Lovelocks are a Menace

| September 13, 2013 | 4 Comments
photo credit: Kinchan1 via photopin cc

photo credit: Kinchan1 via photopin cc

Lovelocks are a defacement of public property. There, I said it.  I hate them.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, let me fill you in. In the past five years padlocks, bike locks and handcuffs have been popping up on bridges around the world. Some say these Cadenas d’Amour originated in Paris, the city of lovers. While standing on iconic French bridges like the Pont de Arts, or the Pont de l’Archevede, couples write their names on a lock, hook it to the bridge and then throw the key into the River Seine. Others say the lovelock tradition started in China, where padlocks blanket every metal pole and fence around Mount Huang, The Yellow Mountain in Huangshan. Here enamored couples symbolically lock their souls together and throw the key into the Valley of Mists. All around the world, from the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City, to the Ha’Penny Bridge in Dublin, Ireland, these symbols of devotion have been springing up as lovers affix their permanent public displays of affection to bridges everywhere.

Wow. How romantic.

photo credit: Kinchan1 via photopin cc

photo credit: Kinchan1 via photopin cc

Except, not really. Take the rose tinted glasses off and think about it for a minute. First and foremost, what is love without the freedom to walk away?

As the New York Times so elegantly put it, “To love truly is to want the other free… Love is not about possession or property. Love is no prison where two people are each other’s slaves.”

Love is inherently fragile. It’s hazardous, it hurts, it’s incredibly rewarding and it’s also devastating. The constant, everlasting love of fairytales that the locks on bridges everywhere dare to symbolize simply does not exist. Not only that, but if you truly love someone wouldn’t you want them to be free to walk away, which makes their choice to stay with you instead all the more powerful?

photo credit: leoglenn_g via photopin cc

photo credit: leoglenn_g via photopin cc

Lovelocks are also physically destroying historical monuments. In their efforts to consecrate their eternal love, couples have dared to damage bridges and statues all around Europe. Last February the French government removed five damaged grates on The Pont de Arts in France, replacing them temporarily with plywood planks. Each grate bears the weight of about 330 pounds worth of locks and they are simply breaking down under the pressure. Additionally, it’s easier for metal re-sellers to remove the padlocks by cutting the grates themselves than to cut through the heavy metal of the locks.  Not to mention the damage to the River Seine! Imagine hundreds of people every week throwing metal keys into the river to lie there and rust for years to come.

On a superficial level, yes, lovelocks are romantic with their overt symbolism of everlasting love and romance. But if you look a little bit closer, think about it a bit harder, there’s really nothing romantic about them.

Romantic right? A lock on the St. Mary's bridge next to BU

Romantic right? One of the less serious locks on the St. Mary’s bridge next to BU

So please, BU Students, stop attaching padlocks to the St Mary’s bridge in South. Love isn’t in a cold, metal padlock. Throwing a key onto a 6-lane highway is less of a romantic gesture and more of hazard to oncoming traffic. All I ask, even if you disagree with me, is to think about it and to please, just stop with the lovelocks.

If you’re interested in reading more about lovelocks and about an artist’s attempt to interpret them check out this fascinating article.


Featured Photo Credit: photo credit: [miguel77 via photopin cc]

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Category: Campus Culture, featured, Romance

Emily Sheehan

About the Author ()

Emily Sheehan is from the rainy city of Seattle, Washington. She loves lattes and latte foam, the quiet of snowfall, fantasy novels, black cats, and The Lord of the Rings movies. She aspires to become an executive producer or director and make movies that tell fantastic stories. If she can make at least one person laugh once a day for the rest of her life she'll be satisfied.

Comments (4)

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  1. Barbara says:

    Boston has a big heart to begin with. How about a compromise?
    With some research, Town Hall approval, and talent from local welding artists perhaps Boston can relocate the locks to a designated park or walking bridge with beautifully crafted, well built, properly anchored “love trees”.
    Most landmarks can not be moved. This one can. I applaud your respect and appreciation for Boston. Can you put your words into actions to leave something better than you found it?

    Thank you.

  2. Tino Bratbo says:



    There IS something inherently possessive about all our “institutions” of love. Even our friendships. We make friendship bracelets, propose and get married with metal rings, we wear our significant other’s clothes, we get tattoos, promise rings… What are these but markers of “territory”? The people we care about the most are the people we are most possessive of. I don’t think there’s anything inherently unnatural about that. There is a grand valley between being possessive of someone you care about, and locking them in slavery. Hyperbole is fine, but it isn’t necessarily accurate. Possessiveness is natural, I would even argue that it is conditioned by evolution.

    And what about the alternative? If we weren’t possessive at all? What would that even look like? Does that mean we allow our significant others to sleep with someone else? ‘Cause, after all, we don’t OWN our significant other.

    And what about the argument that our generation doesn’t take love seriously enough? That we enter our relationships light-heartedly, and abandon them with as little emotion as we went into them with… It might actually do us some good to be locked into a relationship for a while so we might learn a thing or two about compromise and interpersonal relationships – skills we are quickly losing to internet expression.

    Now, you might say that YOU take love seriously. That YOU are not possessive, and that YOU are not light-hearted about your relationships. And I’ll accept your point. But by that rationale you ought to extend the same courtesy to those who feel the love-locks mean something. It might not mean something to you, but to someone else it might be incredibly cathartic. I agree with your points about polluting rivers, dangerous oncoming traffic, and the cost of replacing large portions of bridges. I even agree with the undertone of jaded discontent with a practice that has become cliche…

    But then your argument is not against the symbolism, but about the practicality and triteness of it all.

    • Emily Emily says:

      Oh Tino, I have fretted over how to respond to you because the truth is that you have a good point. It is the triteness that’s distasteful and the cliche of it all. You make a good point about possession that I’m glad you shared with me. It’s something I’ll most certainly think about.

      I’m happy you took the time to articulate your thoughts so clearly. It’s a testament to how much you care and how much my writing has provoked you to think hard about something that’s often left unsaid. If anything, even though you disagree with me, I must say I’m very happy that I was able to get such a visceral reaction from you.

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