Meaning of Love and Relationships in the 21st Century

Symbolic interactionism refers to “the view of social behavior that emphasizes linguistic or gestural communication and its subjective understanding, especially the role of language in the formation of the child as a social being,” according to the dictionary’s definition. To put it into simpler terms, the meaning of things is constantly changing for people, whether it is societal or personal. The meaning of marriage, for example, has changed in several ways over time due to gender roles. Decades ago, marriage consisted of a husband who worked all day and a wife who stood home to cook and clean. Now-a-days marriage is about equality and can even consist of two men or two women. At the end of the day we can all agree that, in America at least, the reason for marriage, for the most part, is because of love.


But what is love? We couldn’t possibly answer this question the same way we would’ve in the 1800s just as a person from back then couldn’t describe what the internet is. Late singer and actress, Eartha Kitt laughed when an interviewer once asked her about love and compromise, replying with, “When you’re in love, what is there to compromise about;” if only it was that easy. In today’s society, we praise the concepts such as having “side chicks,” especially through media. I recently finished watching season 4 of Grace and Frankie on Netflix and there was a particular scene that stood out to me. Sol and Robert, two men in their seventies, who finally got married after decades of being “in the closet,” find their marriage in a slump, resulting in them going to therapy. There, the therapist tells them they should try new things such as sleeping with other people. While Sol and Robert are surprised at this response, their therapist reassures them that a compromise like this is common amongst gay men in order to make relationships work.


As a little girl, getting married one day was something I dreamed about. Now that I’m older and know more, the idea of marriage almost terrifies me. What kind of compromises will I have to make in order to withhold the image of monogamy? Can it even be called monogamy at that point? My words aren’t meant to scare anyone; it’s just some food for thought.