I Dove Deep Into Love So You Don't Have To

I Dove Deep Into Love So You Don't Have To

By Laura Taylor

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My current dinner party game is picking and choosing from Arthur Aron’s 36 Questions to Fall In Love. It’s all fun, games and “what’s your perfect day?” until you ask someone to tell you their life story or most terrible memory. Aside from discovering how eagerly people share when given the opportunity, in the conversations that followed I noticed most people are also eager to discuss love... myself in particular. And although the topic has occupied my dinner table for some time,  I’ve now realised I’m quite disconnected from it. It is much easier to read about love, talk endlessly about theories and study other people’s opinions than it is to to experience and form your own.

So (for a while at least) I am done with it, and as my last act before I hang up my luurve hat - welcome to what I learnt. Here is a peek at my deep dive into love literature - the quotes I highlighted, podcast conversations I replayed, article paragraphs I sent on to friends over the past few months, popped somewhat ad hoc into categories.

In summary - I think all we know is that nobody really has a clue, and that’s kind of great.

“The incompatibilities of love; it juggles the need for wisdom with its likely impotence, juggles the idiocy of infatuation with its inevitability. Because of this, love has to be appreciated without flight into dogmatic optimism or pessimism, without constructing a philosophy of one's fears, or a morality of one's disappointments. Love teaches the analytic mind a certain humility that however hard it struggles, analysis can never be anything but flawed. And therefore, never stray too far from the ironic”

(references to the reading list at the end!)

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On Real Love Baby:

Mature love looks a lot like friendship

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“Preferable in almost every way, the philosophy of mature love is marked by an active awareness of the good and the bad within each person. It is full of temperance, it resists idealization, it free of jealousy, masochism or obsession, it is a form of friendship (with a sexual dimension) it is pleasant, peaceful and reciprocated.”

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“Immature love, however, is a story of chaotic lurching between idealization and disappointment, an unstable state where feelings of ecstasy and beatitude combine with impressions of drowning and fatal nausea, where the sense that one has finally found the answer comes together with the feeling that one has ever felt so lost.”

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“Extraordinary love was not defined by the intensity with which you wanted someone but by generosity, kindness and a deep sense of friendship. You had to love someone and like them”

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On Being Seen:

We all are a bit scared nobody will ever really know us

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“We long for a love in which we are never reduced or misunderstood.”

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“To ourselves, we are afterall un-labellable. When alone, we are always simply “me” and shift between sides of ourselves effortlessly and without the constraints imposed by the preconceptions of others. But eventually, as we must be characterised and labelled, the person we end up loving is the one who loves us for more or less the things we deem to be loveable for, who understands us for more or less the things we need to be understood, and for with each other we are given enough room to expand the ways or complexities demand”

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“I had spent my life wanting something else, something much harder to come by; the knowledge that someone could love me and would continue loving me indefinitely”

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On Finding The One:

We will all, by definition, end up with the character of our nightmares - the ‘wrong person’.

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“This needn’t be a disaster, however enlightened romantic pessimism simply assumes that one person can’t be everything to another. We should look for ways to accommodate ourselves gently and kindly as we can to the awkward realities of living alongside another fallen creature - there can only ever be a ‘good enough; marriage.”

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“For this to sink in, it helps to have had a few lovers before settling down, not in order to have had the chance to locate the ‘right person’, but in order to have had ample opportunity to discover first hand and in many different contexts, the truth that there isn’t any such person; and that everyone really is a bit wrong from close up”.

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“Choosing a person to marry is just a matter of deciding exactly what kind of suffering we want to endure, rather than imagining we have found a way to skirt around the rules of emotional existence”

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“The partner truly best suited to us, is not the one who miraculously happens to share every taste, but the one who can negotiate differences in taste with intelligence and good grace, It is the capacity to tolerate dissimilarity that is the true marker of the ‘right’ person.”

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On Attachment Theory:

You might chase dysfunctional relationships for a while

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“We are looking to recreate, within our adult relationships, the very feelings we knew so well in childhood - and which were rarely limited to just tenderness and care. The love most of us tasted early on came entwined with other, more destructive dynamics - feelings of wanting to help an adult who is out of control, of being deprived a parents warmth.”

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“How logical then, that as adults we find ourselves rejecting certain candidates not because they are wrong, but because they are a little too right, in the sense of seeming excessively balanced, mature understanding, reliable. We chase after other more exciting others not in the belief life with them will be harmonious but that it will be reassuringly familiar in its patterns of frustration.”

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“By working through their childhood they might understand the roots of their masochism and learnt that their desire to change unsuitable partners was only the relic of a more infantile fantasy to convert their parents into proper caregivers.”

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On Being Complete:

We are all lacking, and seeking, the same thing

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“We fall in love with people because, from the outside, they look so whole, physically and emotionally together, when subjectively we feel dispersed and confused. We could not love if there were no lack within us, but we are offended by the discovery of a similar lack in the other. Expecting to find the answer, we find only the duplicate of our own problems.”

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“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. 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.”

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On Love at First Sight:

Everything we know can be explained by a pair of ugly shoes

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(I love this example where the author describes the exact moment his illusion was shattered by his partner’s infatuation with a hideous pair of shoes)

“Doesn’t every love story have these moments? A search for eyes that will reflect one’s thoughts and that ends up with a divergence - be it over the class struggle or a pair of shoes? I couldn’t conceive how (she) could lose her heart to a deeply compromised piece of footwear. How could a woman who walks into my life and claims to love and understand me be drawn to such shoes?

Thus begins the dismay that comes with knowing the beloved better, we cannot help but notice the details are not quite as we intended them to be. People we love at first sight are free from fault, but as the fantasy plays out, the angelic beings who floated through consciousness reveal themselves as material beings laden with their own mental and physical history, and conflicting taste in shoes.”

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On Rejection:

You might not want to be with them, you just want to undo the rejection

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"Shame is the brain’s natural reaction when something or someone interrupts us in the middle of doing something we are enjoying. Our natural instinct is to ‘undo the situation’ so we can get back to that feeling of happiness. When we can’t — when we are, in fact, cut off completely from the source of the good feeling — we look for ways to explain away the bad feelings: She didn’t want to commit, he didn’t like my laugh.”

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“No matter how you explain it to yourself, your psyche is trying to undo the sense of disruption of the good feelings. Shame is a reaction to having a circuit in your emotional system broken.”

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“A crush is, by nature, to be crushed. You either choose rejection or acceptance which are in essence, the same thing. You are not chasing the person, but rather what they represent that you are at that moment lack.”

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On Attraction:

Desire is a dizzying (and deceiving) concept

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“The most attractive are not those who allow us to kiss them at once (we soon feel ungrateful) or those who don't allow us to kiss them (we soon forget them), but those who know how to carefully to administer varied does of hope and despair.”

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“A long, gloomy western tradition argues that love is, in it’s essence, an unreciprocated, Marxist emotion and that desire can only thrive on the impossibility mutuality. According to this view, love is simply a direction and burns itself out with the attainment of its goal, the possession (in bed or otherwise) of the loved one. To listen to this view, lovers cannot do anything save oscillate between the twin poles of yearning for someone and longing to be rid of them”

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“In love, there is nothing but a frantic desire for what flees from us”

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On Love Stories:

What we typically call love, is really only the start of love

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“Our understanding of love has been hijacked and beguiled by its first distractingly moving moments. We have allowed our love stories to end way too early. We seem to know far too much about how love starts, and recklessly little about how it may continue”

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“The start receives such disproportionate attention, because it isn’t deemed to be just one phase among many. For the Romantic, it contains a concentrated form of everything significant about love as a whole.”

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“Love stories begin not when we fear someone may be unwilling to see us again, but when they decide they would have no objection to seeing us all the time; not when they have every opportunity to run away, but when they have exchanged solemn vows promising to hold us, and be held captive by us, for life.”

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Here are all the book/podcasts etc quoted - if you have any questions about a source/quote flick us a message!


Reading/Listening List: Essays in Love, The Course of Love, Love’s Executioner, The Four Loves, How to Fall in Love with Anyone (A Memoir),Where Should We Begin,  Esther Perel, Dear Sugar Radio (Finding the One, Forbidden Crush, Career vs Love) Man’s Search for Meaning, A Grief Observed, RobCast, Cat Person, The Science of Ghosting, The Gifts of Imperfection.

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