Full transcript of Benya Kraus’ TEDx Talk: What Disney Doesn’t Tell Us at TEDxYouth@ISBangkok conference.
Right click to download the MP3 audio:
Benya Kraus – Student at Tufts University majoring in International Relations
Good evening everybody. I’d like to share a little story with you.
Once upon a time there was a girl named Cinderella who lived in an abusive family. Since she was never allowed out and mice were her only friends, I think it’s safe to say she was pretty sexually frustrated.
But then one night, she snuck out to a party and she met the hottest guy ever. In the span of a couple hours, they were madly in love. And by the next morning Prince Charming’s testosterone levels were raging high. So, he chased her all over towns so they could get married and live happily ever after. This is a story that I and many of you grew up with. It was my guide on how love is and should be.
Disney taught us that love was that stir of passion inside you, the butterflies that fluttered in your tummy. But what Disney doesn’t teach us is that after a while all of that stuff disappears and instead of getting her happily ever after, 10 years down the road Cinderella is actually stuck with this… and this…
I’m just a 17-year-old high school girl. I’ve never gotten married, had a family of my own or really have that much experience on the dating field myself. But in my 17 years, I´ve seen Huffington Post report that 10.6% of the adult U.S population is or has been divorced. I have seen Kim Kardashian marry Kris Humphries and then break up 72 days later. I´ve seen Brittney Spears marry her high school sweetheart for a record of 55 hours. I’ve seen my best friend’s family crumbled from the devastating divorce. I’ve seen affairs happen right before my eyes. And I’ve seen that distance look between parents who try to make it seem like everything is OK, when in reality they don’t even sleep in the same bed anymore.
I may be 17, but I know that love is not like how it is in fairy tales. In fact, in the United States more than 1 million children each year experience the breakup of their families. According to sociologist Andrew J. Cherlin, what a significant but the contemporary American family compare to that of any other nation is their combination of frequent marriage-frequent divorce. According to Time magazine, there are more partners in the personal lives of Americans than in the lives of people of any other western country.
So why does this happen? If love is still death do us part, then why does it just go away? Perhaps it is because of the new way society has taught us to define love.
“You can´t stop thinking about the person”
“Whenever you see them, you will just be happy”
“And you never get like bored being around them”.
“Excitement I guess and happiness. Like, it’s supposed to make you feel really good”.
“It’s what makes you happy”.
“Lovely and happy”
“You always smile to yourself.”
“It feels like candy exploding in my mouth with sour stuff coming out”.
All the romantic comedies, celebrity gossip, reality TV shows, they teach us that love consists of passion or as Kevin says : “that candy in your mouth”. No one ever films the boring stable relationships. Today’s media glamorizes that feeling of nausea, that tingly sensation, that constant obsession, that inability to think of anything else except for that person. Kind of makes love sound like cocaine? And if we buy into [Cassias] teachings and believe that: “your love is my drug”, then how can it ever be sustainable and long lasting? Because like a drug, passion has its highs and lows. It’s there one moment and gone the next.
The problem in today’s society is that we confuse love with passion. We are taught to believe that a healthy relationship is one steaming with passion. Our partners suppose to make us happy 24/7 and if things aren’t constantly fun and easy, well then that’s not a good relationship. The truth, though, is that no one can make us happy all the time. As human we’re not perfect, so why do we expect our partner to be?
Another question, what do we consider to be love? The Department of Psychology at Stony Brook University has conducted research to tell us that love goes through many phases. Studies of brain scans tells that dopamine, the chemical representing passionate love, is at its highest levels at the beginning and final stages of a relationship. Or in other words, “the honeymoon phase and the time when the kids finally leave the house”.
But what happens in the middle? Do you just stop loving each other once your relationship has established its predictable routine? According to Stony Brook University, the answer is no. Instead, love takes on a new form. The dopamine levels start to decrease as it is physically impossible for any human being to maintain such a high level of dopamine all the time. And instead it turns into companionate love, that’s the kind of love we associate with intimacy, the closeness and comfort that results from a routine and stable relationship.
However, when the passionate love fades away, we are socially wired to say: “Hey! Something is wrong here. This isn’t like how it is in The Notebook! When does Ryan Gosling run after me and kiss me in the rain?” We take the stability and lack of passion as signs that our relationship is no longer positive, that we no longer are in love. And we give up.
This is not to say that passion is not an important part in a relationship. Passion plays an extremely important role. But it is also a common myth to believe that once passion disappears there is no way of getting it back. Because that’s the thing with passionate love. It’s so inconsistent, it comes and goes, in flashes and spurts but companionate love, that’s the love that stays, that’s the love that can handle the fights, the routine boredom, the little annoyances. But the problem is, we leave before we give it a chance.
I don’t know all the answers to love. I mean I’m figuring it out as I go. But I think love is more than just that butterfly feeling. Because unlike that butterfly feeling, real love doesn’t go away. I mean, sure it changes, it gets hard and sometimes things really suck, but you stick with it. Because no matter how frustrated they make you, at the end of the day they are the only person who understands you, who listens to you when they have no idea what advice to give, who gets your pathetic sense of humor, when no one else seems to.
I may be only 17, but I know that this… and this… and this… this is what real love is. Companionate love, that’s the love that counts. Passionate – well, that’s only a part of it. Passion does not guarantee a happily ever after. Happy endings only happen when you work for it and give companionate love a chance. If only Disney taught us this.