Monday, April 25, 2011

A minefield called Puppy Love

”And they called it Puppy Love, Just because they do not know, How a young heart really feels and why I love you so......”

Back in the late 1970s, I used to be on the stage in my Maxi and two signature, over the ears, hairbuns, singing this Paul Anka/Donny Osmond piece on Saturday evenings at the Pachmarhi Club. Lara’s theme, Top of the World, Fernando and Those were the days, more or less constituted my repertoire. I also sang...I have to confess, “My heart is beating," from the film Julie. I had to make an effort to shut out Preeti Sagar’s voice insisting, “My hurt is beating”.

The Army Education Corp Centre at Pachmarhi boasted of a full fledged Armed Forces music wing. There would be a live band in attendance and there was the SODA, in action on the mike! Incredible days, those were. If a young officer fancied a dance with one of us, they would first seek the father’s permission! “Sir, may I have a dance with your daughter!” Fancy that.

The greatest the next leap took this generation was to a co-ed college. Dad and Mom’s guiding pearl of wisdom, “It is all right to have friends who are boys but not boyfriends. And please to make sure that you invite them over. We would like to meet them”. There was no dating, no going steady and no being in a relationship for most. We were brought up on a diet of two flowers gently colliding together or an umbrella playing spoil sport just as the lead pair began to get adventurous on the screen in Eastman Colour movies.

Cut to the year 2010. There has been all around, such a sea of change. Attitudes, perceptions, needs have evolved to entirely new parameters and there is an attendant vocabulary. My state of denial dissolved the day I had a young lady tell me across the table, “Ma’am, my boyfriend will take care of the pick up.” Boyfriend?! I marvelled at the ease with which the loaded word was out and aired and declared.

So all right, there are the boyfriends, girlfriends and other multi-benefit friends. Status is pretty much a flag mast on the Facebook. Perhaps, it truly is beyond me to understand and appreciate what goes on in a typical young person’s life today. Perhaps there is a pressure to be considered complete in every respect, including their sexuality. Perhaps they feel the need for one person in their high pressure lives that they can trust completely in today’s competitive environment. Perhaps it is lonely, living away from family and they have to have people they can hang out with on a regular basis. Perhaps there are logistic reasons for cultivating relationships...someone to get you coffee or medicines or bus tickets.....there is the business of living.

To any young person today including my girls, I would say, “Whatever your reasons, perceived or real, do not be in a hurry to commit. Keep it open. Grow up first. Don’t give too much of yourself and too soon. Be selfish enough to keep the focus on your own development. Also, do not expect too much and too soon.”

My overriding concerns for the love struck young: Are they equipped to handle the exclusivity that comes with this tag of a relationship ?At a time in life when they need to personally grow, extend and explore, are they tying themselves down to someone their age who is perhaps as anxious and confused, even miserable. How do they expect to handle the mutual blame game that relationships invariably lead to? What will see them through the lows...there being no contract, nothing binding? What point are they going to prove together as a couple when they have not proven any on their own yet? How will they grow in a friendship that by its very nature is bound to become somewhat possessive and restrictive. Where will they find the strength to deal with the consequences of a self image dependent on someone else?

It’s jokingly been said, "If you marry on the strength of puppy love, you'll end up leading a dog's life". I must hasten to add here that young people today are far smarter and level headed to wind up anywhere close to this. Just the same, it might be worth it to remind them to look for someone who helps them reach their highest potential. Someone who empowers and affirms and synergizes. Let the two make one another feel good about themselves. Let them help each other grow in new directions.

After the buzz and the fizz and the crackle settles down, all great relationships are ultimately strong, lasting friendships built on mutual respect and trust.

Where is the hurry? You will remain young longer than you think you will! You may just not be that into each other yet. As they say!

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