chapter 1. Relationships

Finding Closure after a breakup

At the root of many malfunctioning relationships and unhappy break ups lie two stories that run alongside one another but never manage to align or converge, about who has done what…

chapter 1. Relationships

Should sex ever be a reason to break up?

The most basic test of the viability of any modern relationship involves a criterion that would have appeared extremely odd to a French aristocrat in 1755 or to a Scottish crofter…

chapter 1. Relationships

When a relationship fails, who rejected whom?

When a relationship ends, we expect it to be fairly easy to determine who ended it and who wished it to continue: the person who said they wanted out, who explicitly…

chapter 1. Relationships

The fear of not being able to cope practically without a partner

When it comes to relationships, our age has a firm belief in distributing practical tasks equally: both parties are meant to display comparable competence at, and enthusiasm for, earning money and…

chapter 1. Relationships

The Fear of Ending a Relationship

Let us imagine that we know what we want – to leave a relationship – but that we are suffering from a problem which inhibits us from acting on our wishes:…

chapter 1. Relationships

What About the Children When Divorce is on the Cards?

For most of human history, people didn’t stay in relationships for love. They stayed in them in order to protect their assets, ensure their status, pool their resources, synchronise farming implements…

chapter 1. Relationships

What If I Just Repeat the Same Mistakes Next Time?

On our way out of a relationship, we might be stopped by a highly unfamiliar and deeply perturbing thought: what if we were – somehow – a bit to blame as…

chapter 1. Relationships

The Terror of Being on our Own

In the privacy of our minds, one thought – highly shameful by nature – may haunt us as we evaluate whether to stay in or leave an unsatisfactory relationship: what if…

chapter 1. Relationships

Are My Expectations Too High?

When we contemplate leaving a relationship, it is usually because – in the privacy of our hearts – we harbour expectations of being able to meet another, and in key ways,…

chapter 1. Relationships

Overcoming Nostalgia for a Past Relationship

After considerable agony, we’ve left a relationship. We’re on our own now – and, when we can bear to be honest, it’s a little harder than we expected. We aren’t going…

chapter 1. Relationships

The Feeling of Being Back in Love with the Person You're About to Leave

Over the years, it’s been so difficult with our partner. There’s been a long history of harsh words, accusations, insults, shouting, slammed doors, resentments and aggressive silences. It all culminated, sensibly…

chapter 3. Self-Knowledge

Becoming Free

Some of the reason why adult life can be greyer and more miserable than it should be is that our earliest years are generally made up of a prolonged and highly…

chapter 4. Sociability

The Need for Kindness

When we are little, one of the first, and most boring, lessons we ever receive is in the primordial importance of being – as adults put it – ‘kind’. It’s because…

chapter 3. Self-Knowledge

The One Subject You Really Need to Study: Your Own Childhood

There is perhaps no greater priority in childhood than to acquire an education: it’s in the early years that we have to push ourselves with special vigour to learn the lessons,…

chapter 5. Calm

No One Knows

We start our lives surrounded by people who know a great deal more than we ever could. To a four year old, a very average adult is a miracle of supreme…

chapter 3. Self-Knowledge

No One Cares

We tend to begin our lives with a deeply unrepresentative experience: that of being surrounded by people who care to an extraordinary extent about us. We look up from the dreams…

chapter 3. Self-Knowledge

You Don't Need Permission

When we first arrive on the earth, nothing is more alien to our minds than the idea of needing permission. We simply try to do whatever we want: when the carpet…

chapter 2. Work

What They Forget to Teach You at School

The modern world treats education with unique seriousness. Never in the history of humanity have so much thought and so many resources been devoted to the development of the minds of…