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Five Lies You’ve Been Told About Love

Does love actually not cost a thing? Is it really just puppy love? Let’s find out the truth.

The world is full of lies, and it’s hard to get through life without taking a few on board. Luckily, we’re here to sort the fact from the fiction, and find the plankton of truth in the ocean of bullshit. This week: Love! Is it really all you need? Are lovebirds really that lovely? Let’s warmly embrace some facts.

Lie #1: Love Don’t Cost A Thing

It certainly can, J-Lo (which, frankly, after three divorces, should be obvious). There seems to be no agreement on who has it better financially, singles or people in relationships, although the general consensus seems to be “not me” — those in relationships are adamant they’re broke from Ikea and houseplants, while singles are pissed off they have to pay higher gym fees.

Whichever one costs the most, though, it’s the transitions that will really get you. Entering into a relationship is expensive — that showing-off phase where you’re all excited and insist on going places and doing things, full of the joys of spring. Meanwhile, if you decide to settle down and start a family, woof, that ain’t cheap either: Last year, the average amount spent on a wedding in the U.S. was $38,700, while the average cost of raising a child is estimated at $233,610, excluding tertiary education. And exiting a relationship is extortionate, whether you’re left paying double rent on an apartment, paying through the nose for divorce lawyers or, er, shelling out for a coffin, grave plot and funeral. (Aww.)

This means the old adage, “tis better to have loved and lost than never loved at all” is also a massive lie, in financial terms at least. When it comes to money, tis better to have no sex drive, romantic yearnings or desire for companionship of any kind at any point.

Lie #2: And They Called It Puppy Love

You aren’t the liar, Paul Anka (nor are you, Donny Osmond), but the people dismissing your youthful affair as meaningless teenage infatuation by calling it “puppy love” are. Dogs feel love, and function not unlike humans hormonally, albeit capping out at about the emotional level of a human toddler. While a toddler might not have the emotional nuances of an older person — you rarely see a two-year-old being wistful — they absolutely feel love, and they feel it really strongly: For their parents, for their toys, for that goddamnable animated hog. Plus, dogs reach these full emotional capabilities while still only a few months old, making the love experienced by a puppy — or, “puppy love” — as valid as the love a child feels for its parents. So there. 

It’s not the only animal-based affection-appraising expression that could do with work, either — there’s also:

  • Love Rats. Tabloids, particularly British ones, love referring to philandering males as “love rats.” However, experiments on rats (well, voles, but go with it) have found that two-thirds of them are monogamous (like mice, who have tiny, squeaky domestic disputes), and the ones that cheat are genetically predisposed to it. The shitty thing with that, though, is the rat comparison gives jerks a bit of a get-out: “Being a dick is in my genes,” they can argue. “That’s why my dick isn’t… in my jeans.” (My apologies on every level.)
  • Lovebirds. Lovebirds are very affectionate toward one another, and tend to be monogamous, which is where their name comes from. However, they also have some fairly unromantic habits. Males vomit into their partner’s mouths, for instance, and occasionally some go feral and decapitate everyone they can decapitate, or do suicide attacks on larger birds. That’s not so romantic.
  • Lovecats. The Cure sang delightedly about whiskered affection — you could even say they were expressing their felines, whut whut whuuuuut — but cats aren’t exactly famous for their considerate relationship habits. Male cats have spiked penises, and both male and female cats are really, really promiscuous. Consensually non-monogamous relationships are on the rise, so that part doesn’t necessarily preclude romance, but the spiky dick part might.

Lie #3: I’ll Never Fall In Love Again

It’s a lovely song, but it’s simply not true: It was written in 1968 by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, both of whom have fallen in love since. Bacharach divorced actress Angie Dickinson in 1980, then married lyricist Carole Bayer Sager two years later. They divorced in 1991, and in 1993, Bacharach got married for the fourth time, to athlete Jane Hansen. 

The late Hal David became a widower in 1987 when his wife Anne died, and later remarried, to his now-widow Eunice. That’s three subsequent fallings in love between the pair of them, the big liars.

Lie #4: Love Is Everything

It’s a lovely sentiment, Ariana Grande, and if there’s one thing there just aren’t enough of, it’s Christmas songs. But what about in tennis? Eh? What about in tennis, damn it? In tennis, love is nothing, and nothing is literally the opposite of everything, meaning this is such a lie. “Love” means zero in tennis (and bridge, and other pastimes Grande is just disregarding) possibly for the unlikely-sounding reason that a zero looks a bit like an egg, which in French is l’oeuf, and that sounds a bit like “love.”

Nobody is entirely sure — it might also come from the Dutch/Flemish word lof, meaning “honor.” There’s also the idea it might just be the word “love” — by the time it was used in tennis in the 1700s, the expression “for love nor money” was in fairly wide use, so at a stretch you can see the two being treated as opposites: money as points, love as none. Or — and the Oxford English Dictionary believes this theory, despite it sounding dumb as a butt — that a player who is yet to score is just there because they flippin’ like it so, so much. 

Either way, for a tennis player, love is nada.

Lie #5: All You Need Is Love

It’s a lovely idea, The Beatles, but love doesn’t appear even once on the list of essential requirements for life — sunlight, water, air, habitat, food — and if you weren’t liars, it would be the only thing on there. It also doesn’t show up anywhere on the National Park Service’s list of items deemed essential for survival. 

Love is certainly nice, but in a life-or-death situation on a hike gone awry, you’re better off being a detestable shithead equipped with basic safety gear than you are carrying nothing but the knowledge that someone thinks you’re really special.