One fateful day, German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, “God is dead!” And on an even more fateful day, Chayma Charifi wrote, “God is dead.… but Cupid isn’t!” According to Nietzsche, God’s death means that humans are now free to create their own values and meanings. In a secular, individualist culture where we are our own meaning-makers, I propose that Cupid is our new God—or at least, how we attribute value to ourselves.
I grew up a pretty agnostic, hopeless romantic. I’m a sucker for a slow-burn, enemies–to-lovers plot (i.e. Mindy and Danny from “The Mindy Project” and Anne and Gilbert from “Anne with an E”), and I was a huge Jim and Pam fan when “The Office” had the world in a chokehold. But I’m not the only one with rose-colored glasses on. A sick obsession with romance has taken over present day society.
Think about it. How many times have you heard the pleading cries of an unhappy single person on both the digital landscape and in real life? “When will I find love?” “When will it be my turn?” “I’m going to be single forever.” It is not uncommon to know at least one person who has been on a couple dating apps with little to no success and, for some of us, to know someone who is engaged for the second time at the ripe age of 22.
Maybe it’s just me, but someone’s love life is the most interesting thing I can know about them. Two seconds into small talk and I’m itching, burning, to say: “So … tell me about your love life.” I come home to my dorm room after a long day of classes and immediately ask my roommate if she has any prospects. And if I’m catching up with a friend, without hesitation, I beg for updates on their situationship.
It feels like this obsession with love was a seed planted into our minds during adolescence. I recall a younger me in a kindergarten classroom, imagining how I hoped my life would pan out, ending my fantasy off with “getting married and having kids,” like a neat little bow on a gift box. What business did I have entertaining ideas about true love and raising a family at the age of five? And why was I so curious about my teachers’ love lives and families?
So back to God and Cupid.
Many of us are in love with the idea of being in love. We chase connection, feeling enamored with novel relationships and disappointed with their ends, inevitably journeying off to chase that feeling once again. Love is unconditional, it is blind—like the love of a divine, higher being. And once we’ve found “the one”—how prophetic—our “happily ever after” is soon to come. For the more emotionally dysregulated population (i.e. me), finding “the one” is an arduous experience. When seeking love is done the wrong way (it’s always done the wrong way), I end up putting those I “love” on a pedestal and kicking them off as soon as they stop fitting the image I imposed onto them. It’s cruel and unfair and it happens again and again.
It’s tempting to attribute our meaning to something as enticing as love. It seems like a better option than chalking up our purpose to our careers and reputations. But chasing the temporary highs of affection and validation is just as dangerous as chasing superficialities.
Comparing romantic love to a religious experience works to a point. The thing about love, though, is that those on the receiving end are not Gods, they’re not higher beings, they’re humans too.
Chayma Charifi is a member of the Class of 2025.