How do you know it’s love? What can Anne of Green Gables teach us about love in the 21st century?

October 06, 2017
How do you know it’s love?  What can Anne of Green Gables teach us about love in the 21st century?
Scott Webb
Mint MedleyGeorgia by Vance Joy

Dear Erica,

How do you know it’s love?  What are the signs?  All the men I’ve met in real life and online seem to disappoint me or leave me thoroughly unimpressed.

Unsure in Uxbridge

Dear Unsure in Uxbridge,

You may not find Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series next to Jane Eyre at the bookstore. In fact, it would most likely be relegated to the teen literature department. But, Anne’s prickly relationship with Gilbert has to be considered one of the best literary love stories, and provides a number of lessons for us modern day women. What true romantic was not intrigued by Anne’s feisty rivalry with Avonlea heartthrob Gilbert Blythe? Their initial bickering evolved into a warm and affectionate friendship that had you rooting for them from the the first time he called her “Carrots”. However, when he professed his love for her, she turned him away because he did not fit her romantic ideal. Dreaming of drama and adventure, she left home to find a romantic hero, only to find everything she wanted could be found in her small hometown and in the friend she had foolishly brushed aside.

LM Montgomery writes, “Perhaps, after all, romance did not come into one’s life with pomp and blare, like a gay knight riding down; perhaps it crept to one’s side like an old friend through quiet ways; perhaps… perhaps… love unfolded naturally out of a beautiful friendship, as a golden-hearted rose slipping from its green sheath.”  Or as Erich Segal writes more bluntly, “True love comes quietly, without banners or flashing lights. If you hear bells, get your ears checked.”

In today’s world of social media, tinder, and snapchat, the options can feel limitless, and yet we seem more dissatisfied with our options than ever before.  It’s impossible to find a man or woman who ticks every box.  I suggest we throw out the boxes.  As we look for love in the twenty first century, we should do our best to avoid looking for an unrealistic romantic hero outside of our everyday world (a prince on a white horse). Those princes do exist, but are few and far between, and most are often duds in the end.  True love does not need to be noisy and dramatic.   If you are not careful, you may miss out on the real love of your life because you are too busy chasing an illusion. Your true love might not have a perfect Grecian nose and smoldering dark eyes, or the ideal degree and job that you had imagined.  But he might make you laugh, and even if he doesn’t fully appreciate your passion for good tea, he tolerates it.  Don’t overlook that childhood friend, roommate, colleague or old boyfriend who doesn’t fit into the romantic ideal you have foolishly created for yourself.  It is possible your true love is the guy at the copy machine who you see every day and don’t talk to.  Don’t forget to look for love right in front of you as you search the web for your ideal partner.

Hope that helps!