection. Our traditional understanding of love is limited and its depiction in literature, social and inter personal communications and its different shades are not fully explored.
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    Sep 29 2012: In my point of view, the older people become, the more they are disappointed in love (and not only in love..in people, in friendship and in life generally). When we are young, we don´t know a lot about life. Everything seems to be interesting, good and you want believe in good things. So mb because of my youth and brief experience of life I believe in love. I believe that you can love somebody strange (including homosexuals). Of course love is not ideal. But it is amazing how love can change us, our thoughts, feelings, actions etc. Somebody feels so happy, somebody gives way to despair. Everything depends on how strong feelings are, how mutual love is. It is really hard to decide is love overrated or not. I think people, who are very happy in love they overrate it, people who are unhappy vice-versa (underestimate it). There is no middle sight. You have everything or you have nothing (often broken heart).

    I want to believe that love exits. Then, why we feel so depressed, sad and bad when we lose people, who we took care about, who we like and with whom we want to be? I guess the reason is love..we love each other inspite of age, weigh, sex etc.

    As concerns not monogamous relationships, I dispute it. Although, there are a lot of people, who like it or have reasons for it. People are different, if they allow each other to be "free", so it is their own business and decision. But when people, who are in couple or already in marriage (which was built on love) start to betray each other - is unacceptible, mean and disgusting.

    In conclusion I would like to say inspite of all unhappiness, bad love experiences is better to move on and keep belief in love, than assert that love is overrated, become self-contained and push away other people. It is easier to live, if you have belief and hope to find real love.
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      Sep 30 2012: I think you will find as you get older that getting older does not make you more disappointed in love and friendship. Once you are in the last third of your life, you may well have a chance to marvel at loves and friemdships that have lasted forty and fifty years (and are still going strong). You will see how you feel every day to see your children or hear their voices on the phone, You will have seen your parents in their old age look at you and see that behind their eyes, a film runs of you from your first cry, to your first steps, to your helping them walk up your stairs...

      Young people can easily guess wrong about what is going on in the heads and hearts of older people.
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        Sep 30 2012: Yes, I fully agree that these people, who found real friends and love, which one has been lasting for 20-30 years are happy and able to love. But also there are people who were divorsed early in life and didn´t raise a family. With age it is hard to find someone for them, because once they already had bad experience and now afraid to trust people. They are more attentive. I meant this situation.
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    Sep 22 2012: The greatest thing you can ever learn is just to love and be loved in return......... I would suggest that you need to look inward and love yourself first before you can love another. I am certainly not talking about pride or ego. If you find peace inside you, you will fine love there as well.
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    Sep 22 2012: Maybe it’s old-fashioned, maybe it’s connected with customs in my country, but I believe in true love. Of course is no perfect relationships and it’s good (in my opinion sth perfect=sth boring), you have to learn sth from your girlfriend/boyfriend and she/he has to learn sth from you. And you have to trust. If love is overrated? Commercial love from TV- yes and it’s annoying. Real love from real life-no.
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    Sep 22 2012: With your comment about communes I'm assuming you mean love in a carnal, monogomous sense. The relationship and courtship of love.

    I am a monogomist. I believe in monogomy so much I've done it three times (more if you don't count the church and the paper) you might call me a serial monogamist. It's great, it's wonderful. I've screwed it up more times than I can count, but I think I finally got it right. Or at least that's what my wife tells me.

    So, while I am not the best example of a continually successful monogomous relationship, I will always defend it as the ultimate expression of the completeness of the human being. There is so much of us that is only half, and two people coming together, in spiritual as well as a carnal sense, is the greatest, the ultimate, expression of how we are only complete when we finally subsume ourselves into a greater whole. It demonstrates that we are not complete on our own, but in one other, we can be a greater "together."

    While open relationships or communes are wonderful ideas, especially when people can compartmentalise their living relationships, and when a greater sense of communal love permeates those collectives - basically, when everyone understands their own set boundaries enough not to get their feelings hurt - then yes, they can work for a time. To me, the main purpose is to love each other, to be kind and giving to each other, to help each other through this life.

    In fact, I've even seen some communes - open relationships like this - work. For awhile. Just like marriages.

    However, I will always state that a loving, monogomous relationship is the ultimate demonstration of two human beings reflecting the varied aspects of the creator God, and is the perfect example of two humans giving up a life centered around self for a life centered around a unit.

    But that's just my opinion.

    And lastly . . . LOVE - can never be overrated!
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    Sep 22 2012: I found this few days ago, that is what actually triggered this debate:
    http://www.dailydawdle.com/2011/04/insight-parallel-lines-they-never-meet.html

    I think it is fairly impossible to find Prince Charming/Princess Charming who is 100% for you and vice versa. Although I strongly believe that these persons exist somewhere in the world. Who are just... perfect (for you).

    If we accept this as a fundamental truth, and we still want to have relationships, then we' ll have to make compromises. If you are young/immature, then you are less willing to do that, if you grow and mature, you accept this more and more. And frankly, we need relationships and maybe it wouldn't be that good at all without these compromises, annoyances and frustrations.
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      Sep 22 2012: It's because these people don't exist. The perfect person for anybody does not exist. What you are to do is to find the person with whom you grow into the perfect couple. Two people, growing together, changing to become that Prince/Princess Charming.

      That takes time, commitment, honesty, and a devotion to each other and the goal of creating that type of relationship.
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        Sep 23 2012: many things do not exist like what we think .sometimes we should change our solution .to search

        sometime new. long we do one thing we may be locked .changing brings change.
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          Sep 24 2012: I know this well. The search is the key, and it takes a lifetime to learn how to search well. Once I learned how to search, that's when I realised my perfect peace had been with me all the time.

          And also, when my soul mate and I had both found and created each other.

          This is why it is so important to tell everyone always to keep searching, exploring, with an open heart and mind.

          "Changing brings change" - so well said, thank you!
  • Sep 22 2012: Including the affection of parents for a child...? I don't think so.
    I haven't found my true love yet(and I don’t believe there’s a charming prince waiting for me lol), but I don't think love is in itself overrated.
    Even if all relationships aren't perfect, where there's love, there's a hope, I believe.

    Well, maybe romance we all talk about isn't all about love.
    I'm not really fond of romance--and sometimes the cliché --"I'm falling in love with you"-- sounds a bit silly and superficial especially when gf &bf break up with each other so easily and quickly.
    The romantic atmosphere from movies and dramas could be a little too overrated, if you ask me.

    Nonetheless, love is in itself perfect.
    The things that are overrated are fake ones--usually meant for nothing, but attracting someone.

    We need to differentiate between true relationships and shallow relationships.
    In that way we might be able to get a hint of how we can love one another more truly.

    Good question, btw
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    Oct 3 2012: Love is the spiritual part of SYMBIOSIS.
    It consists of:
    (a) Primary symbiosis: ---- Marriage, parenting,...
    (b) Secondary symbiosis ---- Friendship, classmates, society, ....
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    Sep 30 2012: Love, by itself, might indeed be overrated, but that is because I believe love can do nothing without wisdom. There is a 'system' to this that influences, or even controls this whole universe. We can say we love something or someone but the less we know about it or about the person, the more meaningless that love is.

    Swedenborg's definition of love is
    "The essence of love is loving others outside of oneself, wishing to be one with them and devoting oneself to their happiness."

    Another one I like is "love is the life of man[kind]" and that is said because we do not move one single muscle without a love being the motivator. In fact, this last quote is the title of the first chapter in this book about love and wisdom:
    http://webhome.idirect.com/~abraam/documents/DLW.pdf

    What might even be more applicable in this discussion is his book on marriage love.
    http://webhome.idirect.com/~abraam/documents/CL.pdf
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    Sep 29 2012: actually i dont learn about gaga a lot ..i just want to lisen her songs

    why not an america girl ? just have a different experience .
  • Sep 28 2012: Problems arise when we attempt to shoehorn our own intuitive responses into societal "norms". I think the substance of love is more often poorly defined than overrated. We "should" do that which we feel is the most personally beneficial within the constraints of our personally defined code of morals and ethics. I think enlightened selfishness is more conducive to sustaining love than misguided altruism.
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    Sep 28 2012: you still like gaga now, even with the extra padding? but, yeah, gaga is awesome for her open beliefs and compassion.

    i think in a former life I was asian. i've always been attracted to asians so I dated a vietnamese girl in my earlier days.

    my chinese wife, however, is very open-minded, and that's what I love about her most. maybe that's a little ironic in context of your response.
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    . . 100+

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    Sep 28 2012: love is.

    We are the ones who RATE it (subjectively)
  • Sep 27 2012: "Shouldn't we aim for other types of relationships (eg. open relationships, not monogamous relationships, communes)?"

    Well, at least in the western world you can have open relationships, non monogamous relationships, communes and whatever else of that kind-and, surprise, the great majority of people does not want to live like that. Nobody forces them to look for monogamous, closed relationsships, but the most people favor them.

    As every person has a personal view on what "true love" means to them, you could not say they will never find it. Also, there is numerous people who say they have found that, so it seems to be possible...
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    Sep 27 2012: Love is a thing for poets and bookwriters to sing about.

    I started with a friend I could relate to, talk to, be comfortable with. Over time and further commitments we have developed a lasting relationship.

    The term love brings with it baggage and expectations that are always looming over the relationship.

    Seek a friend, a confidant, and I wish that you will know the happiness I experience.

    All the best. Bob.
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    Sep 27 2012: It is overrated in the sense that we spend our lives looking for love 'out there'....not just overrated, but it's an illusion; we are essentially seeking someone out there to love us to make us feel better about ourselves, when that love is within us all the time.
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      Sep 27 2012: love will always be there
      renently many people say that there isnt ture love now .they just complain and complain .i dont think so .why not .why dont you use your heart to find ,why dont you to love someone by heart .they just caomplain .it is useless.if you dont try ,you will never find you ture love .
      so go ahead .you will find .at least my ture is always be that!
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        Sep 27 2012: define for me what this 'true love' looks like for you....thanks!
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        Sep 27 2012: You are right. At first I hate when people only complain.Everything is possible, but it required your work. But I also think that for true love you have to feel mature (maybe it's quite subjective,sorry, it's just my own experience ;) )
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        Sep 27 2012: That's the spirit Chen,never stop trying,the best that anyone can do is if actively searching is look for the qualities that you lack within yourself and if she has them then she is the one,this can be the opposite with the image of the perfect woman that you might have within yourself as we can fool ourselves into thinking that the person we want has to be perfect in every way but in reality it's their imperfection and the fact they will view you as having qualities that they lack that will make them see you as their perfect man.we are searching to be completed,made whole.

        Adam and Eve
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          Sep 28 2012: Juliette spero che non sei sola con il sole e sei sola con il tuo amore sotto la luna del tuo cuore piena di amore :)
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        Sep 27 2012: You really find the true love when you do not think or have any conscious intention to do it. Is like you let yourself guided by an interiour feeling on the waves of love to your perfect soul mate. In this way God help you and guide you to reach that person and gives you chances and chances to be together. Just to not lose all the chances you have. God help you all lonely hearts. :)
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      Sep 28 2012: i think many of you has been confused by the love from tv ,movies etc.while ture love it not like that


      from that you have a higher hope .you think love should be that .while you know it is not real.at least it does not happen in your life .so you suffer you hurt.

      change it .less movies more actions...i think you will find your ture love
      i dont think i am a perfect man also maybe isn't mature enough .but i strive to adapt to my friends .and i get very well with my friends,boys and girl .i think this will make me more mature and perfect !
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        Sep 28 2012: You have all the time in the world to eagerly find out,(sigh) Ah memories

        Good Journey young warrior
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        Sep 28 2012: fortunately, for myself I have found my life partner, my wife -- she's chinese, too, so do I owe you one? :) -- and it is not my first go-around in this realm either...so I'm familiar with seeking a 'true love'...I would not settle for what love I found to not be authentic enough and so I have gotten divorced once as well.

        "while you know it is not real.at least it does not happen in your life .so you suffer you hurt"........I do agree with your comment here in how it relates to how we spend our energy/thoughts on things and thus receive or do not receive outcomes related to these energies/thoughts.

        My previous point was that if we spend our lives seeking love outside of ourselves we are missing the very thing we are seeking. If we look within, love within, then love outside will come into our lives accordingly as we love ourselves enough to receive that 'true love' from out there. If we always look for external love we will never be satisfied, even when we think we have found our soul-mate, we will continue to pursue conditional love.
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          Sep 28 2012: first i will clean up that i have not gotten divorced ever .and i have never been married ..
          actually i dont like american girl .. they are too open . while i like laddy gaga very much ...i dont know why
          i want to know how do yo like chinese girl since you have a chinese wife ?
          and i totualy agree with you we all should love within
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    Sep 26 2012: Depends what you mean by love. If you strictly construe love as an emotion, then sure. I'll suggest that that's an incomplete characterization of love.
  • Sep 23 2012: is not! Can't think of anything that feels better than love and causes better human behavior than love.
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    Sep 23 2012: Up to you whether you want to have an open relationship etc.

    Ideally with partners who are willing and supportive of this approach, not accepting because they feel they have no choice.

    I believe we are evolved animals. Our sexual drive is powerful. Also we have reason. Now love is in part a natural drive in terms of attraction, or wanting to feel loved etc. But the deeper aspect of love is choosing not to hurt another person. Choosing to consider their needs, to try make their life happy too.

    Love is also about sacrifice and compromise, self discipline, not lashing out when angry etc. Now it is up to you what you want to sacrifice or not.

    If you want a partnership, you need to work at it.

    I don't know if you are suggesting you will fall in love with someone and have a perfect happy life and not be attracted to other people, or have issues to deal with. But obviously some people are more compatible than others. Some people are more mature and less selfish, more giving, more emotionally stable and strong.

    So some partners will be a better match, but we humans are not perfect, neither are our relationships.

    Personally the deep love I have for my wife, and feel back from her in words, looks and actions is one of the best things in my life. Working for both our happiness is the one of the greatest projects of my life. This doesn't stop me being attracted to others, but it my choice not to entertain these things as per our agreement.

    Most of us can not have our cake and eat it.

    I suggest if you can find happiness via another path that is fine also if it does not hurt others.
  • Sep 22 2012: "You will never find your true love, there is no perfect relationship."

    There are relationships that are close enough to the ideal to last a lifetime without either of the partners feeling regret at the end of their lives. By "perfect" I suppose you mean "no conflicts ever", but that would get too boring for human beings so people are actually happier in relationships that are not entirely "perfect".
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    Sep 22 2012: You can never "find" your true love, until you wake up one day and your true love lies sleeping on the next pillow, the same as s/he has been for the past twenty years. That's when you've found your true love.
  • Sep 22 2012: The discussion seems to be focussed on a romantic/sexual kind of love. There are other kinds of "love" too. That between siblings, between parents and children, that between friends. That said, I consider all these forms to be delusional.

    I realized that it is a hollow concept when I came across cracks in the wall. The drastic changes I see in couples before they are "in a relationship", during, and after the "relationship" has convinced me that either our culture or our biology has created false gods for us. I have also seen parents doing mean/horrible things to their children, despite claiming to love them. I have heard children talking about the mean things their dad, for example, have done to them and then conclude "but, I know my dad loves me."

    Someone once asked me, several years ago, that if I have gotten rid of "love", what I have substituted it with? I was not clear of what she meant. But if she was talking about my basis for all relationships, it is these two factors:
    1. Enjoyment -- how much we enjoy each others' company.
    2. Trust -- built over time, that we can count on each other in difficult times.
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      Sep 22 2012: One thing struck in my mind after reading your comment - love between parents and children, siblings, etc.
      These things seem obvious, but you really don't have a choice when it comes to these people. You love your mom and dad as a kid (and maybe you drift apart when you are an adult, but something ancient and deep will always be there, because you are their blood), but you never think about what would happen if she/he was a stranger, somebody you would meet in a bar - would you chat with him/her? Would you have something called love? I doubt it... And yet - these relationships between family-members can be really really good.

      So can be pre-arranged marriages in some cases, where, again, you don't really have a choice. - but that's a whole another debate...
      • Sep 22 2012: I have asked myself that too. It is unlikely that if I were to meet most of my blood-relatives, I'd get along fabulously. We are all good people, but our tastes and interests are so different that we might as well be from different planets, in a manner of speaking. What still holds us together is trust, solidly backed by actions. With very young children, it's the opposite. Though there is no question of trust with a 3-year-old, I still enjoy their company. But with people of my age-range, it's some combination of these two factors. With people I have known for a very short time, we spend time together because of mutual enjoyment. Doing things together, and consistently building on this adds to trust.

        I don't know if I have missed some other factor(s) that make each relationship worthwhile. At the moment, I can't think of anything else.

        But how well would you get along with your own family members if you had met them as strangers?

        Since you bring up arranged marriages, I gather from my Indian friends that family background is very important. I guess such relationships start off with a large deposit in the "trust" account. Divorce is extremely rare. Psychologists' research of this concluded that "love" grows over time in these relationships, just as they do in well-functioning non-arranged marriages.
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    Sep 22 2012: Look for what you don't have inside,if she/he has got it then she/he is the one.
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    Sep 22 2012: Love is underestimated and misunderstood.

    A Yoruba proverb says "Beware of the ragged man who promises you new clothes"

    Most people get their ideas of love from romantic novels, TV shows, movies and love songs; and most of the writers/presenters of the pop-love idea have failed woefully in their relationships. Turning to them is like depending on Gaddafi's idea of democracy as a blueprint for a new democratic nation.

    Love is not a feeling; it is a choice that should turn to commitment. It is not selfish, and it focusses on giving rather than getting. It takes hardwork and commitment.

    Some people expect their partners to make them happy; or for the feelings they had at the beginning of a relationship to last forever; or for their partners to remain faithful while they cheat.

    We all need to love, and we all need to be loved; but how far can we go if we dont even know the meaning of love?
    • Sep 22 2012: "Love ... focusses on giving rather than getting."

      Have you seen relationships where one person gives and gives, driven by this self-destroying principle, getting nothing in return? It's like chickenpox; if you get into this situation once, you're immune for life.
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    Sep 21 2012: Love is a lie. Monogamous relationships give you security, and long term happiness. Open relationships, and communes give you fear, and short term happiness... In my opinion. Different strokes for different folks though. I have no interest in sharing my sexual partner with a diseased community.
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      Sep 22 2012: " I have no interest in sharing my sexual partner with a diseased community. "

      Got to admit... good point. You just gotta be careful. But what if there were no sex-related diseases? What then, David? Where would you stand?
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        Sep 22 2012: Ooh, way to make me think twice about something, that I usually respond to rather snarkily. I might, theoretically live long enough for that to apply...

        I don't know what I meant when I said love is a lie either, I've been in some crap moods lately. I just mean that it's not all hearts and flowers, and being perfectly happy with one sexual partner for the rest of your life. It's choosing one, over the desire to have multiple, and as I said to each his own, but the whole commune thing isn't for me.

        I actually think I might personally have an antiquated and traditional enough personality, that I would still prefer one partner over being passed around, in the std free world... specifically because I think that relationship possesses incredible potential. I think when a man and woman vaguely tolerate one another for 30-40 years, and refuse to share that relationship with anyone else (I know like 1 in 100 at best), there is a lot of strength to be found there.

        However, this has been an issue I've always concluded for myself, with the objective... "If everyone did the sex commune thing, we'd all have aids right now"... So I'm okay with the concept for other people, but it's not for me, and I think it's important it not become a culture, specifically for disease prevention purposes. If we had a bunch of doctors, sitting around bored, almost hoping there was a new disease around... I might be perfectly comfortable with the nature of the open relationship, or communal sexuality however. It would take some adjustment, but if there were not STD's, I would probably change my mind.
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          Sep 22 2012: David,do you think everyone around you where you live and the general atmosphere is negatively charged?
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        Sep 23 2012: Ken brown... Yes... I kinda hate living in this country... It feels like everyone 30-60 lives in a fantasy world that's about to collapse on them... because... everyone 30-60 lives in a fantasy world that's about to collapse on them : p

        I know no one outside America cares... but for the last 40 years we've been paying into social security and medicare as if we're going to live to be 70... but my parents generation are about to retire, and their life expectancy is 80, and population leveled off... So taxes are about to spike like a mofo, or we goin down... but no one's talking about it... So I guess everyone just decided to commit suicide.
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    Sep 21 2012: I don't like the word "love". What is "love" anyhow? Can anyone define it? I can say what is loving, but I can't say what love is.

    Even "loving" acts vary from person to person. I was once traveling through a very fundamentalist christian part of the USA, and I saw a billboard. It read - "Spare not the rod, lest your children spend eternity in HELL" When parents spank a child and then say, "I'm only doing this because I love you", is that really love?

    Some people say that they love one another, but do they really? Or have they found a suitable unspoken (or spoken) contract, such as, "I expect you to do this and in return I will do that". Is a secret agreement that requires one to remain stagnant and not "become" really loving?

    But I do think that we are somewhat hard-wired to connect. Those hormones are pretty powerful. But it's hard to answer the question when systemic oppression still penalizes women more than men, and cause women to look for a protector with whom she hopes she will remain friends throughout life. If women had equal power, would they look for a man? Studies do show that men with wives do better in life. Perhaps the shoe would be on the other foot then.

    But love? I think that it's a hormonal thing. But whatever it is that exists as a connection between people, I believe that IT is real. I would much prefer friendship over blind love. I want to see my partner with clarity, and not see him through rose colored glasses. And I want him to see me with equal clarity - flaws and all. That way, we avoid (I hope) the obstacle of not living up to the other's hidden expectations.

    As to perfect relationship? What was perfect for me at 20 would stifle me today. People change. People grow. People become.
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      Sep 22 2012: "I don't like the word love" from TED Lover. Nice! :))

      I agree with you, a real friendship is powerful, but many couples end up being friends after few years or months of the "rose coloured glasses". For some, it is enough and they remain together, but for many, I think, this is not and they end it. And sincerely, that sucks, because they were together for a reason, they started their own "friendship", they surely had a lot in common and it could have been something powerful. But they ended loving each other as a couple and it makes a friendship after the break-up impossible. A lot of potentially awesome friendships go down the toilet this way...
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    Sep 21 2012: In my experience love is not over-rated. But love and perfection are not related.

    You may be in the position that one or both of your parents are still alive. Do you think the way your parents feel about you love-wise is conditional on your being perfect?
  • Sep 21 2012: There is true love. There are no perfect relationships. You don't need to aim to be monogamous. If you really love, it happens by itself and having sex with another partner won't make you happy. There is no love in an open relationship. People who do that are simply not mature enough. I hope this gave u a proper answer of ur question.

    Btw people are different. Some people have a necessity to change partners, some don't. Don't try to generalize but be yourself in a relationship. There is no formula, it's a matter of finding the right person and a lot of time (maybe mistakes or going back and forth) to realize where your happiness really is.