Love Is All You Need?


I heard this story second hand, and have been thinking about it for months. A woman I know: her daughter told her she was feeling depressed, disjointed. The daughter was living a coast away at college for the first time, finding her place, nineteen or twenty years old. I’ve met her a few times and remember a smart, sensitive, and savvy young adult.

What the mom said to her daughter next is what got me thinking. She said something like, “Why don’t you find a boyfriend?”

I reacted badly to that, and so did the rest of us who heard this story. Who would tell their kid that the answer to their problems is finding a boyfriend (girlfriend, partner, etc.)? This is a young woman who might be depressed and lonely; probably anxious; someone who is managing a slew of mood challenges and life transitions. A romantic relationship isn’t going to tame those beasts, and is likely to present additional issues to wrestle.

It was easy for us to pile on the mom for suggesting the boyfriend route, especially since she wasn’t there to defend herself or add context to the situation. But no one says the solution to mood disorders, or boredom, or lack of direction or interests is a boyfriend. That’s lipstick on pig territory.

Afterward, I kept thinking about this story, and I wondered was I too hasty to judge. Are this Mom, and The Beatles, right? “All You Need is Love.”

I decided to conduct a little research, starting with myself. As a younger man, I might have been one of those people who believed love could solve my problems, and so I either had a girlfriend, or I was looking for one; and when I had a girlfriend I was happier, despite whatever else was going on in my life.

There were periods during my younger decades I can best describe as rudderless: I didn’t know where I was going, what I was doing, or what should happen next. Did being in love solve these problems for me? Yes at first, and not so much later, but even later, when I finally had to face whatever I had to face, it was a lot easier to do knowing someone believed in me, thought I was lovable, and could offer me counsel.

Sure, none of my love affairs—save one, fortunately—lasted the long haul, but being in love, or even semi in love, made rough seas calmer and dark days brighter for me.

I see the same thing happening with several young people I know. I believe younger generations face more challenges and pressures from more directions than I did: economic, social, psychological, cultural, political. Or maybe young people today are just more self-aware and open about their problems than I was. Either way, I’m seeing some of them benefit from being in romantic relationships, while still having a list of emotional challenges to tackle.

Others say they need to work on themselves before they can be in a relationship. They say they’re not ready to be involved with anyone. The timing isn’t right. That could well be the case for them, although meeting the right person can sometimes fix those timing and being ready issues.

And to the mom who suggested her daughter find a boyfriend? You know your kid best. I still think you could have led with something else: acknowledging feelings, some emotional support. That kind of thing. Because love can’t cure all that ails you, although it might help you feel a hell of a lot better while you’re trying to heal or find yourself.

By David Klein

David Klein

Published novelist, creative writer, journalist, avid reader, discriminating screen watcher.


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