Philosophy for Disappointed Romantics

Updated: Mar 12, 2019

By Stacy Li

Illustration by Nicole Medina

Stacy is the president of a Temple University student group called the Babel Poetry Collective. I heard about this group through my boyfriend, who happened to see one of their performances and was blown away. Stacy shared this beautiful piece that literally made me cry on a subway platform.


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Someone’s mother once said, “Don’t expect anything from love.”

I hope they meant to say

If you do things for your loved one, thinking

“I expect this investment to pay dividends

In back rubs and notes tucked in pockets”

If you do things

expecting specific surprises in return,

Capitalism wins.

Young love stays full of specific surprises

The unannounced Grubhub delivered to your doorstep

Once diamonds run dry, communication takes over

Grocery-listing your desires may expire surprise

Leaving you to confront

unfurling infinite need

Is love an exchange of goods? Or is it

The cusp of selflessness ringing through the years

A sound immaterial yet realer than anything eyes can detect

My mother once said, “Don’t expect anything from love”

Perhaps you should hold expectations

Like respect and autonomy. Not 100% autonomy

If you’re living together it’s 65% maximum

When raising a child it’s much less

In love, you can expect to surrender defensive, broken parts

Withering under your loved one’s pain

You can expect to rise

You can expect nothing else

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