Is there a “Love of my Life”?

Film Review: “Falling in Love” (1984).

A bit of a departure for me as this is an older film, didn’t last long in theaters, got mediocre reviews and now only appears occasionally on late night flick cable. Much like the characters in the film, I stumbled into it last night reading some journals. The TV was on providing background noise and I wasn’t paying any attention to it until I was drawn in.

The film stars Meryl Streep and Robert Di Nero as happily married (not to each other) upscale New Yorkers going about their life as usual. They bump into each other exiting the door of a book store each laden with Christmas gifts. Each inadvertently picks up a gift package the other had purchased. Months later, Di Nero happens upon Streep again on a commuter train, vaguely remembers her and remarks about the wrong gifts.

This completely spontaneous and random collusion then sets about changing their lives. They connect in some unexplainable fashion and start to find reasons to see each other again. Innocently at first, but they both know what’s happening and are helpless to stop it. The viewer can feel the resistance coupled with the inevitability. Slowly but progressively the viewer is drawn in with them rushing headlong to the self-fulfilling prophesy. The intensity of the bond renders them helpless. (That’s all you get – no more spoilers).

A quote from the story line:

(Meryl Streep): “No, I think about him every day. Last thought before I fall asleep and first thought when I wake up. I talk to myself all day about him, even when I’m talking to somebody else, even when I’m talking to you now I’m talking to myself about him. Brian thinks I’m ill, he thinks that it has to do with my father, he thinks the stress and, you know, all that… Thinks I’m having a breakdown, but I’m not, there’s nothing wrong with me. Except that I love him”.

This fascinating story, immaculately performed, especially by the greatest actress of our generation, Meryl Streep, explores some interesting social issues, specifically that of “falling in love”, which has radically changed in the new millennium.

In antiquity, marriage had little to do with love. It was business arrangement whereby two people became better equipped to survive in a hostile world and protect the few children that survived birth to self-reliance. The hormonal urge to marry was built into the genome as a facilitation to get people together who would normally kill each other on sight. Now, the necessity of the male to fight the wolf from the door and the female to maintain home and hearth has all but vanished. The genome still insists the necessity of marriage, but after the hormones drain away, the genetic imperative doesn’t define longevity. It exists only to bring together. Once that happens, the couple is pretty much on their own. So what we see now is an insistent hormonal imperative to marry, marked by recurring cycles of burnout and re-awakening.

Hollywood personalities tearfully declare they are joined at the hip with the suitor-de-jour and cannot conceive of life without each other followed by tearful requests to respect their privacy as they part six months later. Frequently, the intensity of the original bonding is equally matched by that of the breakup. Jon & Kate plus Hate.

Part of this has to do with the relatively new emergence of females who have little or no need for men. They no longer feel the nesting urge as intensely as they might have in times past and statistics show they are waiting longer to marry and marrying older.

Quote from Bryan Sykes, Professor of Genetics at Oxford University and author of “Adam’s Curse: A Future Without Men.”

“The Y chromosome is passed from father to son, it’s what makes babies into boys. Basically the human template is a female: the Y chromosome kicks in a few weeks after conception and makes a boy. “Men are genetically modified women,” explained Sykes. But unlike other chromosomes, the Y chromosome can’t repair itself and will, says Sykes, disappear altogether in about 125,000 years”.

“Every generation one percent of men will have a mutation which reduces their fertility by 10 percent,” explained Sykes. Unlike most chromosomes, the Y does not travel through the generation in pairs, so can never repair itself from a mirror. Flaws are never repaired. “So if that goes on for generation after generation,” Sykes argued, “eventually there are no functioning Y chromosomes left.”
“So no more men … sparsely populated sports bars, Ferrari would lose the lion’s share of its business, and Hooters would probably go out of business”.

There are now more females in the work force than males. Medical and Law School classes are approaching a female majority. It seems possible that social evolution favors females and some scholars have predicted the possibility that men may become extinct, or evolve to Charlie Sheen. Impotent bluster.

Highly recommended by me as an intensely thought provoking, interesting and superbly performed film that deserved better. You can probably find it on DVD or Netflix. You can also easily download the Torrent off The Pirate Bay.

I give it four of five Meryl Streep smiles.

FL, I love your movie reviews. This one is particularly interesting. Do you really think it actually happens in real life that two people bump into each other in a bookstore and become instantly connected for life?

Sure. It probably happens every day. No one ever “connects” with a potential lover consciously, which is why dating services don’t work. The ingredients of a “connection” continue to mystify the most imaginative poets. I suspect there is a template inside everyone’s unconscious brain, built by genetics and experience that spells out “the love of your life”. Everyone applies that template to everyone they come in contact with, like the range finder inside a camera. Most are rejected. When all of the points click, or even a majority of them, that’s the person that gets the interest. The conscious mind doesn’t comprehend how the points are spatially constructed, but definitely takes instructions from the click. If it clicks solidly enough, a jack hammer can’t shake it.

All of which begs the question of whether there is one true person you are destined to be with for life.

The answer is probably yes, just like there is probably someone else in the world that looks just like you. A much bigger question is how long that one true person will be the love of your life. Psychologists say that a person changes his or her personality completely about every seven years and I believe that. It is pretty shaky that the love of your life at station zero will necessarily be the same love of your life at station seven, and highly improbable at station 14. The probability they are is no better than chance.

This is borne out every day in the entertainment media. Every one of the following list loudly and publicly declared their partner-de-jour was the love of their live till the end of time and beyond. These are just the ones I can think of off the cuff:


That said, the LOYL probably does exist somewhere. As I sit here, I know several couples that have been married for a very long time and are totally devoted to each other. My father met my step-mother in 1969 and married her in 1970. They were never separated for more than a few hours at a time for the rest of his life (died in 2008). To this day she sits and cries every day, rarely going out of the house. It’s depressing to call her on his birthday.

What is the probability that you will get that deal? Possibly up through station 7, unlikely to make it past station 14. Look at the statistics.

Aren’t you glad you’re a member of CCM-L for this fascinating information on Sundays 🙂

David Crippen, MD, FCCM

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