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How fiction ruined love

ft.com

Our ideas of love

The differences in how people have loved throughout history suggest that our style of loving is to a significant extent determined by what the prevailing environment dictates.

It is through novels, poems, songs and, latterly, films that we have acquired our misleading ideas about love.

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... are crucial elements of wisdom, realism and maturity. Our love stories excite us to expect things of love that are neither very possible nor very practical.

We learn to judge ourselves by the hopes and expectations fostered by a misleading artistic medium.

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How love stories affect us

Emma Bovary in Madame Bovary (1856) spent her childhood immersed in Romantic fiction. As a result, she’s expecting that her husband will be someone who understands her soul perfectly.

When she does get married to the kind, thoughtful but human. But she is quickly bored by t...

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What is missing from romantic fiction

Our art is full of omissions. For example, in so many romantic stories, the whole business of work is rarely viewed as relevant to the enduring of a relationship. Yet, in reality, part of the rationale of any relationship is to enable two people to function as a stable joint economic unit ...

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Romanticism and capitalism are the two dominant ideas of our time, guiding the way we think and feel about the two things that usually matter most in our lives: relationships and work

The impressive philosophy of romantic love in art ( with focus on intimacy and openness and sp...

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Until our art changes radically, we won’t go into relationships ready to perceive domestic issues as important potential flashpoints to look out for and pay attention to. 

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Our culture is full of skillful depictions of love. But at the same time, many of these stories are very unhelpful. We learn to judge ourselves by the hopes and expectations cultivated by a confusing artistic medium. 

We need to tell ourselves more accurate stories about the progre...

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