Will Love Endure?

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In the future, love will make everyone very happy. No one will do stupid things for the sake of love: no more sacrificing dignity, no more whining, so long to petty jealousy. In short, no more torment. Also, in the future love will last. Divorce rates will plummet, possibly into single digits. You won’t suddenly realize that the person you’ve loved for the last decade is an entirely different person from the one you thought you knew. No one will "just get really sick of" a spouse or partner. Mates won’t become boring because new depths will continually be revealed; there will be fascinating and novel things to talk about, unexplored facets of the relationship to plumb. Phrases like "for the sake of the children" will become as quaint as Victorianera notions seem to us now. Not only will love endure, so will sexual desire—for one person, and one person alone—for the course of a lifetime. No more sneaking around or sevenyear itch, no snooping through desk drawers or mysterious credit-card charges leading to screaming matches.

In other words, we will all be heavily medicated—even more so than at the moment, I mean: on new, even more effective versions of serotonin promoters or endorphin boosters or other forms of chemically synthesized beatitude. Pharmaceutical interests will have perfected a pill or patch for women whose sexual desire is flagging—according to the American Medical Association, some 43 percent of the female population. Finally, goodbye to "sexual dysfunction" in both sexes. (Promising results from testosterone patches for women are already being reported—with a $100 million ad campaign planned for Procter & Gamble’s Intrinsa, which everyone’s hoping will be the female Viagra. So what if there are suddenly a lot of women with mustaches?) And when those 43 percent of sexually indifferent women get a libido boost, husbands will stop fleeing intimacy or watching sports all weekend, and those "little things" of shared domestic life will no longer grate. Trust between the sexes will finally prevail. Men and women will discover that they’re really more alike than different. Or that they’re more different than alike, but that’s OK—vive la differénce! And when everyone’s more maritally fulfilled, opposition to gay marriage will evaporate too. After all, shouldn’t everyone share the joy?

That old relationship snafu, lack of self-knowledge, will be a thing of the past as well. A saturation of talk-show therapeutics and self-help bestsellers finally will have solved that little problem. Your own motives will no longer be a mystery to you! Goodbye to "acting out" (though it was fun while it lasted, if less so for those on the receiving end). Other people will be transparent, too, because we will all be so much more psychologically astute. You will know absolutely where the other person stands. The mystery will be gone—but so will the terrifying uncertainty of romance.

So that’s one possible future for love: Between Big Pharma and pop therapeutics, we can finally overcome the human condition. It was always so annoying, wasn’t it? On the other hand, we might find ourselves muddling along much as we do at the moment: inelegantly. Unions will be formed, and dumb luck will have a lot to do with the outcome. And when unions fail . . . it will still always be the other person’s fault.

Laura Kipnis teaches in the School of Communication at Northwestern University. She is the author of Against Love: A Polemic (2003) and The Female Thing, which is forthcoming from Pantheon.


 

 

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