Relationships in the post-modern west are a complex thing. On the one hand romantic love has been elevated to a sacred status. Having killed God and political ideology, the only aspect of life ruled by earnestness remains matters of the heart. Not for everyone of course. The cogniscenti see this too as a Derridean game to be endlessly deconstructed and played with.
However, for your average person love still counts for something. The more pertinent question, however, is what love actually means. On the one hand it is the repository of lost hopes for postmodern humanity. On the other a slightly sniffling Hallmark card of a sensation, to be scoffed and derided in all its sentimental glory. Love is no more than a lost love, a nostalgia for the land of fiction which died with God and fairies somewhere around the demise of Nietszche.
Yeah I know, religion is making a comeback. At dinner parties across our continent faith is standing up once again to be counted as a marker of identity. However, in my opinion, our new fixation with faith has rather more to do with our fear of faithlessness. In a world where everything is portrayed as relative, with relations more about power and desire than fidelity and honesty, people are reverting back to this time-honored response. I detect more than a little desperation in the action though. Confronted with the ultimate unpleasantness of rampant consumerism and individualism - and lacking coherent modern responses thereto - people are falling back into old moulds. But with the inevitable whiff of scepticism that accompanies tradition for traditions' sake.
People are lost. And they are lonely. Of this there is no doubt. But they are not firm believers either. The cult of romance, the cult of Christianity. Both are clutching at straws. Not because they are obviously false (I am personally inclined to believe in a merciful God, and in the improvement in humanity that selfless love brings out in us). The problem, if you like, lies in the packaging. Both have yet to be scripted for the twentifirst century. Both exist in paradigms that the world has now outlived. But for lack of alternatives still craves.
Which brings me back to my initial question. Who needs love? The answer, of course, is all of us. Bot not in the form in which we believe it exists. Love in the modern age is little more than an emotional high. For as long as we are floating on a chemical cloud-nine with our beloved the world is wonderful. Like a cheap ecstasy pill, once the feeling wears off we have to take another one (often a different brand) or suffer the realisation of its fictional happiness. That is not love to me.
Love is that thing that develops when people's lives are interminably intertwined. Love is learning to live together, to survive the moments you despair of each other, you are bored of each other, in short, the moments where emotions rule your heart. Only the day-by-day predictability of other human lives enmeshed with our own can bring true love. Which is why childhood friends so often endure. Not only because they are close. But because they were, and are, there with us all through our lives.
Loving another human being should not always be a choice. Rather an attitude, a survival mechanism if you will, that grows between people who would rather work with, rather than against, each other. And that requires qualities which today's definition of love abjures: the ability to survive boredom, antagonism, fall outs, inequalities. In short, that which binds us together despite difference.
For further evidence look no further than your own family.