x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

You can't cheat love, but there are plenty of people who try

Don't look for love, it will come looking for you.

What is love? That is the question that thousands of poets, musicians, philosophers and even mystics have tried to divine. Is it just a chemical reaction? Or is it soul-deep? Purely emotions and feelings? Is it fate, or just being there at the right time with the right person?

What is love and why we fall in love is an abyss of riddles.

So I am not even going to try to define it. But for the longest time, I have been hearing interesting theories, really more like rumours, about love that keep being revived in each generation. So there must be a kernel of truth there, right?

One old saying goes that there are more romantic break-ups during winter than during the rest of the year. I have heard this since childhood, when elders would warn young couples against the "father blue" of winter who casts a cold pall over people's hearts.

I didn't pay much attention then, but as I grew older I began to notice that many of my friends' marriages or engagements did fall apart in winter, some right before Christmas, New Year's or even around Valentine's Day. Perhaps it has to do with the pressure of the holidays? That doesn't make much sense, though, since many of my heart-broken friends don't even celebrate those holidays.

But a Facebook study in 2010, looking at people's posts about break-ups, found a spike in the winter. There was also a higher number of splits on Mondays, perhaps as a result of things that happened on the weekend.

There is also an oft-repeated saying among Arabs that if a couple is engaged for over a year, then they won't get married.

"Almost a year?" a friend of mine asked not too long ago. "Poor girl. He is not going to marry her in the end." Sadly, the mutual friend did break up with her beaux, but was it because of the one-year rule, or because of all the negative talk directed at her? People can't help judging others' relationships, and there are always exceptions. I have friends who have been engaged for up to three years and still ended up happily married.

Then there are the rituals that are supposed to bring love into your life, like drawing a heart or the name of your crush on a piece of paper and putting it under your pillow. There is also the romantic version of Feng Shui, where people buy everything in pairs: two chairs, two plates, two candlesticks, two of everything as if inviting that imaginary partner to live with them.

Tarot card readings, visits to psychics, reading horoscopes - people look for every edge in matters of the heart. Everyone wants love, after all, and some will go to extremes.

It is not a coincidence there are almost weekly reports of people seeking the services of a witch doctor or sorcerer to cast love spells on someone.

Traditional matchmakers are in vogue again as more and more single people are struggling to find the "right" person, whatever that may mean. Ironically, the world is now so interconnected that people are missing real human interaction.

Unfortunately, too many people think that they can fix the void they feel by finding a partner, but they need to fix themselves first.

Everyone has his or her own love story, and each one is special. Some say it was a ritual or fate, others say it just happens when least expected.

"When you don't look for love, it comes looking for you." That may be the best advice from many happily married couples to all the single people out there.

 

rghazal@thenational.ae

On Twitter: @arabianmau