The True Hard Work of Love and Relationships

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I listened to “The True Hard Work of Love and Relationships” today, which was a conversation between Krista Tippett and Alain de Botton. This was really exciting for me, as I have always been a long time fan of these two icons; that were trying interrogate, enquire and reflect on what is the essence of humanity. And in their own way spread wisdom within our modern 21st century.

Coming back to this conversation, it took a deep dive into the ideas of true love and how we must “fiercely resist the idea that true love must mean conflict-free love, that the course of true love is smooth. It’s not. The course of true love is rocky and bumpy at the best of times … It’s no fault of mine or no fault of yours; it’s to do with being human”. I deeply resonate with the need of bringing light to this idea of calling out the facade of romanticisation of love in our modern times. To break the stigma of showing how we are all flawed in our own humanity and we need the awareness and humility to work on truly being human

But with this train of thought, it brought me to the enquiry of what is perpetuating our this notion of Romantic love? Is it imbued into our everyday media that reinforces our expectations of what true love is? The way I see it, it does come back down to our demand for short term gratification. That we as consumers crave to see the facade of easy happiness in true love, rather than be faced with the reality of how much work is needed to develop a bond of deep connection with each other. However in light of the media landscape which is currently swirling with fake news, click bait tittles and constant bombardments of horror, I do think that our media professionals need to start standing for their principles and resist the allure of romantacising love. To start painting a message that relationships in our lives are important and difficult, that is why we need to pay attention in investing the time and energy into them.

“Look, love is a painful, poignant, touching attempt by two flawed individuals to try and meet each other’s needs in situations of gross uncertainty and ignorance about who they are and who the other person is, but we’re going to do our best.” — Alain de Botton

One interesting example Alain raises to shed light on the impossibilities of our modern romantic delusions on love; is in sulking. In sulking, only the people closest to us do we treat with the most unrealistic expectations. Of how they should understand us in our entirety, without us needing to communicate. It is curious how we default into this mood and it ends up hurting the relationship that we cherish the most. I wonder if it is an innate disposition or is it a cultural phenomenon that has been ingrained into us to expect this? Maybe it is in our very human fear of wanting to matter to someone, and this is a yardstick for us to gauge how important we are to them. Krista brings in another idea of acceptance in their conversation on sex, and how it is not really about the sensations of sex that we so desire, but ultimately about someone else accepting us to be part of a really intimate moment. I think this sheds light on the very human nature of our longing for acceptance and belonging. And it does relate to my own fears of wanting to belong.

The conversation then shifts to Alain’s 2016 New York Times article “Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person” which was the most read article that year. What was intriguing was the conversation on the deep loneliness we as a society feel in not being able to lead a perfect life. It comes back to our obsessions on perfection and how we aren’t able to cope with these unrealistic expectations. It gives me a lot of comfort knowing that we aren’t meant to lead a life of perfection. And is a narrative I constantly clash with in my head. I cherish his statement that “You know, it’s normal that you are suffering. Life is suffering,” and it gives me the wisdom to question what we as a society are obsessing over right now.

“Nurture and cherish each other . Having a positive view of your spouse is essential to a healthy marriage, especially if you run into hard times. The overwhelming positive view will create a buffer during trying times. Bottom line, remind yourself of your spouse’s positive qualities — focus on their good qualities and actions” — Laura Heck

Originally published at on August 26, 2018.

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Programme Manager @ Padang & Co | Architectural Designer | Startups, Participatory Design and Social Enterprise sectors

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