Below is a short discussion inspired by Alain de Botton on this episode of On Being with Krista Tippett.
Our idea of ‘true love’ is one that is free of conflict. Swiss-British philosopher and author Alain de Botton tells us this is not the case. We might want the kind of love we see in movies, or only the most romantic parts of being with someone. But this idea of love doesn’t consider the real, hard work that goes into love and relationships.
How should we think about love?
- Love is seeing and accepting each other’s flaws. Perfection isn’t what’s needed in a successful relationship. We only need to know and accept each other’s imperfections.
- Love takes hard work and effort. Love isn’t just an emotion. It’s a skill, one that has to be learned and practiced over time.
- Compatibility is an achievement, not a precondition, of love. In the same way we love and accept the flaws of our family, we can learn to love and accept the flaws in others.
We can make connections and find love despite all our flaws. We’re only human, after all. Loving takes compassion, towards our partners, others, and ourselves.
the distilld lessons
Here are the distilld lessons inspired by "The True Hard Work of Love and Relationships" episode from the On Being podcast:
We have a picture in our heads of what the perfect relationship should look like. But that standard picture is unrealistic. Why? Because there’s no such thing as a perfect relationship.
Love is an attempt made by two flawed individuals to accept and understand each other. They won't ever know each other completely, but they choose each other anyway.
Often, we tend to latch on to the positive aspects of a person we’re attracted to when we first meet them. We impose on them an idea of who we think they should be versus who they really are. That’s not fair.
It’s hard to accept that the people we love won’t be the way we want them to be. But once we accept that, being with them gets much easier.
We don’t need to be perfect for each other. Love is a mutual acceptance of each other’s flaws.
We can understand our partner more if we treat them with the same patience we have for children.
We're all flawed in different ways. But there’s a tendency to blame people we love for the problems in a relationship. It’s hard to admit that maybe we are part of the problem.
Our partner will never know us as well as we want them to. Accepting that is part of being able to form a good relationship with someone.
Marriage is a gamble and it takes a lot of work. Relationships have a lot of mundane moments and conflicts can arise even from little things like splitting the chores.
It's the daily wear-and-tear of a relationship that can catch us off-guard. We can’t dismiss them just because they seem trivial. They aren't.
Love is having the capacity to empathize with people with whom we may not agree with. It’s giving them the benefit of the doubt when they don’t believe in the same ideas we do.
Love is also a connection with others that we need to bring outside of our homes. We should let our love in the public space. We need to build a world where we can be more sensitive and loving to one another.
- Accept your partner for the way they are. Remind yourself that your partner is just as flawed as you are. There will be difficult times, but you can work through them together.
- Be patient with yourself and your partner. Learn to talk about how you feel. When in conflict, communicate to get to the root of the problem.
- Don't take little things for granted. Trivial conflicts can snowball if you aren't careful. Acknowledge that these mundane things are part of your relationship too.
- Be kind to strangers. Always give them the benefit of the doubt. You never know what they might be going through.
For a more in depth conversation, the distilld lessons (extended) are here.