Insights on love

According to Swiss-British philosopher Alain de Botton, we all hold onto some romantic notions about love that cause nothing but trouble. He offers to help us keep a realistic perspective of long-term relationships, and on our blog we share one of his insights.  

Your partner is not perfect
The romantic ideal is this: Some day you are going to find someone who is nothing but good for you, a soul mate with whom life is easier and who understands you completely. And so when we fight with our partner, we’re subconsciously angry that they turned out to be not so perfect after all. But no matter how good a match someone is for you, they are going to make mistakes. Romantics believe the heart is pure, but many aspects of the human character are not so pretty. Humans may be fundamentally good beings, but more in the way that a child is “good” and pure. And if you have kids of your own, you know what that means: Sometimes they’re just impossible. When a child is difficult, we make excuses: They’re tired, or in pain or overstimulated. When your partner acts difficult or makes a mistake, we get angry. If your basic premise were, “My partner is a child”, you’d feel gentler toward them. As Saint Augustine said: “We are all corrupt, broken, sinful. To love is to forgive each other’s mistakes.” I like that premise better. We are broken angels. If you can accept that your partner is imperfect and not be angry about that, you are ready for a long relationship.

Find more insights in our Love and Life special

Text Jocelyn de Kwant Photo Shutterstock