But to solve the afflictions of our culture, we do not need to give up on the principle of choice altogether. Instead, we must dare to choose the unknown, to take uncalculated risks and be vulnerable. By ‘vulnerability’ I do not mean the coquettish exposure of weaknesses meant to test the compatibility between you and your date. My plea is for existential vulnerability, for the re-mystification of love into what it essentially is: an unpredictable force that usually catches you unawares.
So. Make loud love proposals. Move in with someone before feeling completely ready for it. Have a child when the timing seems bad
If the understanding of maturity as self-sufficiency is so detrimental to the way we love under the Regime of Choice, then it is precisely this understanding that needs to be reconsidered. To become truly adult, we need to embrace the unpredictability that loving someone other than ourselves entails. We should dare to cross those personal boundaries and run one step ahead of ourselves; not at a Russian pace, maybe, but just slightly quicker than we are used to.
So. Make loud love proposals. Move in with someone before feeling completely ready for it. Grumble at a partner for no reason and have that person grumble back, just like that, because we are human. Have a child when the timing seems bad. And finally, we need to re-claim our right to pain. Let us dare to agonise about love. As Brené Brown, a sociologist studying vulnerability and shame at the University of Houston, suggests, perhaps ‘our capacity for whole-heartedness can never be greater than our willingness to be broken-hearted’. Rather than obsessing over the integrity of our selves, we need to learn to give parts of that self to others – and acknowledge, finally, that we are dependent on each other, even if a Seventeen columnist might call it co-dependent.