We just need people to be able to explain their imperfections to us in good time, before they’ve hurt us too much with them, and with a certain degree of humility. If we could really have that in our minds early enough on in a relationship. And of course, an adult relationship can’t be like that. And I think that question that you said could be a standard question on an early date — “And how are you crazy? We only get into sulks with people that we feel should understand us, but rather unforgivably, haven’t understood us. They literally think that their parents can read their minds. And we don’t because we’re operating with this mad idea that true love means intuitive understanding. I think it’s “The Darkest Truth About Love.” Is that right? ” and you can’t necessarily attribute all the sorrows that you’re feeling to your lover, if you recognize that some of those things are perhaps endemic to existence, or endemic to all human beings, or something within yourself, then what you’re doing is encountering the pain of life with another person but not necessarily because of another person. Tippett: And because we have that power, in fact — and for example, you are, in fact, arguing — as you said before, some marriages are meant to end. The truth is, more than ever before perhaps, in our world, we are in relationship. But we have this habit and this capacity in public to — and also, we know that our brains work this way — to see the other, to see those strangers, those people, those people on the other side politically, socioeconomically, whatever, forgetting that in our intimate lives, and in our love lives, in our circles of family and friends, and in our marriages, and with our children, there are things about the people we love the most who drive us crazy that we do not comprehend. I think it would be such a pity if we had to drive something as important as validation and self-acceptance and a pleasant view of oneself through the gate of — rather narrow gate of sex. We’re still at the very beginning of understanding ourselves as human emotional creatures.
It’s got to accept that the person across the table or on the other side of the bed is just human, which means full of flaws, fears, etc., and not some sort of superhuman. ” — there’s also something that you’re getting at that — it almost seems like we must be hardwired to do this. So in other words, it’s when we are in love with people and they’re in love with us that we take particular offense when they get things wrong. It takes a long time to realize that the only way that one person can really learn about another is if it’s explained to them, preferably using words, quite calm ones... And I go crazy when people say things like, “I met someone. de Botton: And I thought — so many alarm bells go off when I hear that because I think, “OK, well, good luck in this instance, but if you guys get together, that’s not going to go on forever.” No one can intuitively understand another beyond a quite limited range of topics. And there’s certainly reasons for marriages to end or to end marriages. In a way that you’re just redirecting your hope elsewhere and... Tippett: Imagining that this is the perfect one, right? And so it’s — on and on the cycles of hurt continue. Tippett: Something else you name about marriage that I feel is not often enough just named is that — we spoke a little while ago about children coming into a marriage. One thing you say that’s beautiful that children teach us that love in its purest form is a kind of service, that the love we have for our children — I certainly know this with myself — that the love I have for my children has changed me, and it is distinct from all the other loves I’ve ever known. In a way, there’s a lot of mundanity in relationships. And flirtation is kind of an act of the imagination. I think somewhere — you also have this lovely film, one of these School of Life films about this. In other words, sex is continuous with a lot of things that we’re interested in outside of the bedroom. Tippett: And you say that flirting is one way to experience, in the course of ordinary life, in a way that’s completely nonthreatening to whatever your commitments are, what is enjoyable about sex that’s not necessarily the act itself, the fact that we are sexual beings. We’re still taking our first baby steps in the understanding of love, and we need a lot of compassion for ourselves.
I’m crazy like this,” and then understood that the real work of love is not in the falling, but in what comes after? Alain de Botton: We must fiercely resist the idea that true love must mean conflict-free love, that the course of true love is smooth. The course of true love is rocky and bumpy at the best of times. And one of the things you point out about , one of the things that’s wrong with all of that is that they — a lot of these just take us up to the wedding. And what we call a love story is really just the beginning of a love story, but we leave that out. It was a wise Jewish mother who had said to them, “Men marry women with the intention that they — with the idea that they will the stay the same. He should just know.”  And you just — what I also know is that grasping this, what you’re talking about, is work. Probably they’re tired, they’re hungry, something’s gone wrong, their tooth hurts, something. So often we blame our lovers; we don’t blame our view of love. Tippett: This right person, this creature does not exist. de Botton: And is, in fact, the enemy of good enough relationships. ” “Well, I just want to have a good enough relationship.” People would go, “I’m sorry your life is so grim.” But you want to go, “No, that’s really good. But also, behind that is the — as you say, these are dark truths, but it’s also a relief, as truth always ultimately is, if we can hear it. I think one of the greatest sorrows we sometimes have in love is the feeling that our lover doesn’t understand parts of us. You may not want to be lonely with over 50 percent, but I think there’s certainly a sizable minority share of your life which you’re going to have to endure without echo from those you love. Tippett: You know, I debated over whether I would discuss this with you, but I think I will. We’re all the time, we are hardwired to seek connections with others. And in the end, what I say to her, did end up saying to her was, “In a way, I’m probably behaving exactly like your father, but just not the father that you saw when he was around you.” Ms. I’m thinking a lot right now these days about how and if we could apply the intelligence we actually have with the experience of love, not the ideal, but the experience of love in our lives, to how we can be as citizens moving forward. If we see charity being exercised, if we see good humor, if we see forgiveness on display, again, it will lend support to those sides of ourselves. And I think it’s also such an important thing to bear in mind that the import of our conduct, moment to moment, that that is having effects that we can’t see. These things are humiliating — little things can deeply wound and humiliate. I want to know — I don’t want to let you go before asking what you think about — what’s your view of online dating because this a new way that so many people, perhaps most people, moving forward are meeting, are engaging this romantic side of themselves. de Botton: At one level, online dating promises to open up something absolutely wonderful, which is a more logical way of getting together with someone.
That’s the best we can manage as the creatures we are. Tippett: So, we did speak a few years ago, but on a very different topic, and I’m really excited to be speaking with you about this subject, which is so close to every life. And so we castigate ourselves for not having a normal love life, even though no one seems to have any of these. They take us through the falling and don’t see that — I think you’ve written somewhere — and you’ve said, “A wiser culture than ours would recognize that the start of a relationship is not the high point that romantic art assumes; it is merely the first step of a far longer, more ambivalent, and yet quietly audacious journey on which we should direct our intelligence and scrutiny.” Mr. But most of us, we’re interested in long-term relationships. You say somewhere they are committed to “increasing the admirable characteristics” that they possess and the other person possesses. Women marry men with the idea that they will change.” Which is obviously a huge generalization. I would argue that both genders want to change one another, and they both have an idea of who the lover should be. We’re looking around for a benevolent interpretation that can just shave off some of the more depressing, dispiriting aspects of their behavior. And so I think the work of love is to try, when we can manage it — we can’t always — to go behind the front of this rather depressing challenging behavior and try and ask where it might’ve come from. And so we keep sacking our lovers and blowing up relationships all in pursuit of this idea of love which actually has no basis in reality. I’m really fond of Donald Winnicott, this English psychoanalyst’s term, which he first used in relation to parenting, that what we should be aiming for is not perfection but a “good enough” situation. That’s kind of — for a human, that’s brilliant.” And that’s, I think, the attitude we should have. Tippett: In this “Darkest Truth About Love,” you say the idea of love in fact distracts us from existential loneliness. That again, that is the work of life is to reckon with what goes on inside us. And a certain kind of bravery, a certain heroic acceptance of loneliness seems to be one of the key ingredients to being able to form a good relationship. I’m single right now and have been for a few years, and it’s actually been a great joy. And that is, in a sense, at a kind of granular level, what love is. And insofar as one is alive and one is in buoyant, relatively buoyant spirit some of the time, it’s because we are connected.  And it’s certainly contrary to the romantic view. Where there’s a lot of behavior in public — I’m speaking for the United States, but I think there are forms of this in the UK as well. I think you’re onto something huge and rather counterintuitive because we associate the word “love” with private life. And we need to take care what we’re exposing ourselves to because too much exposure to the opposite of love makes us into very hostile and angry people. Let’s not forget that one of the things that makes relationships so scary is we need to be weak in front of other people. What we don’t know how to do is to make ourselves safely vulnerable, and so we get we tend to get very twitchy, preternaturally aggressive, etc., when we’re asked to — when the moment has come to be weak. Tippett: And I feel like there’s almost this calling now because the stakes are so high for emotional intelligence in public, which of course, we don’t — none of us gets perfectly in our intimate lives. The sort of dream is that the secrets of our soul and the secrets of somebody else’s soul will be sort of downloaded onto a computer and that we will find the best possible match for who we are.
There’s no arguments as vicious as when two people are arguing about something, but both of them think the argument is trivial. And so often, we think of sex as just a sort of pneumatic activity, but really, it’s a psychological activity. It’s like we’re trying to inflate somebody else’s mouth. I’m allowing you into my private space as a way of signaling, ‘I like you.’” And what really — we call it getting “turned on,” but what we’re really, as it were, excited by is that someone accepts us with remarkable — in all our... Life is suffering,” is doing a quite unusual thing in our culture, which is so much about optimism. It is, in fact, enormously consoling, and alleviating, and helpful in a culture which is oppressive in its demands for perfection. And we must fiercely resist the idea that true love must mean conflict-free love, that the course of true love is smooth. The course of true love is rocky and bumpy at the best of times.
So they’ll say things like, “Oh, it’s just absurd we’re arguing over who should hang up the towels in the bathroom. And if you try to imagine why people are excited by sex, it’s not so much that it’s a pleasurable nerve-ending business; it’s ultimately that it’s about acceptance. So I think a certain kind of pessimistic realism, which is totally compatible with hope, totally compatible with laughter, good humor, a sense of fun — it doesn’t have to be dour. Tippett: It’s how comedy and tragedy belong together. That’s the best we can manage as the creatures we are, that flawed humanity, the better chance we’ll have of doing the true hard work of love. Tippett: Love takes many forms, and there’s more love in our lives than we often realize.
As people and as a culture, he says, we would be much saner and happier if we reexamined our very view of love. And you say, at one point, this is the relationship between Rabih and Kirsten. Look, one of the first important truths is, you’re crazy.
What if, instead of asking them to turn the lights off, you were asking them how to mend a broken heart?” And “why shouldn’t we put him through hell if the truth is that he’s an jerk? What if the first question we asked on a date were, "How are you crazy? Philosopher and writer Alain de Botton's essay "Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person" was, amazingly, the most-read article in in the news-drenched year of 2016.You stop enjoying the relationship for what it is and start craving validation and confirmation that it’s “the real deal.” And there’s only one thing that manifests from that place… QUIZ: Are You Accidentally Destroying Your Love Life?These days, people are quick to throw the concept of neediness around without actually looking at what it is.We’ll mail them a hand-designed quote card in your name.We’re calling this celebration #Four Kinds Of Love. [ is Trent Gilliss, Chris Heagle, Lily Percy, Mariah Helgeson, Maia Tarrell, Marie Sambilay, Bethanie Mann, Selena Carlson, and Rigsar Wangchuck. Tippett: Our lovely theme music is provided and composed by Zoe Keating.Nowhere do we realistically teach ourselves and our children how love deepens and stumbles, survives and evolves over time, and how that process has much more to do with ourselves than with what is right or wrong about our partner. So we have this ideal of what love is and then these very, very unhelpful narratives of love. Love is at its most necessary when we are weak, when we feel incomplete, and we must show love to one another at those points. The only conditions — as we know with children, the only conditions under which anyone learns are conditions of incredible sweetness, tenderness, patience. But the problem is that the failures of our relationships have made us so anxious that we can’t be the teachers we should be. And not to infantilize them, but when we’re dealing with children as parents, as adults, we’re incredibly generous in the way we interpret their behavior. I think there’s a certain wisdom that begins by knowing that of course you, like everyone else, is pretty difficult. Our parents don’t tell us, our ex-lovers — they knew it, but they couldn’t be bothered to tell us. And often, you can be way into your 40s before you’re starting to get a sense of, “Well, maybe some of the problem is in me.” Because of course, it’s so intuitive to think that of course it’s the other person. There are islands and moments of beautiful connection, but we have to be modest about how often they’re going to happen. If I can be indiscreet on air, my wife used to say to me, in the early days of our marriage, she sometimes would say to me things like, “My father would never have said something like” — I would say something, or it’s not my turn to make the tea or something. He would always to do this for us.” And then I had to point out that there was really a — she wasn’t comparing like with like. And so one of the things we do as parents is to edit ourselves, which is lovely, in a way, for our children. Today, we are exploring the true hard work of love with the writer and philosopher Alain de Botton. Tippett: I’d like to go a slightly different place with all of this. And I think if we just try and explore the world “political,” “political” really means “outside of private space.” And we’re highly socialized creatures who really take our cues from what is going on around us. And we need to build a world that recognizes that if somebody goes “mm-hmm” rather than “this” or “thanks” rather than “yes” or whatever it is, this can ruin our day.How different would our relationships be, de Botton says, if the question we asked on an early date was, “How are you crazy? So we’ve got these two contrasting stories, and we get them muddled, and... Tippett: And also — and I feel like this should be obvious — but you just touched on art and culture and how that could help us complexify our understanding of this. Tippett: Your most recent book on this subject is , which is a novel, but it’s a novel that actually I feel you kind of weave a pedagogical narrator voice into it. And therefore, some often genuine legitimate things that we want to get across are just — come across as insults, as attempts to wound, and are therefore rejected, and the arteries of the relationship start to fur. Tippett: Someone recently said to me — I’m curious about how you would respond to this. So as — now that I have young adult children, when you hear that coming out of the mouth of your 21-year-old, “He should know. And if a child says — if you walk home, and a child says, “I hate you,” you immediately go, OK, that’s not quite true. So to begin with that sense of, “I’m quite tricky and in these ways.” That’s a very important starting point for being good at love. I think if you’re lonely with only — I don’t know — 40 percent of your life, that’s really good going. There’s this wonderful line from about these two parents with children: “The tired child in each of them is furious at how long it’s been neglected and in pieces.” Mr. She was comparing this man, her father, as a father but not as a lover. But it gives our children a really unnatural sense of what you can expect from another human being because we’re never as nice to probably anyone else on Earth as we are to our children. The things you’ve been saying, pointing out about how love really works, that people don’t learn when they’re humiliated, that self-righteousness is an enemy of love. And if we see an atmosphere of short tempers, of selfishness, etc., that will bolster those capacities within ourselves. And we should think about that as we approach, not just our personal relationships, but also our social and political relationships.I’ve had some of my female readers complain that the term neediness makes it sound like I’m framing women as weak, fragile, insecure creatures that just cling to men (and stress them out). I think women bring a tremendous strength and power to the table in relationships…when they have access to it and are free of their own fears. Those fears are greater now more than ever really since there’s an entire industry devoted to making sure men and women are wrought with insecurities so they buy products (sowing in and agitating tiny insecurities is the bread and butter of the marketing world).