Love Part 2
Sadly romantic ideas about love conquering all are tested in the extreme during economic crisis. Feelings get stirred up often rather ugly ones like irritation, anger and loss of sexual desire. Relationships at home and work break down not just because of hard financial realities but facing our psychic realities when the honeymoon ends.
Often our response to anxiety is to create some psychic benzos, resulting in a numbing and a retreat from others. Whether its a penchant for porn or compulsive online flirting, many of us play at intimacy from the safety of our front rooms. Alone. The socially acceptable veneer of casual sexual contact but actually living in what John Steiner describes as a psychic bunker, cutting us off from the possibility of actual bonafide relationships.
This next bit is a bit bleak.
The desire for someone else rests on the extremely high likelihood that we are not perfect combined with the seduction of becoming so by joining up with someone who, in our minds, is.
In the words of George Bernard Shaw, love involves over-estimating the differences between one man and another. Intoxicating-crazy-in-love type situation where we all get to be Beyonce or Elvis pre-peanut-butter-meets-bacon.
Love raises the problem of perfection, when our narcissistic nerves get tweaked by the realisation that we are not complete without an imperfect other. Being faithful to our own imagined omnipotence or the phantasy of perfection comes at the expense of living in the real world where we are dependent on the love of other people and, if you want to get hippy about it, a benevolent universe.
Retreating from intimacy is a major missed opportunity for being the best version of ourselves. Agreeably its a humanistic position that kicks the hell out of romance, less loves-young-dream and more making-the-best-of-a-bad-lot. A psychoanalytic balloon popping, what Yalom famously calls Love’s Executioner, but with this a realistic shot at love.
If you are struggling to love and you feel like packing your psychic bags, just don’t. Instead, take the time to learn from other amateurs about how to love.
Treat yourself and join us at Love: A Guide for Amateurs on February 13th at the Freud Museum in London.