Love in the time of elections

There are times in Turkey where I read the local news online and wonder if I’ve been duped. The headlines and content of the news can be so absurd I find myself scrolling through the website looking for the disclaimer saying:  “This an onion.”

An onion piece is a satirical news article based on factual events. They’re often good for a giggle and say the things we wish to say in our world full of injustice.

When this headline appeared on my Facebook newsfeed I clicked on it it with curiosity.

Davutoğlu promises to find spouses for unmarried if AK Party is elected

It had to be an onion right? Davutoğlu, the leader of the AK political party was offering to set up weddings for those who elect him in the snap elections on November 1?

Then I saw the news source…

Today’s Zaman – a reputable and rather serious English-language daily based in Turkey.

Nope, no onion piece here…this news was true!

Free husbands and wives for all if you vote for AKP!? Can you be serious?

Apparently you can.

So cancel your OKCupid accounts people…AKP have got this.

The news has sent us single yabancı (foreign) ladies into a “joking” frenzy online as we conjure up our perfect mate in Turkey.

Our conclusion is:

He must have the eyes of Burak Özçivit

LoveLifeIstanbul özçivit

The hair of Engin Akyürek

Love Life Istanbul -engin-akyurek

The smile of Yiğit Özşener

LoveLifeIstanbul yigitozsener

The body of Kıvanç Tatlıtuğ

LoveLifeIstanbul full-kivanc-tatlitug

And, if he insists on having a moustache, then let it look like Burak Özçivit‘s too!

love life istanbul moustache

He must like to read like Kenan İmirzalıoğlu

 

And swim like Çağatay Ulusoy

LoveLifeIstanbul cagatay-ulusoy

 And…. I’m sorry what was I saying?

LoveLifeIstanbulWhatwasIsaying

Oh yes, he must show concern for me like Tolgahan Sayısman

LoveLifeIstanbul Tolgahan Sayısman

And when we fight, look angry at me like Burak Hakki

LoveLifeIstanbul burak-hakki

And when we make up, welcome me home like Mehmet Akif Alakurt

LoveLifeIstanbul Mehmet Akif

But most of all he must have the humour of Yılmaz Erdoğan

 LoveLifeIstanbul yilmaz-erdogan

And the sense of adventure like Engin Altan Düzyatan

LoveLifeIstanbul Engin-Akyurek

Though, let’s get serious. Who are we kidding? If political parties are doing the matchmaking and we’re after an adventurous guy with a sense of humour…

…..

…..

…..

…..

…..

…..

…..

this might be the best we get!

Recep-İvedik-4-Resimleri-31

(Sahan Gökbakar as Recep Ivedik, 2008)

2 ways to love in Turkey

Love Life Istanbul 3I recently caught up with an ex-boyfriend. A Turkish guy I had an on-again / off-again relationship with over four years. Whilst we couldn’t make it work as lovers, he remains one of my closest friends and confidants. We have a mutual respect and support one another in times of need.  He’s my go–to guy to help interpret the Turkish world around me. He’s been excellent at this role. That was, up until now.

You see, our last meeting at his house  slid into a conversation about our former relationship, which broke up over a year ago.  We questioned what went wrong and what went right. He eventually asked me, “Do you think we would have made a good couple?”

“Do you?” I replied encouraging him to dive in to the topic first.

“Well,” he paused, “I guess, I really, really liked you. I didn’t love you.”

My Western-made heart dropped. A heart that understood love as everything we had experienced in our relationship. It plunged into a pool of anger deep in my gut that could have splashed him with a wave of expletives.

Love to me was this: 10 lessons about love. That’s what we had.

Nonetheless, I snapped, “What do you mean you didn’t love me?”

“I really liked you.” He responded.

“No, that’s not possible. What do you mean exactly?” I snapped again, never satisfied with his brief answers whilst my heart was furious. I started to roll off the names our mutual male friends from my spiteful tongue. “I like Serkan. I like Erhan. But, I don’t love them like I loved you.” We both paused, with him looking as though he realised our difference of opinion.  I added, “So are you telling me that for four years I was I just a friend?”

He cut in trying to save himself. “No, no, no. That’s not what I mean. You don’t understand. Like is better than love. Love is really romantic. Love is where you don’t see each other’s errors.  Where you’re passionate all the time. You’re not confused.” He even closed his eyes mimicking the words, “Love is when you’re blind to each other’s errors.” He then added, “We saw each other’s errors. We weren’t romantic all the time.” Now sensing my growing resentment, he cut himself off and concluded. “Trust me like is just better than love in a relationship.”

“I still don’t understand. Isn’t romance and passion, part of being in love? To me, we were in love because we did see each other errors and we worked to overcome them. That is love to me.”

I sat in silence, sulking, for a long time trying to think of the words to bring this topic to an end. I was facing a reality that after all this time – he just “liked” me! The feeling stirred in me for a while, but I noticed his body language was trying to reach out to me – probably in an effort to break my silence.  His forwardness and eventual assertion to invite me to stay to watch a movie confused me. I was now curious about these mixed messages. As he started the film and I contemplated leaving, a thought dawned on me. Was our conversation lost in translation?

I asked, with new-found hope, “Ok, so let’s just clarify. What is the Turkish word for like …for you?”

“Sevmek.” He replied.

“And what, is love?” I continued – although I knew the answer.

“Aşk.”

I decided to leave it at that. Knowing that later, as an avid researcher, I would seek out the difference. After all, I had seen loving words and phrases with sev and aşk used interchangeably in relationships, and to be honest, I never questioned their difference.

Seni seviyorum = I love you

Sevgilim = my love

Aşkım  = my love

Didn’t they all refer to, “love”? Now I was curious about the difference.

Later, when I got home, I did what any normal person would do lost in the language of a foreign world. I consulted Google translate.

I typed: Sevmek 

Like appeared on the screen.

Then I typed: Aşk

Love.

Dam! He was right. In defiance I concluded that Google Translate for Turkish and English was rarely accurate. I had to delve deeper. I Googled the corresponding nouns.

Love life Istanbul 1

Scanning through the results, I read things about sevgi being an affectionate love between friends or between parents and children, whilst aşk was a romantic love. My heart didn’t lift. So, I kept surfing in my quest to define love in Turkey.

Finally, TurkishClass.com had a forum where someone was equally confused:

Love Life Istanbul 2

My point exactly. “What?” I was struggling with Turkish, let alone Greek! So now, I’m more curious. I Google: “eros and agape” and I have a little breakthrough with this page:

Four Kinds of Love; Eros, Agape, Phileo & Storge on the blog, Eros to Agape: Moving more deeply into loving relationships.

On this page, eros (aşk) was defined as:

“A love felt particularly within the body (trembling excitement, elation, joy), coloured and underpinned by deep and beautiful procreative urges.”

“….Eros is a state of the heart and while it is intimately related to sex, sex can exist, and often does exist, without Eros enlivening it. It leads to children, family, joy and laughter. It is good and right, but it is usually not enough to sustain a relationship long term.”

Well that started off sounding nice but ended badly. So I read agape (sevgi):

“Agape – Is more of a parental, mature, sacrificial kind of love. The Thayer Lexicon describes agape beautifully when it says “to take pleasure in the thing, prize it above all other things, be unwilling to abandon it or do without it.” In a way it is as idealistic as Eros, in that it is a crazy love that will not let go. Agape loves, usually at cost to the bearer. Agape puts the beloved first and sacrifices pride, self-interest and possessions for the sake of that beloved.”

Oh! The penny drops. Agape does sound more like the relationship my ex and I had, and probably still have in that apparently we can’t do without each other. Our love was mature. It wasn’t fleeting. It wasn’t unfulfilling as the Eros to Agape blog defined eros. I knew that eros doesn’t last and that’s what made him different to other relationships I had.

I kept searching to validate this research, and saw sevgi referred to a love between lovers. Then these quotes sealed my new-found understanding:

Sevgi last forever even if aşk ends.”

And, my favourite:

“A man who says aşkım may be talking about his love for a pretty blonde, but not the blonde herself.”

Now, I get it. In Turkish, like (sevgi) is better than love (aşk). Aşk is more about lust. It’s an erotic love that ends – like a fleeting romance. Sevgi is a higher love. It’s unconditional and lasting. Whilst English doesn’t seem to have two words to differentiate between the types of love we experience, Turkish does.

My ex and I were lost in translation. Whilst he failed beautifully in his attempt to label our relationship using English words, the words in Turkish made complete sense – and were actually quite sweet. I completely saw his point.

With my research closed, I rang my ex. He re-confirmed the difference and how he felt. I joked, “Google Translate has a lot of explaining to do!” I apologised for my anger and, instead, thanked him for his honesty and kind “words”.

Hanging up the phone, I joked to myself:

Remind me never to aşk about love again!

10 lessons about love

Love

For 32 years of my life I was a hopeless singledom. Bridget Jones was my idol.

In my twenties, I chose the unavailable commitment phobes like Daniel Cleaver and grieved when it wouldn’t work out. I would rush head strong into relationships that fizzled as the excitement soon wore off, because I had thrown everything about myself to them in the first two weeks. Mark Darcy-types never got a look in because they were ‘safe’ and the Daniel Cleavers of the world seemed far more exciting.

In my early thirties I believed love wasn’t possible for me. Love was a privilege for other people and so I decided to just be with me and love me – and enjoy that. That’s when I met my Mark Darcy and he taught me lessons in love.  Years later, these are the 10 things I have learnt about love:

1. Love is taking a risk and changing your life to complement the needs of another.

2. Love is tender, respectful kisses on the forehead.

3. Love is lying in green grass in the sun, with no words – just holding hands.

4. Love is by your side in times of trouble and not walking out the door. Love stays.

5. Love is shedding a tear when the other is in pain.

6. Love is having your absolute worst, most embarrassing moment – that you wish no one would ever witness – and you hear, “I love you!”

7. Love is revealing your beliefs and inner soul, that could be controversial or disliked, and you hear, “I like that about you.”

8. Love is phone calls with some text messages – not text messages with no phone calls.

9. Love doesn’t mean you have to hang from the chandeliers… all the time.

10. Love is revealing one page at a time about yourself to keep them reading.

No one can know what happens next, but these are lessons that will stay with me for life. What are your lessons about love?