Giovanna Truong

What is love? For most Yale students, it’s a lot like men’s heavyweight crew: foreign and out of reach. None of us are here because we had successful romantic relationships in high school. (If you did, spare the rest of our superiority complexes the cognitive dissonance and don’t tell us about it) But there is hope! Instead of gaining any practical experience in romance, we can do what we do best in a liberal arts education and boil down complexities into academic schema dreamt up by the familiar authority of old white men. So throw on your favorite crew neck sweater, sit in a wood paneled room, sip a frothy coffee and take notes from our very own father of emotional intelligence — President Peter Salovey. From his biannual guest lecture in PSYC 110, I present to you his lesson in love.

So what is SaLOVEy? According to him, it’s quite literally a triangle. The first corner of this model is the concept of intimacy. No, not fornication. Salovey defines intimacy as something much more thrilling: the vulnerability of exposing your most guarded feelings, otherwise known as sharing secrets. With entire societies dedicated to being secretive, I argue most Yale students have expertly pinned down this corner of love. I mean, what is Skull and Bones if not coordinated emotional orgies with networking benefits? Therefore, if you’ve ever drunkenly told your FroCo about your last hookup, had icebreaker games at club meetings get a little too real, or boldly revealed that you are only a moderate liberal in your Marxist literature section, congratulations! You’ve achieved one of the three angles of love.

But evidently, sharing the deepest, darkest parts of ourselves is not enough to be in love. This brings us to the second corner of our triangle. Passion. If Edward Cullen is the representation of intimacy, passion is most definitely Jacob when he takes his shirt off. In more technical terms, passion is defined as anything that gets your panties in a twist. You may experience this funny phenomenon while at Woads or on Tinder, and while watching the Whiffenpoofs perform. Passion is when you make eye-contact with someone wearing a YSIG quarter zip. It’s all the times you’ve searched Yale student facebook or when you go to office hours because you know the hot athlete will be there. It’s when first-years see Josh Beasley in their dining hall or when literally anyone sees Nathan Chen in their dining hall. Thus even if buried deep down, I’d argue that Yale students aren’t lacking in passion.

Sometimes, if we’re lucky we get intimacy and passion at the same time. This might look like a hookup where you actually have a conversation past your major, college, class schedule and what you want to watch on Netflix. It’s when you connect with someone at a frat over your ER&M reading. Or the Tinder date you ended up really vibing with but dropped because it “wouldn’t look good” when you decide to run for office. It’s the hot person in your FroCo group you spent Camp Yale “getting to know” or all those cuties in your niche clubs who you MUST share common interests with. Therefore, emotional intimacy and passion at Yale may coexist more than we are inclined to believe.

So what are we missing? In my opinion, Salovey’s last piece to his triangular puzzle is the most insightful. Commitment. In his words, we don’t have love unless we say we have it. But why is this so hard for us at Yale? While we incessantly discuss love in our YPU debates and YDN articles, what stops us from committing to the idea of manifesting it? While we aren’t here because we had successful love lives in high school, we are here because we successfully convinced an admissions officer, (and probably ourselves) that we had everything all figured out. This intrinsically provides a problem for us in attempting to understand something for which there is no right answer. Thus, we must attempt to dissociate the versions of ourselves that got into Yale from the versions of ourselves that are trying to find love. Sorry Salovey, we can’t reduce it to a triangle. It may be more like an octagon. Or maybe it even exists in three dimensional space. The point is that we will never know. Let’s stop trying to figure out what love is before testing it out.

What does this mean in practical terms? Ask that awkward cutie in your book-binding group for their number only to get rejected by someone in your book-binding group. Fall in love with someone on Tinder and grapple with whether you should tell your grandma or run for office. Text that hookup who shares your passion for Rick and Morty and see if they want to just watch Netflix. Break the rules we make for ourselves out of fear of doing it wrong, or looking like an inexperienced idiot. You will look like an inexperienced idiot, because that is what you are and what you will continue to be far into the future. I think. But who am I? Only a fellow idiot writing an article instead of going to Valenwoads, dreaming up a synthetic picture of love based off of a few rogue experiences. In reality I, like you, don’t really know what the fuck is going on.

Maya Weldon | maya.weldon@yale.edu