Liquid love: the commodification of love in the 21st century

Liquid love: the commodification of love in the 21st century

Liquid love is the prevailing romantic philosophy of our time .

You’ve probably heard of the Polish sociologist at some point in your life
Zygmunt Bauman and his concept of liquid love The enunciation could not be more graphic: liquid love , an image that is the perfect metaphor for something frequent in our society: the fragility of love relationships .

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Zygmunt Bauman’s Liquid Love? You can do it at this link

Liquid love: defining the concept

This is typical of the information and consumer society in which we find ourselves.
People give more value to the present experience, to freedom without any kind of ties , to punctual and not very responsible consumption and to the immediate satisfaction of the corporal and intellectual needs. Everything that does not comply with the requirement of immediacy, of using and throwing away, is discarded.

Liquid love, then, refers to the fragility of sentimental ties , alluding to the need not to establish deep emotional roots with the people we come across in life, in order to remain emotionally detached and thus be able to fit into a constantly changing environment. However, liquid love does not only refer to our relationships with others, but also to our relationship with ourselves, since Bauman considers that we live in a culture that stands out for the liquidity of individuals’ self-love.

Related article:
Mature love: Why second love is better than first?

Loving others begins with oneself

Many people fail to understand that to love another individual deeply
it is necessary to love oneself first. This, which is a reality that few people doubt, is not usually the basis on which many relationships are built, in which other values and needs prevail that have little to do with emotional well-being.

This is one of the shortcomings of our culture, which pushes us to have a partner even when it would be necessary for individuals to meet and
build their self-esteem before going out to seek emotional and sentimental support from another human being. This leads us to emotional dependence, that is, to depend on the approval and esteem of others to sustain our self-esteem, which can cause us suffering and discomfort.

Liquid love in individualistic culture

Western culture, in many cases, does not encourage us to create long-term bonds of trust, and many people have serious difficulties in feeling accompanied and loved. This tendency not to create lasting relationships is explained by
the great responsibility and importance that this would entail, a "reef" that we are not motivated to assume .

It can also be due to the fear of being let down or hurt. The
Fear of love or philophobia tends to paralyze us and avoid anything that sounds like commitment, making it impossible for us to create solid and deep relationships.

Liquid connection versus long-term love

In his many essays, Zygmunt Bauman develops several theories and reflections on love in our time. Today, he says,
love relationships are based more on physical attraction than on a deep connection on a more personal level . They are relationships marked by the individualism of both members, in which the contact is ephemeral, and this is known in advance, which increases their condition of sporadic and superficial relationship. A love that is born to be consumed and consummated, but never to be sublimated.

Bauman’s idea of liquid love focuses on the individualism of our societies , the constant search for the immediate satisfaction of our desires, the experiences of using and throwing away and the commodification of personal relationships. From this arises the notion of liquid love, in the yes of a society that does not want to show strong and lasting emotions, but prefers to jump from flower to flower on the lookout for fleeting and anodyne pleasures. This is the multitasking mode applied to the world of relationships.

The virtual world and its influence on the emergence of ephemeral love

Perhaps the appearance of the
Social networks and new technologies have played a role in consolidating this trend that many people are suffering from. We live in a constantly changing world, where the virtual and the real are confused with amazing ease.

Sometimes this can make the most sensitive people desperate , because the high pace of life makes it very difficult for us to connect with other people on an emotional level.

Commercial values, commercial loves

If we maintain relationships with an expiration date it is because society pushes us to it , to have increasingly weak and flexible ties, to put down few roots wherever we go. This is how we are educated, this is how we are. We teach children that they can have toys and technological gadgets if they pass the next exam, and we introduce them to a mercantile culture where one must feel motivated only by the rewards one obtains in exchange for one’s work, thus nullifying the intrinsic motivations and genuine tastes of each person.

This promotes the feeling that not only objects but also people are consumable, and therefore potential sexual partners are objectified.
That person who attracts us is nothing more than a piece of meat that must be tasted, and it is not necessary for us to worry about their desires, concerns, needs, tastes… how are we going to connect emotionally with someone if we are only interested in having something carnal?

Liquid love and reification

Another of the great pillars on which liquid love rests is the reification of people. That is, the tendency to perceive and value people as objects, things. Means, in the end, to achieve an end: physical pleasure, social acceptance of others, etc.

Liquid love would be conveyed through reification because it gives the opportunity to create largely disposable relationships. Therefore, flexibility in relating to other people would go hand in hand with a lack of empathy towards them.

Possible reflections to put liquid love in check

Obviously,
we must fight the scale of values of our societies to combat liquid love and its undesirable effects on our well-being. Human beings are not objects waiting to be consumed: we think, we yearn, we fail, we feel… To start subverting the established order, it is necessary to start valuing ourselves more, and to feel that we are worthy of being respected and valued, just like any other individual.

Liquid love can be fun but it’s also ephemeral, which can leave us
a sense of existential emptiness. Consumerists are always eager to buy more things, but that doesn’t make them happy because the material always ends up fading away. Do we want to be consumerists with personal relationships too?

Causes of liquid love

1. Insecurity

One of the causes of liquid love is
insecurity and lack of self-esteem. If we do not perceive ourselves as fully capable and worthy of having a serious, loyal and deep relationship, it is difficult for us to find a person who does want to maintain a close bond with us.

2. Low self-esteem

Continuing with the previous point, insecurity and poor self-esteem are two sides of the same coin. If we only seek to momentarily satisfy our need to relate, it is because we are not emotionally mature enough to make deep contact with the person we are attracted to.
We don’t want to put our emotional well-being in check by giving ourselves to someone too quickly , which is good but can hurt us if we take it to an extreme and put a shield on ourselves in front of others.

On the other hand, if we trust ourselves we can move forward little by little, noticing what the other person’s wishes are and being able to develop good feelings in a reciprocal way, with more lasting and stable relationships.
A well understood commitment is born from the union of interests and tastes , and also from the tenderness that both people profess.

3. Slavery

If we want to be happier, Bauman’s sentence,
we have to be inspired by two universal values: freedom and security . To avoid slavery is to recognize that the two values mentioned must coexist in harmony. That is the key to love and one of the maxims for a sentimental couple to function.

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