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Tough love: Part One

It’s tough to be in love when you’re young.

This theme is in two parts. The first, is on the above topic and my own observations. The second is the ‘tough love’ that defined the industry showing feedback.

PART ONE: Young love, tough love

It’s really really hard to be in love when you are young. It shouldn’t be, youth has so much energy and hope about it, love should be just another adventure. But here’s why it is tough: there are no certainties in young love. A relationship you have spent months, even years, developing could dissolve instantly in the face of new opportunities that you have to take because you are young. The irrefutable fact is that young people are, and should be, caught in a storm of uncertain and frequent choices about THE FUTURE. How is young love supposed to survive? Because whether or not you admit it, that uncertainty niggles.

I’ll be frank. Marriage is not the answer you’re looking for, and it’s not why I’m writing about this. Marriage and stricter socio-religious conventions used to be the answer. I do not intend to re-make the overly made point that divorce rates are what, 40%?, or that a lot of couples who get married stay married and in love (I have two good friends marrying this weekend and I couldn’t be happier for them). That is not the issue. The issue is uncertainty and how to navigate through it as a young person, in love.

A friend, let’s call her the Corporate Hippie, recently described young love as this: “it’s like you (young people) are building a beautiful, well made, strong and dreamworthy castle….but it’s in the air.” Yeah, I choked on my chinese noodle chips at  that too. Because it’s exactly what we’re doing and, unlike everything else, we don’t have a choice. Paradoxically, the plethora of choices facing young people (those in and out of love) is what stops them from building a castle on solid ground. Why would we want to, when flying is so much fun?

Now, you might be asking how this is relevant to my work in Ten Irish Love Songs. Apart from saying “well duh, because it’s about love” it’s actually because this got me thinking about my grandparents, love and the war. And then I thought about a line from an Yves Klein Blue song that always sticks with me: “What this generation needs is a war.” It’s true.

I don’t condone war, that’s not my point. However, the industry showing feedback (which I’ll write about in Part Two) asked for me to flesh out the love story between my grandparents and now, serendipitously, by looking at the challenges of love facing myself and my peers, I have started to.

Exploring how my grandparents’ love and marriage survived the war (which it did) made me think about the war that young people face today to be together. It’s essentially a war against themselves. My grandparents were lucky that the war and that the distance it impinged upon their love were tangible. Young people in love today, without a war to separate and unite them are less so. We deal in untouchables: the little things that we don’t quite realise are bugging us. We have sex, we drink, we have careers and friends. But not yet babies and not yet mortgages (some of us) and not yet choices with restrictions and for most of us, not yet wars. So we live for the moment and love the castle in the air, but we don’t know where it is taking us. Sort of like Howl’s Moving Castle.

In my audition for ArtsLab10 I was asked if I had a working definition for love. And after fumbling around and making a verbose and confusing answer, I asked the interviewers what their definition was. One answered that to her “love is deciding to stay, making the conscious choice not to leave.” At the time I thought it was almost a cynical definition but now that I am thinking about love, war, distance and the challenges of young people, I see how right it is.

I’m not ready to conclude on this topic, there is so much more to write but for now these are the beginnings of some thoughts that will come to a clearer definition as the creative process continues. If you have any thoughts you would like to add, I’d really love to hear from you!! Either post on the comments section below or email me at



Responses (3)

  1. What a fantastic topic to explore, with a self-imposed challenge (for me) to keep my response as succinct as possible on such a rich subject. Let’s see how I go.

    I often enjoy how challenged I am by my parents’ approach to love: they’ve been married for over 30 years and, though I’d never admit to them, I adore that I find them sneaking kisses on the couch. For all intents and purposes they’re opposites, and I believe the ‘opposite’s attract’ theory is balderdash… and yet, there my parents stand as testament to the fact that it works. They also believe in the concept of ‘the one’–something I used to believe in and have since refuted–another belief that I am at ends with… and yet, here they stand 30 years on, four kids later, still undeniably loving each other.

    I’ve loved before, I’ve had my heart broken and broken the hearts of more than one girl who has dared to love me. I had a 10-year running battle with trying to reconcile romantic love and the insincerity I felt in uttering those three dreaded words. For me, my eventual (and not so long ago) realisation was that love is a choice: plain and simple. Whether it’s romantic, platonic, or a family member that you wouldn’t really get along with if you didn’t share blood with, it’s all about choice. What you choose to do to them, potentially at the expense of yourself. Forget the butterflies, the warm feelings, the way a certain someone makes you FEEL when you think of them: all of that is temporary. Love that survives–the test of time, the eventuality of evolving personalities, the certainty of external pressures influencing our internal world–is the variety that can be made sense of with one’s head more-so than one’s heart.

  2. James says:

    I really love the idea of the war that love grows around/through being the war against the self. Really resonates with lots I’ve been doing lately. Mainly the concept that in acting as in life, things only start really working once you “get out of your own way”. For me personally, I’ve been finding that I’ve only been able to really give something to other people (and open up to love) when I ‘let go’ of my inner struggle – like acknowledging there’s a war going on and choosing to leave it aside for a few moments.

  3. claram7 says:

    Hey guys! Thanks for your comments. I am only just getting on top of this whole blogging thing, so apologies for taking this long to respond. Nathan I think the story of your parents is incredibly beautiful. It’s fascinating how other ‘models of love’ form such a reference point for our own love lives.

    I’m not sure I completely agree with ‘forget the butterflies’ because of their importance in ensuring that love survives. They are temporarily intense for a short time and then once every so often they give a little flutter as love goes on and that reminds you of why you started it in the first place. But choice definitely comes into it…the choice to stay or the choice to go. Sometimes you depart in your mind without telling your lover I think. It’s what brings you back that counts for alot. Thanks, insightful words.

    And James yes! That’s exactly what I was getting at. The new ‘war’ with ourselves is a product of our time I guess. And it goes back to choice, as Nathan mentioned. We have so.much.choice. What do we do with that? Where do we go? Who do we stay with? It’s not forever, now. It’s for uncertainty. And that can be really exciting because it’s so open to possibility, but it can also be incredibly daunting. It can make you yearn for the past when there were conventions that attempted to enforce certainty. However with that comes a lack of freedom. Which is preferable? I don’t know. 🙂

    Thanks again guys, if you’ve had any further thoughts since your last posts I’d love to hear. Nathan you can be as longwinded as you like 😉