Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Model of Love that Places Love in Opposition to Happiness

If your love doesn't make demands of you, difficult demands, then how do you know it's real?

Love, lifelong-soul-partnering love, is best identified not by the happiness it creates, but by the pain it causes. Every short-term infatuation is fun - possibly even more fun than a serious love, because a fling doesn't make demands on your ego, but instead just strokes it slowly. True love on the other hand can be rough on one's ego and will compel one to do things.
(Slavoj Zizek in his book violence says that 'love is violent' and here I write about another aspect of that violence.) Therefore, it stands to reason that some of the most loving people are some of the most miserable.

So if you're looking for examples of great loves perhaps it shouldn't be extremely happy perfectly compatible people who love in a very convenient manner. Perhaps the greatest loves are those who seem mismatched. Who don't even seem particularly happy, but are compelled to stay together; regardless of the fact that their love may make them miserable. The most meaningful love is one that isn't perfect. The most meaningful love is one where happiness and love are actually incompatible. I choose for myself a model of love which puts love in opposition to happiness. And if you really want love, you have to accept a fair amount of pain and unhappiness.

Maybe I just resent the idealized couple whose relationship is nothing but sunshine and perkiness, but as it is I prefer couples who are not ideal. Rocky and violent love is for me much more beautiful, because that love is much more real (both in the sense of being actual and in the sense of their love being genuine with depth and meaning). I prefer love that is difficult to love that is shallow.

1 comment:

  1. I want to clarify a few things in response to my buddy Ben. Thanks for reading Ben!

    I never say that love and happiness are incompatible. In fact most often they go hand-in-hand. However, a love that is not compatible with happiness is more meaningful because it is less convenient and more easily distinguishable​ from mere infatuation (which is more a love of self than love of the other). To love contrary to one's interests is a more meaningful and "true" love. For instance, I gave away all my magic cards when I married Aubry, because she wanted me to. This did not make me happy, but it was an act of love. Now, Aubry is moving to Colorado with me so that I can go to law school - which will not make her happy, but it is loving. In both instances loving the other was incompatible with happiness but we acted on love (a compulsive need to be with the other) and the gesture was all the more meaningful as a result.

    I was afraid readers might try to fault me for supporting abusive relations. I certainly would not support anyone staying with an abusive partner. No one should have to deal with that. The unhappiness I'm talking about stems from competing personal interests (like my interest in magic cards which Aubry hates). If someone is unhappy in a relationship because their partner is being abusive than they need to get away. However, after they get away, if they still love that person from a distance, then my argument would still hold true because love despite abuse would be an incredibly strong form of love. For instance, I have a very close friend who was abused by his father as a child. Despite this fact this friend chooses to love his father. Furthermore, now that this friend is at an age that he can't be physically abused by this man, he chooses to forgive him and allow him to be a part of his life. That is an incredible kind of love which transcends infatuation and "you-make-me-fe​el-goodness". Would you not agree?