In the realm of debating, a “maiden” is a first-time college debater. Over the past eight weeks, dozens of maidens competed to be some of the lucky few to be finalists of the University Philosophical Society (the Phil) Maidens final 2017. Four hundred maidens signed up, and last night only eight remained. Judging the Maidens final were some of the Phil’s veterans: Niamh Egleston, Izzy Sweeney, Chris Costigan, Ciara O’Leary and Harry Higgins. Vice-President of the Phil Maeve Claffey organised the competition and chaired the debate.

Ronan Daly emerged as the eventual winner, but not before a debate began that included copious mentions of Taylor Swift, Adele, as well as a discussion of whether it really is better to have loved and lost.

Claudia Smith opened the debate with her personal definition of love: “A deep affection… or something” within romantic, platonic and familial relationships. Love is a basic human need, and there is a risk of losing the one you love, but it shouldn’t deter anyone, Smith argued. As Smith saw it, there are only two options here: living a life of unconditional love, both giving and receiving whilst also being completely aware of the risk of loss, or play it safe and keep everyone at arm’s length in case they hurt you. This latter way, she said, you miss out on forming deeper connections with people. “Life is not happy all of the time”, admitted Smith, “but would you rather live life to the full and experience the good and the bad? Or just a mediocre life?” Smith urged the audience to vote with their hearts, not their heads head, and to pursue love, regardless of the risk.

Speaking first for the opposition, James Spillane spoke about the emphasis that is placed on love in society. “Pop culture is saturated with romance” and love is the be-all-and-end-all in society. But there is more to life than love”, pointed out Spillane, especially considering how unhealthy it is to put everything you have into something that can be lost so easily. You can live without love, argues Spillane. “I mean look at me.”

“Baby”, Spillane said as he summed up, “you just don’t need no man”.

Hugh Ó Laoide described how the feeling of regret is key to this motion, and how his speech would touch on this issue of the retrospective view of loss. “Love is fucking great”, proclaimed Ó Laoide as he explained how we should just be throwing caution to the wind and putting our feelings out there for the world to see. On the issue of trying to avoid loving and losing, Ó Laoide wondered about the regret of inaction and how the regret will cling on to him in his future. “Nobody thanks God that they didn’t ask out their crush of two years”, he said. Ó Laoide joked about the hangovers he and anyone going to the reception will feel the next morning and how the possible pain of the future will certainly not stop him from enjoying himself in the moment. “We chose love over pain and the regrets of what could have been because love trumps heartbreak”, said Ó Laoide.

Christina Anderson opened her argument with the accusation that the proposition argument was attempting to glorify and justify heartbreak. What’s so bad about being single? Especially in college when you don’t need the added strain of heartbreak. “When we love and lose”, explained Christina, “we try to justify it” and what we put ourselves through for the sake of “love”.The idea of suffering for love shouldn’t be a given. Anderson summed up the opposition’s argument of self-love and independence, and said that “we must look after our own hearts” and support ourselves just as we would if we were being protective over a friend who is heartbroken.

Donnchadh Curran began his speech with a bit of rebuttal, arguing that the opposition seems to only be debating romantic love, and not familial or platonic love. Connections, relationships, the people who act as our safety nets and support us through life are all ignored by the opposition arguments. Relationships are vital and they make us better people, argued Curran. “Love is a powerful emotion”, proclaimed Curran whilst still acknowledging that love can result in loss. Curran ended on the notion that the breakdown of love produces art, hinting at examples of the art produced by the likes of the songwriters Adele and Taylor Swift – who both were mentioned a lot throughout the debate as icons of loving and losing.

“Why aren’t we all high on heroin right now?” asked Harry Hogan as he continued the argument for the opposition. After the eruption of laughter following this statement, Hogan went on to explain his reason for asking this and comparing love to heroin. We know that using heroin is bad, so we don’t do it, and even though we know that love can be bad at times, we still pursue it. Hogan argued that love, like heroin, has a very high social and financial cost, and a failure to put “bros before hoes” has a detrimental effect on life. Hogan concluded his argument by telling the audience that he’s no expert on heartbreak, and Adele and Taylor Swift – “the great philosophers of love” – should be looked to instead for the answer.

Closing the debate for the proposition side, Kate Duggan explained how people shouldn’t be afraid to love and why love is so important to who we are. “Ultimately”, Duggan said, “we love because we want to be loved, and you can’t have one without the other”. Duggan argued that love is still worth it, even if it ends badly and that “we love because we need to be loved”. Love may be hurtful and brutal, but it’s important to acknowledge that it’s “vital”, no matter the risk of loss, according to Duggan.

Daly closed the debate as a whole with a statement on the unhealthy nature of chasing after love and validation. Daly pointed out that “real” love is unconditional and long-lasting, and so “the love that you lose was never love at all” although it felt real and exciting. “You can still love yourself, your family, but here we’re talking about relationships”, explained Daly as he pointed out that we all just want to be loved and validated. Daly finished with a RuPaul quote:“If you don’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?”