My friend first heard this from her father. The translation is “To love from afar is love for idiots.”
My friend initially interpreted this proverb as a criticism on being unable to act on emotions for another person. To “love from afar,” as in, to love without actually confessing it to the person, is love for idiots.” She’s learned, however, that the proverb is more often used in context of long-distance relationships. So being geographically far from your significant other and choosing to continue to love them is foolish. My friend doesn’t have a particular significance attached to this proverb, but she did think that it was rather interesting.
I agree with my friend’s understanding of the proverb, though I wonder if other people beyond her do think of the proverb in the same sense that she originally thought of it (with “love from afar” being similar to “love within the mind”). I find it interesting that this proverb discourages love if it’s from a distance. It suggests that there is a belief that a relationship is only wise or legitimate if it’s grounded in physical reality. I’m not entirely sure why that would be the case, but perhaps love was often presumed to be associated with marriage. So a real relationship should be properly consummated, either through sex, marriage, or person-to-person interaction.
This proverb has also seemed to regain some significance with the advent of the internet. Maybe the idea of a “long-distance relationship” through webcamming is still considered unwise by most people in this community. If that’s the case, then this Mexican proverb affirms that the idea of physicality is essential to romantic relationships (as a college student in the United States, I hear comments about the futility of long-distance relationships often, and a proverb like this seems particularly fitting for that situation), and that this way of thinking is important to multiple cultures.
We were consoling a mutual friend when I first heard my informant use this phrase. The friend’s girlfriend had just broken up with him and she had been his first serious relationship. He was heartbroken and it was a few weeks later. All this friend had talked to us about in the past few weeks was the breakup. We were having a conversation in a larger group and talking about a TV show that had been cancelled even though everyone had loved it. My informant simply said, “All good things end.” Then he looked at our friend and the three of us chuckled a little bit; the rest of the group didn’t know why but we all knew my informant was also talking about our friend’s relationship. Even though he was still depressed about the failure of said relationship, the friend found the situation funny because of how my informant had clearly intended his comment to apply to the relationship as well as the TV show.
My informant can’t remember where he first heard the phrase or if he simply created it, though I have heard it elsewhere as well, but he likes it because by stating this property of the world as a fact, it makes something difficult easier to accept. I agree with that interpretation. People want to hold onto the past, but life keeps changing and everything is ephemeral. It’s one of the hardest aspects of reality to accept. Packaging it up into a succinct expression and serving it to someone makes it seem simpler, more understandable. It shows us that we must accept that the world works this way.
In the Greek system when a sorority and a fraternity member are in a serious romantic relationship the fraternity guy can pin his girlfriend. Every system has different variations of the same basic tradition. Basically, when the guy wants to pin his girl friend he tells the president of his house who tells the president of the sorority that the girlfriend is in. They keep it a secret from the girlfriend while planning the pinning. Then one night after the chapter meeting, when the entire house is present the president will announce to the sorority to head downstairs to the dining room for a special ceremony. Right away everyone knows that its a pinning. All the girls make a large circle in the dining room and turn the lights down low. The president lights a candle and it is passed around the room and passed past the girl getting pinned, once it passes her the candle switches direction and moves back towards the girl to be pinned. Once the girl has it in her hand her sisters to her left and right blow the candle out, the house claps.
Once this happens the president opens the door and members of the boyfriends fraternity come in one by one usually dressed in suits, each with a single rose in their hand. Each brother hands the rose to the girlfriend and gives her a smile and a hug. Lastly the boyfriend comes usually with a bouquet of roses and kisses his girlfriend. Next the two closest friends of the boyfriend and the girlfriend tell stories about the relationship between them, funny, serious, anecdotal etc. Lastly the boyfriend tells his girlfriend how much he loves her and gives her his fraternity pin as a symbol of his commitment to her and her official invitation into the fraternitys family. This is the end of the ceremony, however each fraternity has a different variation of this basic ceremony.
I have witnessed 3 girls get pinned from my sorority in this past year. The particular pinning described above was the most formal and respectful. The other pinnings were less formal and frankly, more embarrassing for the girl. Because each house cultivates its own traditions each pinning will differ depending on the house. To pin your girlfriend was once synonymous with proposing; however with time it has lost a lot of that connotation.
Currently, when a girl is pinned it means that her boyfriend is putting her first in his life. He is putting her before the brotherhood, which is a very big step for any fraternity brother. When initiated brothers take a vow of allegiance to the fraternity and pinning is one of the ways to respectfully break the vow. Also, symbolized by the rose received by each brother, when a girl is pinned she is welcomed into the house, into the family of that particular fraternity. Usually only juniors or seniors are pinned. The couple has usually been dating for more than a year as well. Pinnings dont happen unless the relationship is very serious and long term.
Pinning is a public display of affection and commitment accepted in the Greek community and an active tradition. For sororities pinning usually embodies the girlish fantasy of a wonderful boyfriend who isnt afraid to show how he feels, and secretly, every girl wants to be pinned at some point.