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Alain de Botton on love: Admit you're crazy up front

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-07-12/philosopher-alain-de-botton-on-love-admit-you-are-crazy/7588040

abc.net.au

Alain de Botton on love: Admit you're crazy up front
Updated July 12, 2016 06:59:01 Is there really such a thing as a soulmate? Should your partner be able to sense what is up without you needing to spell it out? Are arguments always a sign our relationship isn't working? And can Brexit be likened to a really bad breakup?

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Alain de Botton

"One of the first things couples should do is rather than saying how perfect they are, they should say 'I'm crazy like this, how are you crazy?'.

Most of the time we make discoveries about how difficult people are at the moment when the difficulties have actually hurt us, therefore, we are not likely to be forgiving or sympathetic."

Alain de Botton

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Alain de Botton

"There is a cult of romanticism. It started in the 18th century, and it basically told people that everybody has a soul mate, everybody has somebody who will cure them of all loneliness.

We make the equation that, if you love me, you are supposed to understand me even if I don't explain what's wrong. With any good relationship, unfortunately, we often have to spell out what we need. People cannot be mind readers."

Alain de Botton

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Alain de Botton

"There are lovely moments in early childhood when your parent can guess pretty well what you need. In the early days of love sometimes, you will report an ecstatic feeling you have met someone who seems to understand you without you needing to speak.

So many problems of relationships (are) where we have things to say we haven't said, and we blame people and get bitter that people haven't understood what we never explained to them."

Alain de Botton

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Alain de Botton

"Love gives us a ringside seat on somebody else's flaws. You will spot things that need to be mentioned.

The romantic view is to say 'If you loved me, you wouldn't criticize me'.

Actually, true love is often trying to teach someone how to be the best version of themselves."

Alain de Botton

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Alain de Botton

"We are obsessed (in popular culture) with beginnings of love, the magic meet-cute we call it, or the end of love, the tragic undoing and death and whatnot. But you want to focus on the drudgery of the middle, almost.

Often we think love is a feeling, that you spontaneously experience it. I think, ultimately, it is a skill that needs to be learned. We are not set up for that."

Alain de Botton

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Alain de Botton

"Never believe anything is below you as a topic of discussion.

Often people insist their way is the way and refuse to have a discussion because they think it is not serious."

Alain de Botton

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The cultural backdrop

For most of recorded history, people got married for logical pragmatic sorts of reasons.

Since around 1750, we have been living in an era in the history of love that we can call Romanticism w...

The Romantic template

  • Romanticism tells us that a long-term marriage can have all the excitement of a love affair.
  • Romanticism proposed that true love must mean an end to all loneliness.
  • Romanticism believed that choosing a partner should be about letting oneself be guided by feelings, rather than practical considerations.
  • Romanticism believes that true love is synonymous with accepting everything about someone.

The Romantic script is delusional

It's normative points include:

  • we should meet a person of extraordinary inner and outer beauty and immediately feel a special attraction to them, and they to us
  • we should understand one another intuitively
  • we don’t need an education in love
  • we should have no secrets and spend constant time together
  • we should raise a family without any loss of intensity
  • our lover must be our soulmate, best friend, co-parent, co-chauffeur, accountant, household manager and spiritual guide

Believing in the soulmate concept

If you are in love with the person, believing that you are soulmates can strengthen the relationship.

However, if you are to end a relationship with someone who you thought was your soulmate,...

The existence of soulmates

Soulmates are only an artificial construct in our minds as a result of the movies we see and the songs we listen to.