a culture of torture

This entry isn’t passing judgment, nor is it generalising as I am sure there are many Filipinos out there with different mindsets.  This is just a personal observation.

Filipinos are hopeless romantics.  You can see this from our movies, our television shows, our songs, and many other forms of art.  We are in love with love; obsessed with it.  We are fixated on falling in love and romance.


When it comes to matters of the heart, it sometimes feels like—and this is a personal point of view—we are a nation of sixteen-year-old teens.


And why not?  Isn’t the giddy dizzy-dancing feeling what people remember most about falling in love?  Doesn’t everyone argue it’s the best part?  Aren’t we told to enjoy it because the work will come later?


While there is nothing wrong with enjoying and relishing the first days of romance, I find that many of us are raised with an unrealistic mindset and hope; that the romance will last, and last without effort.


I too am in love with love.  I too have felt like a perpetual sixteen-year-old, waiting for that one perfect romance.  And I’ve realized that I have been raised in a culture of torture.


Love can be torture.  And when your culture focuses on just one aspect of it, then Love Is Torture.  And nothing is as tortuous as unrequited love.

Anteros. God of reciprocated love and avenger of unrequited love.

Anteros. God of reciprocated love and avenger of unrequited love.

This week on Instagram, my graphic messages of the day focused on unrequited love.  An ever-popular topic, one I’ve written about before, unrequited love is the most classic way love can torture an individual.  After all, when it comes to romance, can anything hurt more than knowing or feeling like you are not loved in return?


Yet we don’t stop loving.  We keep at it.  We pine away for the other, almost happy in our misery.  It’s—very often—enough to drive you mad.


Is there merit to wasting our time on someone who doesn’t see us the same way?  Yes.  This isn’t an original argument, but others before me have postulated that loving someone that doesn’t love you back, loving someone that you perceive to be the perfect person for you, loving someone who will never see you the same way can help you.  It’s torture, yes, but is it really wasting time?  If you know what you want or the kind of person you want; if you focus on turning yourself into the best version of yourself, a version they might want to love; if you know what kind of person is right; then even if they don’t see you that way, isn’t focusing on them better than wasting time on all the wrong people, having one meaningless relationship after the next instead of working on the one that will give meaning to the rest of your life?


(See what I mean about hopeless romance?)


The argument has a point, but it furthers the culture of torture.  It encourages us to accept heartache, to swallow it.  The problem, therefore, is that this argument is incomplete.  The argument fails to remind us that we need to let go.  Wonderfully said inThought Catalog: “what we have to learn to do is to accept the love we aren’t given. To realize that although we put someone on a pedestal, that does not mean that their judgment determines us. It’s simply a mindset, one that we have to change if we want to get out. People can love you a little bit, and they can love you enough but not enough to make it work. It is not an all-or-nothing situation. We have to stop thinking that it is, and that when the cards don’t fall in our favor, that it defines some part of us as being unworthy and unlovable. Because to combat that idea, we hold on as fiercely as we can to the reasons we are loved, until letting go is our idea– not theirs.”


I believe that unrequited love is a rite of passage.  Everyone needs to go through its tortuous woes.  But I don’t think it should be romanticised and prolonged the way our popular media does.  You can be a hopeless romantic, yes, but don’t be hopeless.


Let’s stop torturing ourselves.


So I end with a quote from the same article:

“When someone loves you, you will know it. If someone cares about you, they will find a way to be with you. If they do not, they’ll make excuses. Sometimes they won’t even be sure whether or not they love you, so you’ll see them going back and forth trying to figure it out. Love is not something that requires brain work. It is not a riddle to be solved or a mystery to be uncovered. It just simply is, and we just have to let it be, or not be, naturally.”


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