So, you’ve met someone that you like, and they seem to like you back. You’ve probably been dating them for a while. You might have met their parents, or slept with them. (Your partner; not their parents!) Things are going really, really well. You’re happy. Don’t be fooled – this is perfectly normal, and naturally, it won’t last. There’s something on its way to upset this unusual state of affairs. It’s the approaching fear that you might be in love with them – and the terrifying thought that they might be in love with you, too.
Knowing if you’re in love is a little bit like Schrödinger’s cat. Schrödinger was a quantum physicist and theoretical biologist who grew up in the same neighbourhood as Albert Einstein and the two were inseparable childhood friends – Schrödinger even met his wife through Einstein. However, their relationship took a tragic turn in late 1935 when Einstein went on holiday and, not fully trusting his live-in girlfriend, asked Schrödinger to look after his cat.
Schrödinger took advantage of this situation by performing an experiment that has become famous across the world, known erroneously as “Schrödinger’s Cat” (as the cat was Einstein’s) or the cat-in-the-box experiment.
In this famous experiment, Schrödinger locked the cat up in a box for a week. At the end of the week, he wasn’t sure if the cat was alive or dead. He stipulated a theory that the cat was both alive and dead inside the box. The only way to find out was to look inside the box. However, quantum mechanics dictate that he affects the outcome of the experiment by measuring it. In effect, it is by looking inside the box does he take the risk of killing the cat. If he does not look inside, the cat is potentially still alive.
So what does this have to do with knowing if you’re in love? It’s quite simple, really. Imagine your life is the box. And the cat is love. Or the other way around. At any time, you may or may not be in love. Probably, both. If you look in the box, you will either find love alive and well, or love will be dead. The secret is not to look for love. But you can’t help it, can you? You peek in the box. By peeking in the box, you’re proving that you’re in love. But the act of peeking in the box kills the love. And that, dear reader, is what catch-22 is. (It is also useful in helping to explain where pineapples come from.)
There is hope, however. Einstein’s cat survived the full week, which indicates that love is sometimes possible. But when Einstein returned from holiday, he discovered that Schrödinger had actually eloped with Einstein’s live-in girlfriend. Which proves that love is a myth. Or it is real. Either way, it’s all relative. And you’re in love at any given moment. Or not. See? Relative. But the important thing is that the cat survived and was not punched in its little face.