The youth rebellion of 68’ led to a decade of free love and sex. People were convinced that the more freedom the better. Free love was the ideal and Sex was practiced with everybody and their friend. You were not allowed to react emotionally when your borders were overstepped, emotions were delegated to a shameful bourgeois upbringing. The fact that people’s desires may be in opposition to each other was ignored. We also thought that we liberated ourselves from all rules and doctrines because we discarded old rules and doctrines.
Then we all got wiser and found that we had just replaced the old rules and doctrines with our own new ones being just as strict towards people who did not adhere to them. We realized that free love can hurt a lot of people on a deep level. Slowly it dawned on us that freedom as an absolute value is not to be worshipped, and that individual responsibility is a value to be conserved.
There was a lack of a language to define the paradoxes and nuances associated with free love. We were still only able to talk about it in terms of who owned who or who didn’t own who. That everything was either free or restricted. That you were either tradition and bourgeois in your approach or you were uninhibited and free. Politically you adhered to the right wing and was despicable or you adhered to the left wing and deserved respect the more left wing you were.
There are a number of valuable lessons that we can learn from this period. And a lot of people have done so on an individual level, but on a societal level the change to a new reality still seems to drag. As a society we mostly put a distance to what happened back then. And we have failed to develop a language to describe it precisely.
Individually people benefit from many of the experiences. Many people are living a very different love life from the one their parents lived. And there are many more choices and thereby variety than there was 30 years ago. But due to the societal refusal of discussing and evaluating the whole experience people mostly exploit the many possibilities in a secret manner. They may experiment with a more varied sex life but not tell any of their friends about it. They may have more than one partner and not tell anybody about it. They may live one kind of life on the outside and a completely different life behind the scenes.
This secretive approach is not likely to continue for ever and the more we develop and use a new and nuanced language of love, the more we can make the norms of society meet the actions of people.
The advantage of a more nuanced language of love is that we find out that there is not only one definition of love or one way to have a love life, there are many ways. The next thing we realize is that it is important to find out what kind of love life you want and then to start looking for a possible partner among people who feel similar to you. We also realize that it is possible to talk about many aspects of love and sex and become wiser about our own preferences. These preferences may change over a life time as we change as individuals and there again we need a nuanced language of love and desires to help us manage the change in ourselves and in relationships.
A more detailed and nuanced language of love and passion is needed to give this precious element between people called love the best conditions to flourish.