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

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 on love: Admit you're crazy up front

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

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Key Ideas

Alain de Botton

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

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

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

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

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."

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Dropping “Hints”

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Holding the Relationship Hostage

For example, if someone feels like you’ve been cold to them, instead of saying, “I feel like you’re being cold sometimes,” they will say, “I can’t date someone who is cold to me." 

It’s crucial for both people in a relationship to know that negative thoughts and feelings can be communicated safely to one another without it threatening the relationship itself. 

Blaming Your Partner

... for your own emotions. This is a subtle form of selfishness and a classic example of the poor maintenance of personal boundaries. Take responsibility for your own emotions and expect your partner to be responsible for theirs. 

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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

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Plato on love

The ancient Greek philosopher Plato argued that the highest form of love was brotherly love or platonic love.

The industrial age changed romance

For most of human history, there was no time for romance. Marriages were arranged by families and were a purely economic arrangement designed to promote the survival and prosperity of both extended families.

It wasn’t until the industrial age that things began to change. They didn't have to rely so heavily on family connections any more. Consequently, the economic and political components of marriage ceased to make sense.

"Happily ever after" ideal

The economic realities of the 19th century mixed with the idea from the Enlightenment about the pursuit of happiness. The result was the Age of Romanticism.

People became economically independent and love (or emotions) became valued in society. These ideals of love have been heavily promoted and marketed during the 20th century.

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