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Relationships • Conflicts

When Love Isn’t Easy

You’re up in the middle of the night and once again, you’re in trouble in love.

Photo by Greta Bartolini on Unsplash

You had another discussion over dinner. You tried to get them to see that sometimes because of X, you do Y and they respond with Z — and it’s unpleasant. And they countered — at first politely and then with great irritation — that even though A, you think B and that’s why C is maddening to them.

Both of you tried — pretty valiantly — to get your points across with calm and kindness. Both of you managed to be more or less polite, more or less restrained, more or less grown up. And by the end of the two hour conversation, you parted in an almost affectionate way and went to sleep in different rooms.

But it’s not enough and you know it. That’s why you’re up at 3am hearing the rain fall. You’re pursued by questions: what do you keep doing wrong in love? Do you even belong together with this obviously very nice person? Why is it so hard? You briefly wonder what it would be like to leave. You picture some new dates. But the picture soon curdles; the horror of starting all over again with someone new; the ubiquity of problems… You would miss your partner; you have a lot of shared memories; there used to be (until quite recently) considerable hope. But they have hurt you badly and you them. There is a whole layer of scars created by the memory of impasses; of conversations that were not properly resolved, of areas in which neither of you could change to please the other. You’re both slowly disappointing one another deeply — and it’s soul-sapping to be a helpless observer of love ratcheting down. 

You don’t know what to do. If only there was someone to speak to, a wise, kind person who would know how to cut through this.

Then you realise that more than a solution, you really want someone who could understand how hard it is that there isn’t one. Someone who might say, I know, I know…

Sometimes we don’t need ‘solutions.’ We need sympathy for our impasses. We need to know that we’re not idiots for having the challenges we have; that other sensible people have been here too; that it could almost be OK to have this difficulty forever. Maybe it’s one of life’s givens. That’s when a bracing pessimistic philosophy is called for, the sort that says: Of course you’re miserable, you’re alive. Of course it’s a mess, welcome to existence. Of course love is impossible, you’re a human being.

This isn’t the first choice naturally. You wanted to sort this out impeccably. The way you sort out other things impeccably: at work, in domestic life. But this isn’t a cupboard, or an accounting document. The number of people who have this area of life properly sorted out is minuscule, perhaps below 1%. You have failed here, that is for sure, but you are not exceptionally stupid for that. You’re averagely mad, averagely emotionally perturbed — and you’re trying to do something exceptionally extraordinarily dementedly hard. Poor you. And poor us.

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