Trite ad­vice on love won’t re­light any­body’s fire

Hardeep Singh Kohli

Sunday Herald - - WEEK IN PERSPECTIVE - Hardeep Singh Kohli is a Scot­tish writer and broad­caster. Fol­low his an­tics @mis­terhsk

WHAT is the price of love? While this is truly imme as u r a b l e , thank­fully the free mar­ket will al­ways pro­vide us an in­di­ca­tion: £1.75. That’s the price hike on a sin­gle red rose as Valen­tine’s Day ap­proaches. “To be wise and love ex­ceeds (hu)man’s might …” Never were the words of Shake­speare more apt. I hate all th­ese “days”: Mother’s, Fa­ther’s, Left-handed Vir­goans and most of all Valen­tine’s Day. Th­ese are craven cap­i­tal­ist con­structs, men­da­cious mar­ket­ing modes to sub­lim­i­nally sug­gest that we spend more hard-earned cash lest we be shamed for not suf­fi­ciently lov­ing our mother/fa­ther/left-handed Vir­goan part­ner. Such is the cult of that date in the mid­dle of Fe­bru­ary that al­most one-quar­ter of women sur­veyed felt that this, of all days, was the best time to pro­pose mar­riage to their part­ners. You may well be won­der­ing why I’m rant­ing about Valen­tine’s Day in the mid­dle of Au­gust. To­day is the fi­nal day of “Rekin­dle Ro­mance Week”. Aye. Ex­actly. The week be­gan ex­actly six months on from Valen­tine’s Day, on Au­gust 14. Ac­cord­ing to the Rekin­dle Ro­mance Week web­site, that seven-day pe­riod “is a time to reignite, respark and re­vive the love that once burned strong in your re­la­tion­ship. This Rekin­dle Ro­mance Week show the special per­son in your life how much they mean to you”. Who is be­hind such a gauche at­tempt to mon­e­tise the per­sonal feel­ings of those en­dur­ing the all-too-com­mon bumps that grind us through long-term re­la­tion­ships? It ap­pears to be a PR com­pany, The Re­la­tions Group. Did the pres­ence of Valen­tine’s Day miss them? Were choco­late and greet­ing cards at an all-time low in Au­gust that they felt com­pelled to give them a boost? There is the slight­est pos­si­bil­ity that be­hind what seems like an ut­terly un­nec­es­sary mid-year re­boot of an al­ready ob­vi­ously com­mer­cial take on love there might be good in­ten­tions.

The web­site is, how­ever, a font of un­be­liev­ably trite ad­vice, an oa­sis of ob­vi­ous, a case study in the telling us what we al­ready know – re­peat­edly. “Be­tween so­cial en­gage­ments and fa­mil­ial re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, it can be dif­fi­cult to fit in spend­ing time with your part­ner.”

Re­ally? That had never oc­curred to me. The web­site ad­vice con­tin­ues: “It can be easy to let ar­gu­ing about house­hold chores or chat­ting to friends on­line dis­tract you from ac­tu­ally pay­ing proper at­ten­tion to them.”

I don’t know about you but I have never be­fore ex­pe­ri­enced such pro­foundly in­sight­ful thought. Yet, there’s more. “Rekin­dling your ro­mance means try­ing to re­cap­ture the feel­ings that first brought you both to­gether. Fo­cus­ing on what you love about your loved one will help those ro­man­tic feel­ings flow.”

Maybe in try­ing to re­cap­ture feel­ings from those early days you’ve dis­cov­ered your part­ner hates that you spend all evening read­ing on­line web­sites. Fur­ther­more, I ob­ject to the sug­ges­tion that you un­block the flow of ro­man­tic feel­ings dur­ing an ar­bi­trary week in Au­gust. Why? What in­spired this bleed­ing-heart baloney mas­querad­ing as mean­ing­ful in­ves­ti­ga­tion? Noth­ing.

Call me a cur­mud­geon, call me killjoy Kohli, but there’s more than a lit­tle des­per­a­tion about this “cre­ated” con­cept of­fer­ing ad­vice in the most pa­tro­n­is­ing of all tones. Is this what we’ve be­come?

I don’t doubt, in fact I know from first-hand ex­pe­ri­ence, mod­ern re­la­tion­ships re­quire a level of work and en­ergy that our par­ents and grand­par­ents wouldn’t recog­nise. We are still very much in the process of deal­ing with the all-too-grad­ual (some­time glacial) jour­ney towards gen­uine gen­der equal­ity. Com­bine with this the chang­ing and de­vel­op­ing na­ture of mod­ern fam­i­lies, the marginal­i­sa­tion of the ex­tended fam­ily and the in­creased im­por­tance of the com­pound fam­ily.

Re­la­tion­ships and fam­ily life have never been so chal­leng­ing but shouldn’t our friends and fam­ily, our near­est and dear­est, be on hand to ad­vise and guide? While “the course of true love never did run smooth”, re­ly­ing on a com­mer­cial web­site sug­gests nav­i­gat­ing into al­to­gether chop­pier wa­ters.

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