Love, or in love with love?
*SPOILERS AHEAD FOR MASTER OF NONE SEASON TWO*
You know when the whole world (or Twitter at least) is talking about a show, and you put off watching, and put off watching, because you’ve got so many other shows to watch on your list and surely it can’t be THAT good…
And then one bored evening you watch the first episode, because why the hell not, and within two days you’ve finished off all the available seasons?
Yeah, I had that with Master of None on Netflix.
I finished season two a couple of days ago and I haven’t stopped going on about it since.
Now what has this got to do with love, and dating, you might well ask.
Well as you may know, Master of None’s writer and star Aziz Ansari has written a book on modern day love, called Modern Romance: An Investigation, and season two has some very clever takes on dating culture and dating apps in particular.
But what I want to talk about is the finale, and specifically, one particular moment in that finale.
It comes after – spoiler alert – Francesca (Alessanda Mastronardi) tells Dev (Ansari) that she doesn’t want to throw away her life in Italy to be with him, to paraphrase bluntly.
We see Dev downhearted in a bar with his best friend Arnold (Eric Wareheim), talking about the miserable situation.
Arnold gives Dev some hard truths about how even if he and Francesca did get together, it probably wouldn’t be the ‘magical fantasy’ that’s playing in his head – more likely, just a ‘shitshow’.
It’s relatable as hell for anyone who’s ever experienced unrequited love.
And it’s then that Dev/Ansari comes out with a gut-punching bit of dialogue.
‘I don’t even know if it’s about her.
‘I miss that feeling. When we were together, doing all that stuff, I felt really connected to someone.
‘It felt good. Now, I just feel fucking alone.’
It’s not really touched on again in the episode, that what Dev misses isn’t Francesca herself necessarily, but the feeling of being in love.
But the concept is something I think a lot of people can relate too. I certainly did, anyway.
I’ve always been someone who falls in love very easily. Give me a cheeky smile, some gentle teasing, tender affection, and I’m basically all yours.
But I’ve long held the suspicion that what I thought was love or at the very least a great deal of care for some of the people I have dated, was in fact just love of the feeling of being in love.
And it frankly terrifies me. Because how can you know if you’re in love with the person because of who they are, and just in love because you’re craving affection, and security?
I’m not really sure of the answer, to be quite honest with you. That's what scares me.
But thinking of when I have been in love, I think the key might be time, and an intimate knowledge of the other person.
Not wholly surprising, I know, but hear me out.
I have been head over heels crazy for a fair few people I’ve dated – only for that feeling to fade instantly when we stopped seeing each other for one reason or another.
There has been a day of tears, at most, perhaps – and then back on the apps to start dating again.
But in these cases, I had only known the guys for months.
I had gotten to know them pretty well, sure, but I didn’t know their inner workings: their cogs, their wiring, what made them the people they are today.
When I have been struck by full-blown love, it also came quickly. I told my first boyfriend I loved him within two weeks of us dating.
I know! But I did really mean it, and it proved to be the case.
However it only transformed from naive teenage love-of-being-in-love, to a deep love of that person after a large passage of time had passed, and we’d had countless shared experiences.
In Master of None, Dev falls 'in love' with Francesca in less than a month, after she comes to visit New York with her fiancé Pino.
So can he really be in love? Isn’t he just lonely, after a long period of being single, and has latched onto the first girl who’s given him attention?
Probably, you might say.
But then, no. It becomes clear later on in the episode that Dev loves Francesca for who she is, not just because she’s there.
And it makes sense. They got to know each other over three months in Italy, then conversed regularly by text and email, followed by two visits to New York by Francesca.
They may have only realised their feelings for one another – but their love is based on solid foundations, and a real intimate knowledge of one another.
Ultimately, the future may not be rosy for the pair of them (the finale leaves us on a bit of a cliffhanger).
But what they have seems to be the real deal.
For romantic types, it’s not always easy to make the distinction between real love, and love of being in love.
The only way to find out? Get to know each other, spend large chunks of time with each other, find out every annoying thing about each other.
That's the most crucial part. It's when you know someone's flaws - and love them for those imperfections rather than in spite of them - that you know you're truly in love.
It's then that you’ll know if you love them, warts and all - or you just want someone, anyone, to watch Master of None with on a Friday night.