I have always been fascinated with the interpersonal dynamic of couples, and the entire subject of romance. That passionate love you oftentimes see between lovers.
I enjoy listening to the things they say to one another, such as “Be my girl”, or “I want to be your whole world”, or “Would you kill for me?”. All kinds of romantic exchanges between lovers as they sit beside each other watching the sunset, staring into one another’s eyes. All those feelings that you know is boiling up inside of each of them, and coming out in such passionate language.
I oftentimes wonder if I’ll ever be able to say such things to any special someone, because such things do not seem to make much sense to me. If she is to be “my girl”, then what kind of ownership are we implying? Would I want to be a girl’s “whole world”, or would she ever truly want to be mine? What would that even mean? Kill for me? As unromantic as it sounds, it’s doubtful I would ever kill anyone for any reason, being the pacifist that I am.
Am I just unromantic? Is it just that I don’t understand what’s taking place? I’d like to invite you to see, as we try to examine the meaning of such sayings, and see if they make sense.
This entry is going to pertain entirely to the dynamic of romance in couples. At first I’m going to talk about what lovers do not want from those they love, and why they find these things dissatisfying. Next I will discuss what the lover does want, and how the entire process takes place. I will discuss the meanings of all the aforementioned romantic exchanges, and how these (and other) sayings relate to the entire romance dynamic. Next we will discuss the origin of that great feeling of joy which bubbles within the lovers, and why they get these feelings. Next we will get into the subject of seduction and attraction: what they are, why they happen, and if they are or are not a good thing. Finally we will conclude the entire dicussion and make our final conclusions on the entire affair of romance.
Before starting, I think it would be good if we worked with a person to person scenario, instead of abstract concepts of “lover” and “beloved”. For the rest of this entry, I will relate the entire romance dynamic from the standpoint of myself falling in love with a girl, whom we shall call Sarah. I do not know any girl named Sarah, so this name will work just fine. There’s no need to worry about this entry being gender specific, because all the concepts laid down within this journal entry are independent of gender.
II. What The Lover Does Not Want
So off we go, into the world, doing our thing, and all the sudden we start to lay our eyes on that special someone we would like to have a relationship with. In this case, I meet Sarah, that wonderful woman I’ve fallen for. I want a relationship with her. What is it exactly I’m wanting?
Do I want to “possess” her? Do I simply want to be in her presence? To be around her? To see her? To hear her? No. It’s nice to see the woman you have a “crush” on, but we all know ideally I want more than this from her. I want her “heart”. I could work with her at a job, see her everyday, talk with her often, and still not have what I want from her. I could also “have” her without truly “having” her. Under specific circumstances I may be able to get her to marry me, and control her via economic circumstances. She could even be my wife, but I still would be dissatisifed. Even sleeping next to me every night in the same bed would leave me discontent. I would know I only have her on a leash, and that if this rope were cut, she would leave me. She is only with me because of money, or because she needs something from me.
So if I am to acquire her “heart”, does this mean that I want her to freely choose to have a relationship with me? Am I only wanting her to freely decide to be with me? No.
What if Sarah said to me, “I love you because I have freely chosen to love you and because I do not wish to go back on my word.” Would I be satisified with this? In this case she is staying in a relationship with me only because she has a duty to do so, and not because she actually wants to. She is in the relationship not because she wants me, but because she feels the duty to keep her word has higher importance than her own happiness.
So we see I do not want to “possess” her, at least in a primitive sense, and I do not want just her free choice to be with me. But there is one last thing I do not want from Sarah.
This last thing is more subtle than the others. It’s the concept of psychological determinism. If after studies in psychology, biology, physiology, etc, I come to get a notion that my lovely Sarah only loves me because of chemicals shooting around in her body, or any sort of primitive instinctual happenings which are biological, I come to feel that her love is cheapened. We’ve all heard the story of Cupid, shooting his love arrows and putting the ones we’ve dreamed of into a hypnotic spell to love us. Nobody can be satisfied having a relationship with a robot. In fact, I would once again be alone, because the person I “have” is only a thing.
III. The Desires Of The Lover
So we’ve determined I do not just want to “posess” her, in the primitive sense, and I want more than just her free decision to be with me. We mentioned I want her “heart”. But what does this mean? There is obviously some meaning to “be my girl”, which seems to imply a form of posession. There’s no doubt I want to see her, be with her, hold her, and talk with her. I also want her to freely choose to be my girl, but what else? What’s missing? How do I acquire her heart? What am I after?
This is where the saying, “I want to be your everything” comes into play. “I want to be your reason for living”. “I want to be your dream come true”. Are these just nice sounding sayings we throw at each other, or do they really have meaning? Actually they do. They capture what I’m wanting from Sarah. They capture what the lover wants from the person loved.
Let’s take this example from the full extreme of romantic love. Full, ideal romantic love. The perfect romantic love.
Ideally I want to be “the whole world” to Sarah. “To be her everything”. The basis of everything she judges to be valuable. The end of all ends. I want her to never do anything unless she’s doing it for me.
What does it mean to be “the whold world” to somebody? And isn’t this backward? Shouldn’t I want to give the whole world to Sarah?
Both of these statements are correct at the same time. I want to give the whole world to Sarah, and I also want to be the source of it. This is what romantic love is. I want to be involved here. This is romantic love.
You see, we are living in Jason’s world right now. My world. I am in love with Sarah. I want Sarah. This is my mind. This is what I want. Sarah on the other hand, who knows. She may hate me entirely, and find me completely disgusting. But we must first discuss things from my perspective (the lover). We will get to winning Sarah over next (seduction and attraction), but first we must discuss what I want from this entire affair.
To do so I will have to get slightly more technical, so I can explain some deeper psyhological aspects of this phenomenon. Remember, this is Jason (me) having romantic love for Sarah.
I want to narrow Sarah’s focus down from the whole world, to just me. I want her to forget about the world, and everyone else in it. I want the rest of the world to vanish into darkness, leaving just me and her. I’m not talking about just other people, I mean literally other “things” of the world as well.
Not only this, I want her to be perfectly content with this world, which only contains me. When all else is stripped away, and every aspect of Jason is laid piece by piece before her in this world where only we exist, she finds her happiness and all she could ever desire. This is what is meant by “be your world”, “be your everything”, “be all you need”.
Whenever Sarah chooses to limit herself to just this world, where I become the only source of her happiness, she then becomes the ideal “my girl”. Otherwise we could say not only that she’s “my girl” but also that she’s “the world’s girl”. Or “Greg’s girl”, or “Andrew’s girl”. We are all in a fight over her. I may even have most of her, but it’s still disputed whose girl she is. If she finds all her happiness in me, then she truly is just “my girl” and my girl only.
Whenever I become her entire world, I become “the reason she wants to continue living”. I also become the end of all ends. The source of all her value judgments. I am all that is valuable. Outside of me, there is nothing worthwhile.
This is where the discussion of, “would you kill for me?”, “would you steal for me?” talks come from. Nothing is more important than me, not even morality. If she has to do something immoral to once again acquire me, it does not matter. I am everything worthwhile. I am the end of all morals. I am happiness and goodness.
If you’ll recall from a past journal entry I wrote about “Noticing what’s worthwhile”. In that entry I talked about the underlying concept of what a person will and will not notice. I basically concluded that a person notices what he’s looking for. Now this leads to another interesting dynamic in romantic love to be noted – noticing.
Now I want to be Sarah’s everything. Let’s say we are in a restaurant, and during our discussion I mention various architectural aspects and why I find that interesting. Let’s say I mention how I love doors with big brass handles.
So the next day we are out on a walk together, and we walk by a building. Sarah gives me a wink, pokes me and says, “Hey, lookie there” and points toward the door with brass handles. I’m filled with joy and smile. I might even kiss her. Why am I so happpy? She noticed that door with brass handles because of me. Otherwise, she would not have noticed it. She would have walked right by it. I am the reason she noticed something outside “our” world. There is just us, but if she is going to notice anything “outside” of us, it is to be some aspect of me. Something that I am behind. Remember, I am her everything. All else is irrelevant. This is also why if Sarah was to tell me “You make me a better person” it would be so powerful. I am revealing goodness to her, and this goodness is me.
I want to be the reason this whole world outside of us even exists. To Sarah, I want the entire outside world to be undesireable unless she’s bringing it before me as a gift. Ideally, I want her to only notice things for me. This world exists for me, and she is my girl, and I am her everything, her entire reason for being.
You’ll notice in this scenario that I can never be used. I can never be a “tool”. I can never be a means to an end. I’m completely safe from ever being abused by Sarah. Everything that I am is cherished in every possible way.
Not only am I cherished, but I also lack nothing. I am everything, and outside of me there is nothing. To be ugly, I’d have to be compared to someone pretty. The other handsome men out there who look much better than me are never noticed. I can never be looked at as unintelligent. What else is there worth knowing besides me? There’s no purpose for knowledge if it’s not to get something for me. I am the end of all knowledge. I can not be cowardly, shy, or boring.
To everyone else, I may be ugly, shy, and boring. To Sarah, these are meaningless statements. Ugly compared to what? If I’m shy and wish to hide in a corner, Sarah will wish to crawl in the corner with me and enjoy every minute of it. If I’m boring, and the best way I can envison to spend my day is to sit in the park and stare at the trees, then she’ll come right along with me and love the entire affair.
This is why I would be saddened if Sarah would ask me something to the effect of, “If I never would have come to that party, and we’d never had met, could I (or you) have loved someone else?” I am no longer everything. Others, and the world have been reintroduced. I was God, the perfect everything and immutable source of all value. Now she’s saying it could have been otherwise. The outside world is back. She’s saying there is more to existence than just me and her.
This is why lovers want to be brought together by fate. By chance. They want it to be destiny. After all, they were “made for each other”. It could not have been otherwise. This is also why lovers like to be alone during romantic times. When the two reveal the most about themselves, leaving themselves exposed, they want it to only be between just them. They do not want outsiders looking in judging.
You may recall my last journal entry I wrote on self-consciousness and shame. I said that self-consciousness, or shame, is brought into effect when you are judged from the outside by another person, and because we are imperfect, we are ashamed, and wish to hide our imperfections. Now between me and Sarah, there is no longer a need for such worries. No more shame, and no more judgments. To Sarah, I am the standard. To Sarah, I am perfect. I no longer have to improve, and worry about keeping such standards.
As long as I’m with Sarah, I am no longer self-conscious. She loves me, and I no longer have to worry about what image I’m projecting. With her, I can live how I truly wish to live, and not worry about impressing anyone or putting on airs. She loves me how I am, and outside of me, there is nothing. This is the meaning of the consummation of marriage, when the lovers can finally expose themselves nude to one another. They no longer have to hide any aspect of themselves, because there is no reason to. To each other, they are both perfect, and no longer judge one another.
This is what you hear over and over in pop songs. Take this song excerpt from Jessica Simpson’s – ‘With You’:
“With nothing but a T-shirt on
I never felt so beautiful
Baby as I do now
Now that I’m with you”
Or take an excerpt from the beginning, this is Jessica wanting to “be the whole world” to the one she loves.
“The real me is a southern girl with her Levis on and an open heart
Wish I could save the world, like I was super girl”
You get the idea. She wants to be loved. Wanting to be important, wanting to be famous, wanting to be pretty are all desires of wanting to “be everything”, and the lover wants to be everything because he or she wants to be loved. People who are loved do not dream of being super-heros. They have no need for super powers. What would they use them for? It’s the ones who are not loved who dream of such things. They want powers to change their reality, and to impress the others who do not love them. To win over their love. To show the rest of us that they are worth loving.
When I want Sarah to love me, I want to be able to expose “Jason” to her completely nude. No defenses. No walls. No protection. Just the raw Jason, just how he is, and I want her to find everything she could ever want in that. I want that nude Jason to “be her everything”.
But why go through all this? Why do I want Sarah’s love? What’s going on?
Overall, I’m dissatisfied with just myself. I cannot find meaning in my life. I look at life and think, “What is the point?” We can find no meaning, because there is no meaning to life without love. Love of others, or love of things, but there has to be love for something. Outside of that, everything is meaningless and pointless. This is what the bachelor feels and is expressed by saying, “I feel lonely”.
If nobody loves you, you feel like the old man in the retirement home, who is too old to contribute anything, watching the same old sports programs, having those short conversations with the nurses about the weather as they administer medication, and waiting to die. And when I say love, I’m not talking about the normal sense of “love” you find in how most grandchildren love their grandpa. I’m talking about a reason for being. I’m talking about that romantic love we mentioned earlier, where there are aspects of this old man’s being that are adding value to some other person’s life. Some usefulness and contribution to add to the world. The more of this he has, the happier he will be, and the less of this he has, the unhappier he will be.
Depression is the opposite of happiness. Depression is a lack of purpose in being. Depression comes when aspects of your being are not cherished or being used for anything worthwhile. You believe you are adding no value to life. Human beings are beings of purpose. If you take away a man or woman’s reason for living, you’re left with a case of depression. They are looking for a purpose to live, and love is the force that can once again restore meaning to life.
In my last entry on ‘Self-consciousness and Pride’ I said that our past is freezing behind us, turning to stone and chasing us. Technically this is a nice metaphorical way of stating that a being who does not assert his free will toward some purpose he has in the future is dead. People do not ever randomly just assert their free will. They only assert their will for some purpose. A reason. Once you hit the threshold, where a person feels they have no purpose or reason for living – no hope for the future – they commit suicide. We must remember though, the person who commits suicide was dead before their physical heart stopped beating. Loneliness and depression come from this freezing, as death is catching up to you. The greater the feeling, the closer you are to death.
Loneliness must be properly understood. It has nothing to do with being alone. People oftentimes do not understand why successful individuals, who are adding valuable contributions to society, can live in isolation, completely innodated in their work, and be perfectly happy without having a significant other. To understand this we must examine the core principles found in a relationship which tend to bring about fulfillment.
Happiness only comes to a couple if they feel they are needed for one another’s success. If they are working together toward common goals and purposes. If some aspect of their being is adding value to the life of the significant other. This is where the fulfillment comes from. It does not come from the fact that you have someone living with you, sleeping in your bed. You see many couples who are unhappy, and this is the reason why. A person living alone, who believes his work is adding something valuable to society, and is appreciated within his peer group, can be just as fulfilled if not more than a happy couple. The principles which guide fulfillment and happiness are independent of marriage, or having a “significant other”.
If the woman is simply a means to sex, or means to money, or means to anything else material, you will be unhappy with her. She’ll be like every other means to an end. She’ll be used up, and discarded once you’re done with her. On the other hand, if you love her, you’ll be wanting to give your best aspects of yourself to her, and this is where you will find the fulfillment, because this will give the relationship meaning.
Now back to the couple dynamic. If a free will being, who has the choice to choose to do anything, and be anything, freely chooses you of all the things in the world, and says you’re the best thing life has to offer, or even better, you’re the ONLY thing in life at all, then you’ve found meaning. This new justification for your life has filled you with joy. A pointless life has now been filled with purpose. You now have the joyful obligation to give yourself to the one you love. You take up this new responsibility with great pleasure. This is the basis of fulfillment in relationships. Without it, the “relationship” is no different than being alone.
Now let’s talk about the next topic. I now need to convice Sarah that she wants to love me.
IV. The Lover’s Problem – The Need For Seduction
You may have just finished reading this talk of love, and sat back daydreaming thinking, “Mmmm. How wonderful. I wish it worked like that. I’d love to be loved like that.” I think we all would, but we’re not done with the dilemma of love.
Let’s furthur elaborate on Sarah and I’s situation. Let’s say we work together and I see this woman every day. Unfortunately for me, there are many other men out there, many of whom are are better looking, smarter, and funnier than I am. I want Sarah to love me just how I am, and be her everything, but why would Sarah want to do this? I’m the nerdy philosopher, who reads books nobody understands, and plays Final Fantasy video games. I polish my Squall action figure, and squeeze my Cactuar plush in anguish. She’s the girl with options, beautiful, and witty. I’m the boring nerd in love with a girl I have little chance of acquiring.
It’s a shame I can’t instantly plop Sarah down in the love relationship I would like. I dream of Sarah telling me, “Jason, I want you to be my everything. I want you to be the source of all my values. Everything that is good in this world is you.” Unfortunately, we all know it doesn’t work like this. You must win the girl over.
I want Sarah to love me, but in order to get her to do so, I have to do just the opposite of what I’m wanting to do. From our discussion just a second ago we know if we’re wanting to be loved, we’re wanting to escape judgments and to be everything to our beloved. We want to escape to another world where only the two of us exist, and both find our full contentment and happiness in each other. We don’t want to be a means to an end, but that’s exactly what I’ve just done! What am I doing? What in the world is going on? I’m having to make myself into an object on display before her, and trying to win over her affection.
Instead of being free from her judgments, I expose myself to her harshest judgments. I put on my best clothes, fix myself as nice as I can look, and treat her with whatever behavior I feel would be best to win over her affection. And if Sarah is like most women, she makes sure to let you know at all times that she has other options, and to treat her well. We make ourselves into a means to her ends, in hoping that she’ll like us so much that she’ll want to keep us around, but what will that get us? Are we looking for that primitive “possession” we mentioned earlier? You’re not wanting this. You’re wanting her “heart” remember? That’s not going to get what you’re after.
But we all think it will. When it comes to relationships, we act like we’re in the shopping center. There’s a big shipment of fruit in and we all come in to observe the new goods. We grab what we like and leave the rest. Find what you like and take it home with you.
This leads to all kinds of fighting and madness. There’s a limited supply, and some fruit seem better than the others. Everyone gets in fights, and jealousy abounds. One person wants another person’s fruit, and we have envy. Everyone’s out to get the best fruit and the most enjoyment they can find.
They think their joy will come from the goodness of the “person” or things they acquire but this is not the case. You see people all the time, married to wonderful people who love them, with wonderful families, and they are miserable. They have forgotten that the joy comes from giving your best to the other. Outside of this you’ll find no meaning, and will be depressed. You’re keeping yourself and wanting to take from the other. You turn the other person into an object, which you are to use as a means to get something else. You’ll find it all pointless and meaningless. You’ll turn all people into things, to acquire more dead things. There will be no purpose to anything. No life anywhere. All you’ll see before you is dead matter, and you’ll be dead as well. You’ll be trapped in a dead world.
The only life that exists outside of yourself is that person next to you, but if you make him or her into a thing, an object to be used, you’re left in the dead world. Left with lifeless matter all around you, and no purpose to anything. This can lead only to depression.
This is a major contradiction to note about human nature. To want anything but giving to another life, is to leave yourself in a dead, lifeless, meaningless world. Humans are given the choice: You can give with no thought of return, or you can die. We have no other option.
This is the contradiction in human romantic love. You have to do just the opposite of what you’re wanting from the other person to get what you’re wanting. You want to avoid judgment, but to do so, you put yourself under the hardest judgment. You want to avoid self-consciousness but in order to do so you become the most extreme form of self-consciousness possible.
I’ve always found this entire process disgusting. Though there are some confusions related to justice, for the moment let me ask you: Is “earned” love as good as love simply given? If you worked hard for it, after all, don’t you “deserve” it? Then you think about it and think, “Love deserved is not admirable. This kind of love is simply justice, and you’ll get it from near anyone. It is love when you do not deserve it that is admirable.”
This leads me to think the girl I work hard for is pointless. She loves the objects you give her. It’s just a selfless quest to dance around in the clown suit the entertain your “lover”. If you’re in this mindset, there’s probably one thing on your mind: “I do this for her, but she will give me more of what I want in return. It’s worth it.”
So should we wait and let someone selflessly serve us before loving them? So instead of chasing the woman, let them chase us instead? Now if everyone takes this extreme mindset, and waits to be served before they feel anyone is worthy of their love, then no love will ever take place. Someone has to selflessly serve another before anything can get rolling. We’ve told the person we love that “Serve you? Why should I? How disgusting. Serve me selflessly, and I’ll see if you’re worthy of my affections”, but then we throw the same back-hand standard on her and ask her to go through with the disgusting process, instead of us.
Love can never be tied to any sense of justice. If there’s any sense of “earning” involved in the love, you’ve already introduced a flawed term into the equation. Anyone wanting to be “chased” has already introduced death, a lack of meaning and purpose, into their love relationship. You’ll only get the love you’re wanting if someone completely selflessly serves the other. Justice will not get you what you’re wanting.
The overall lesson of seduction is this: If your view towards others is a view of means toward ends, then you will objectify them all toward some other purpose, and if that purpose is not toward a living being then it will neccessarily be toward a dead thing. There’s that cheesy saying, “If you’re not giving, you’re not living.” It’s true, however. You’ll surround yourself with dead things, and after you’ve acquired the dead things you want, you’ll be left only with death all around you. A purposeless existence, living in a giant ghost town.
I suppose they could argue back, “How do you know that the universe can’t infinitely mold itself to perpetually give me something to pursue.” I can say this though: You’ll be alone in your pursuit, and you can’t give to dead things. You’ll be left depressed.
V. Absolute Reciprocated Romantic Love
Now we come to an important love dilemma, and that is what would happen if two people love each other in the full romantic love which we talked about earlier. If both gave themselves away to the other, and made the person they loved their everything, their whole word, and their reason for existence.
You may recall a past entry of mine: ‘The Consequences of Altruism’. If you’ve read that entry, then you know the end of this matter – Idleness. The moment that both of the people commit themselves to one another in this full romantic sense we have idleness. Both take on the being of the other, and both of their beings freeze into stone. They both become perfectly content with the other, and there is idleness. There is no longer change of any kind.
If the self of a person is defined as asserting their free will toward some goal in the future, and death is defined as no longer being able to assert your free will, then we come to an unintuitive yet important conclusion:
Mutual romantic love leads to death. If love is reciprocated in the ideal sense, both of the lovers die.
Who would’ve thought. That’s the last thing you’d think leads to death, but, it does.
I gave an example in an old journal entry of two altruistic brothers having a conversation: “What would you like to do brother?”. “What I want to do is of no importance. What would you like to do brother?”. “No, what I want to do is of no importance. What would you like to do, brother?”. “No, what I want to do is of no importance. What would you like to do, brother?”. And they go on ad infinitum.
You have an infinite reference to one another. Like two mirrors side by side, reflecting each other’s image, and the light bounces back and forth for all eternity with no change in the image being projected. As long as they say to one another, “I want to be you”, and the beloved replies, “I want to be you”, they will point to one another indefinitely.
Of course, this is death, defined by no longer asserting your free will. Maybe you could argue that they’ve transcended the world and made perfect peace with God, man, and the material world. I don’t know, that’s kind of mystical talk to me, but I do know this: they will no longer assert their will if they are still alive. They would lie there staring at each other until they both died and rotted away.
We all know that to love someone in the full sense you give yourself to them, selflessly. Your individual self dies and you give it to the one you love. In this case they have both killed themselves and handed their dead corpse to their lover.
VI. Conclusive Remarks
There seems to be a core fundamental flaw in the basis of romantic love. If we want to be loved, we ask the other to take on our being. We want this to happen because life is meaningless and we try to add meaning to our own existence by having the beloved (Sarah) make the lover (me) her everything.
If Sarah were to agree to this configuration, she would take on my being entirely. She would become my clone. We would become “one” as people oftentimes like to refer to couples. I would find joy in giving her myself (my being), because I have found purpose, and if possible, she would enjoy the configuration herself as well.
If a couple were to enter into a mutual romantic love, then both of them die. They are two mirrors pointing to one another, and their selves are both lost to one another. They become one nothingness. One frozen image of whatever they were when they decided to enter into that state of love.
If the entire world were to enter into a large orgy of ideal romantic love, then we would all point our mirrors toward one another, reflect each other, and all kill ourselves and hand our corpses to one another. Global suicide. I suppose this is one way to unite the world, but not the best I can think of.
In reality, lovers rarely enter into perfect ideal love configurations, and we’re left with the typical scenarios of seduction and attraction. These are typically kind of half-breed love configurations, half rooted in selfishness and half rooted in love to the other.
The more you are selfish, the more everyone becomes a means to an end. With a person who is completley selfish, every other living person existing along with you becomes an object to be used, and all that is left is a dead universe, a lifeless existence left entirely to the selfish individual. You have objectified every other life into dead objects to be used. Life becomes meaningless and the selfish individual is neccessarily depressed and all alone. There can be no meaning. Without meaning, you cannot assert your will toward any future goal, and you are left with death.
The more you are unselfish, and give away yourself, you also die.
We are a strange existence, with death surrounding our relationships on both sides. Not a cheery philosophy. We must neccessarily mix selfishness and altruism to survive. We must retain some aspect of ourselves to continue living, but must also serve others, at least in some respect, to give this life any meaning.
What is the core lesson to learn from all this? “Perfect” relationships are simply veils of death. By neccessity relationships must be imperfect or we all become “one”, handing our dead corpses to one other. I suppose the pursuit of an ideal alchemy for selfishness and altruism would be ethics?