From the archive: falling in love in the permissive society, April 1968

The Observer Magazine of 28 April 1968 (‘Falling in love’) wondered, ‘In this increasingly permissive and casual society, what are the prospects for the survival of romantic love?’

Robert Shields wrote that romantic love was ‘a state of ecstasy, of romantic sentimentality, which turns the grass greener and the sky bluer, and’ – he’d been going so well up to this point – ‘the plain, plump girl we adore into Venus herself.’

‘There is a regressive babyishness about being in love,’ he noted. ‘Even the language of the romantic phase is infantile – baby, sweetie, darling, ducky, adorable.’ Mature love, on the other hand, ‘may not have the euphoria, excitement and frenzy of the “in love” experience, which prepared the ground for it, but it carries its own calm conviction.’

There was an interview with Nancy Mitford, author of The Pursuit of Love. ‘To fall in love you have to be in the state of mind for it to take, like a disease,’ she said. ‘You have to be very much wanting it, expecting it.’

‘While making love is very delightful,’ Mitford continued in her forthright manner, ‘in fact all descriptions make it sound very off putting. Even DH Lawrence made it sound so frightfully unattractive.’

One young man described how he proposed to his fiancée after seeing Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev at Covent Garden. ‘When we got home it was 3am and there was no one we could tell at that hour so we rang Directory Inquiries and told them.’ Not quite an announcement in the Times, but it was a start…

Another young man hymned the delights of young love thus: ‘I woke up the other day at 4am and I felt this glorious sense of happiness in her presence, despite the fact that that week she was 1,500 miles away.’ The next line read: ‘The affair ended not long after Mr Hardy gave us this interview.’ Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Not necessarily for both parties.


Leave a Reply

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.