I'm a huge fan of when two things occur at the same time in the news that illustrate glorious contradictions about how we live our lives. Like, on the one hand, it only takes 224 tweets to fall in love, says this study by UK electronics retailer Pixmania. But over on the other deeper, more enlightened hand, is a story of a guy who said he didn't love his wife when he married her, but not because he was a dick, because he was like, dumb about what real love was and had to experience her ultimate humanity like a mature person.
I get it. Everything is faster now. Step aside, gramps. We grow up faster, we hook up faster, we grow crops faster, we learn how to fly helicopters faster JUST LIKE in The Matrix, and by the time you finish reading this, being 5 years old is going to be more like being 15 — that's how fucking fast the world is now! Look! You just blinked and humans became orbs.
What does this mean for your love life? That obviously we've evolved our intuition, judgment and communication so efficiently and intelligently that we now fall in love faster than you can say catfish wedding. Or at least the communication part.
Says The Telegraph:
Couples aged 55 and over said on average their courting process took more than two and a half months (78 days) whereas for those under the age of 25 it takes just under one month (24 days) for them to refer to each other as boyfriend and girlfriend. … It also found it now takes couples an average of 224 tweets, 163 text messages, 70 Facebook messages, 37 emails and 30 phone calls to fall head over heels in love.
And now I'm going to blow your mind: Exactly 224 tweets were sent on Twitter's first day of business you guys, which means that's how many tweets it also took for US to fall in love with TWITTER. THAT HAS TO MEAN SOMETHING.
Also, 68 percent of people would chat up a new love interest within four hours of meeting instead of three days like everyone knows you're supposed to wait. Uh, what? Three days is a thing? Because of Swingers? People actually took that seriously? Those guys were dick people! So yeah, go out and celebrate, it's Officially the End of the Three-Day Rule, That Rule You Never Followed Anyway.
OK, but back to the real meat and potatoes of the meat and potatoes:
Ghadi Hobeika, marketing director of PIXmania.com, said: "With the nation obsessed with constantly communicating with one another, modern technology is putting the speed into speed dating and encouraging more contact between budding lovers.
"The days of penning a simple love letter to woo your new beau are over.”
[Packs up ancient calligraphy set.]
Let's just clarify a few things here:
- Speed dating doesn't mean the emotions go faster, it means a bunch of people get rotated in front of you like legs of Spanish ham.
- It's not like everyone in our parents' generation was a fuckin' Cyrano de Bergerac of letters or whatever, like some Ultimate Era of bundled weathered ribbon-tied letter-penning.
- Love got faster? Tell that to the people who were courting when letters were suddenly delivered by horseback. Tell that to the women hanging around when 250,000 fewer men came home from WW2. When the automobile took dating from the living room next to your dad to the backseat of a Chevy. When a telephone was in every home.
- Also, I have no idea what this study means by "love." Not because I think it has some highly specific definition that people refuse to agree on, but because it doesn't. So when studies come out saying it takes 224 tweets to fall in love, I'm like, I guess? If love is "like," if love is dating, if love is being a couple, if love is making it official. I don’t even know anymore, and neither do you!
Can we try to clarify one thing here for everyone? Love is a highly, highly, highly subjective term. Most people would agree that making a relationship official does not have any such meaning that you are now in love with that person. That could take years, or never happen, or only happen in one kind of loving way but not the other kind of loving way. You can be in love with someone you wouldn't marry or not in love with someone you would.
So when a study is all, in 70 Facebook messages you LOVE someone. No. You mean, after 70 Facebook messages people felt a combination of interest and information sufficient enough to justify publicly admitting to wanting to be around this motherfucker. Don't front.
Ask this guy Elad Nehorai. He told his wife he loved her on their second date. Some people would call that super sweet and romantic, others would call it totally creepy, or a great basis for a very long-running show. I'd say his wife is the ultimate arbiter of that. But anyway. Nehorai explains that as Hasidic Jews, he and his wife had a pretty fast courtship and married after about five months of dating (becoming engaged two months in). Clearly, he had told his wife he loved her and meant it. But:
Marriage, quicker than I was ready for, did this thing: It started sucking away that emotion.
I tried so hard to keep that fire going, to keep that emotion alight, but it got harder and harder.
I mean, how you can feel that burning love when you're sitting at the table discussing how to use the last $20 in your bank account?
Brace yourself for this one: WHAT IF HE HAD JUST USED TWITTER.
It's worth a read for its unique perspective, but also for its universal truths: Your definition of love changes as your relationship grows; it becomes more about the effort you make and less about a feeling that has consumed you. Nehorai ultimately concludes:
I didn't love my wife on that second date.
I didn't love her when we got engaged.
I didn't even love her when we got married.
Because love isn't an emotion. That fire I felt, it was simply that: emotional fire. From the excitement of dating a woman I felt like I could marry. But it wasn't love.
No, love isn't an emotion or even a noun. It's a verb. Better defined as giving. As putting someone else's needs above your own.
I'm not saying he has the only right answer. I'm saying other people are dumb.
No, see, I think most people who are committed will say the love is different in the beginning, not absent, but Nehorai's essay is still a great contrast to the study claiming we all fall in love faster because it presents what we'd now call the old model. It's Slow Love (even though it looks like Fast Love).
But back to High-Speed Love (Now With DSL!): I think letters and emails and messages absolutely can foster genuine knowledge and intimacy, too, otherwise we haven't so many people meet and fall in love after long letter-driven courtships in the past, or long online exchanges now.
A person is not more real in person than in words — anyone can lie to your face as easily as they can from a computer, the difference is merely in what you can actually get away with lying about. I know of a woman who convinced many men for decades that she was some 30 years younger than she was. In person. People want to believe.
And so perhaps in order to believe, we will take this study about 224 tweets and laugh and send it 'round the Internet and hail it as a sign o' the times, news that the pathway to love is now new and improved, and maybe just a little bit more convenient and easier than it used to be.
But all this still fails to answer the most important question: Does that include retweets?
Image by Jim Cooke.