The beginning of love is always delusional. Seeping in idealization, but soon, only with the passage of time, our eyes become acquainted with the truth. In the early stages of love we suspended our judgement. Allowing people to be fully themselves, and viewing them through a lens of adorability. Once this idealization fades our lovers become relocated into the space of critical judgement. Alain de Botton on Relationships helps us see the people we love not as saviors but partners
Through the fading of the twisted lens of idealization our lovers actually become real people. However, love providing nourishment, spontaneity, and meaning to our lives we allow our discernment to fade. The people we see when we lose interest were those same people all along. These people can no longer save us from ourselves. They contain all the fear, hesitation, procrastination and humanness that we contained. We once believed in our lovers more than ourselves. This is precisely why love continuously fails. For we loved from a place of lack hoping to achieve fullness through them. Alain De Botton reveals us the rose colored glasses of relationships. We watch a young boy suspend his judgement, and assume this woman is the embodiment of perfection saying:
‘Seeing through people is so easy, and it gets you nowhere,’ remarked Elias Canetti, suggesting how effortlessly and yet how uselessly we can find fault with others. Do we not fall in love partly out of a momentary will to suspend seeing through people, even at the cost of blinding ourselves a little in the process? If cynicism and love lie at opposite ends of a spectrum, do we not sometimes fall in love in order to escape the debilitating cynicism to which we are prone?
Our main character declares Chloe as the love of his life. His emotional immaturity and universal rose-tinted glasses give every movement of hers a certain beauty. Is it possible to approach love without the whimsical idealization of another person? To see them as a real human beings that contain everything we hide. Time eventually unravels every delusion, and we are revealed through the actions of the person we love.
And we are revealed in our forgetfulness, for authentic love comes when our lovers are allowed to reveal every fault and insecurity contained within us. Self-love is giving ourselves the same recognition of humanness as our lovers; allowing ourselves to remember our faults and embrace our totality. Everyone around us is a human being; attempting to live a joyful, wonder-filled, prosperous life. Going further into our tendency to shrink our lovers, and become delusion about the universal “faults” in their character Alain De Botton says:
What is so frightening is the extent to which we may idealize others when we have such trouble tolerating ourselves because we have such trouble… Every fall into love involves the triumph of hope over self-knowledge. We fall in love hoping we won’t find in another what we know is in ourselves, all the cowardice, weakness, laziness, dishonesty, compromise, and stupidity. As we throw a cordon of love around the chosen one and decide that everything within it will somehow be free of our faults. We locate inside another a perfection that eludes us within ourselves, and through our union with the beloved, hope to maintain (against the evidence of all self-knowledge) a precarious faith in our species.
As we grow older our needs change, and as our love goes through its many transformation, the emotional magnetism for another person must be trusted. I know little about love, falling in love, or true love, but I’ve experienced strange words like compassion, patience, support, commitment, and Joy. As we peer behind the tinted lenses of emotional idealization our lovers become themselves, our friends become themselves, our enemies become themselves, and we become complete. Alain questions his emotional certainty saying:
Love reinvents our needs with unique speed. In the taxi on the way into town, I felt a curious sense of loss. Could this really be love? To speak of love after we had barely spent a morning together was to encounter charges of romantic delusion and semantic folly. Yet we can perhaps only ever fall in love without knowing quite who we have fallen in love with. The initial convulsion is necessarily founded on ignorance. Love or simple obsession? Who, if not time (which lies in its own way), could possibly begin to tell?
Love comes under the philosophical microscope. An entire chapter is devoted to the nuances and subtexts of an initial date. Another chapter mulls over the question of how and when to say ‘I love you’. There’s an essay on how uncomfortable it can be to disagree with a lover’s taste in shoes and a lengthy discussion about the role of guilt in love. Continue reading Alain De Botton On Authenticity.