Why do our relationships last less and less? How can this way of relating affect us? Discover Zygmunt Bauman’s theory of liquid love.
Today, we are in a world where most events are transitory and everything ends up changing at breakneck speed, from the way we process information to even our relationships. In fact, Zygmunt Bauman’s theory of liquid love points precisely to this fact, that is, that our ties today tend to be more disposable, ephemeral and superficial. But why does this happen?
What is liquid love?
The sociologist and philosopher Zygmunt Bauman has suggested that in our society there is what he called ‘liquid love’. This concept points to the fact that it is increasingly visible that our relationships are shorter and more superficial. According to Bauman’s theory, relationships don’t last because we look for quick fixes, can’t tolerate uncertainty, and want quick and complete satisfaction. That is to say, love needs time and effort, something that nowadays it is increasingly difficult for us to tolerate more.
The assured and instant complacency to which we are accustomed in the consumer society has ended up causing our relationships to be affected. In fact, all the facilities that we have today are not given in love. Being so immersed in the culture of speed and instantaneity, people have more and more difficulties to face what requires extra effort and gratification later in time.
Therefore, the idea of loving ‘until death do us part’ becomes obsolete due to the type of society in which we live. This idea has been replaced by a spontaneous love, which only lasts until it requires some effort and own work to maintain it.
What is the problem with liquid relationships?
By changing the way we assume our relationships, that is, by treating love as if it were an object, this can end up affecting us emotionally and even generating anxiety due to the fear of being abandoned or discarded by the other. What at first can be perceived as extreme freedom, that is, being with the other person without conditions or ties, can end up generating a painful ambivalence (if what you are looking for is precisely a stable relationship).
Many may seek love to satisfy their needs for affection, connection, and emotional validation, but having disposable relationships takes them away from the stability and emotional bonding we may need. The thought that we should not give or work on the bond, can end up making us jump from one relationship to another, increasingly dissatisfied with our relationships.
Why does liquid love happen?
Some of the main causes for which this type of relationship or more sporadic love can happen in our current society can be the following:
Insecurity: One of the causes that can produce this type of liquid relationship is insecurity. That is, if we do not perceive ourselves as fully capable or deserving of having a deep relationship or of being loved, it is difficult for us to have a healthy bond with our partner.
Low self-esteem: Insecurity and self-esteem are two sides of the same coin. In fact, liquid love may be related to this because we are afraid of putting our emotional well-being at risk, showing ourselves to a person too quickly, which taken to the extreme can make us cold or inaccessible to others.
We don’t know each other: Dedicating enough time to ourselves today can be difficult. The reality is that by getting to know ourselves better, we can have healthier and, therefore, longer lasting relationships. In some cases, even the fact of not knowing ourselves well enough can lead us to emotional dependence, that is, to depend on the approval and vision of others to sustain our self-esteem, which ends up generating suffering and discomfort.
Social networks: The virtual world has also had a great influence on the emergence of this ephemeral love. Social networks can make us believe that love only exists when it is perfect, and this distortion of reality can affect our ability to value effort or to tolerate mistakes in the face of our partner.
Objectification: Another of the great pillars that sustains liquid love is the tendency that our society has to objectify people. That is, the tendency to perceive and value people as if they were objects or things. This objectification can also end up making us tend to have weaker ties with others.
These are some of the main causes for what Bauman calls liquid love. Even so, if you feel identified with it, perhaps you have problems in your relationships, in this case, it is important that you go to a professional psychologist.
Liquid love versus long-term love
According to Zygmunt Bauman, love relationships today are based more on physical attraction than on deep connection. Therefore, they are links that are highly influenced by the individualism of both members, in which contact is ephemeral or simply superficial. In other words, this author’s theory of liquid love focuses on the individualism that marks our societies, since it implies the constant search for the immediate satisfaction of our desires.