ABOUT THIS EPISODE

The philosopher and creator of The School of Life. The question we should ask on an early date is, “How are you crazy? I’m crazy like this…” The real work of love that is in the stumbling and evolving, skill and surviving — not in the falling. The joy of flirting.

What if the first question we asked on a date were, “How are you crazy? I’m crazy like this”? Philosopher and writer Alain de Botton’s essay “Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person” was one of the most-read articles in The New York Times in recent years. As people and as a culture, he says, we would be much saner and happier if we reexamined our very view of love. Nowhere do we realistically teach ourselves and our children how love deepens and stumbles, survives and evolves over time, and how that process has much more to do with ourselves than with what is right or wrong about our partner. The real work of love is not in the falling, but in what comes after.

Alain de Botton is the founder and chairman of The School of Life. His books include “Religion for Atheists,” “How Proust Can Change Your Life,” and the novel “The Course of Love.”

English
United States

TRANSCRIPT

00:00:00On being is brought to you by the john templeton foundation the templeton foundation supports academic research and civil dialogue on the deepest most perplexing questions facing humankind Who are we Why are we here and where we going Tto Learn more please visit templeton dot org's the templeton foundation
00:00:19Stay curious How different would our relationships be if the question we asked on an early date was how are you crazy I'm crazy like this and then understood that the real work of love is not in the falling but in what comes after Alando batons essay Why you
00:00:38will marry the wrong person is one of the most read articles in the new york times of recent years As people and as a culture he says we would be much saner and happier if we re examined our very view of love Nowhere do we realistically teach ourselves
00:00:55and our children how love deepens and stumbles survives and evolves over time and how that process has much more to do with ourselves than with what is right or wrong about our partner way must fiercely resist the idea that true love must mean conflict free love that the
00:01:16course of true love is smooth It's not the course of true love is rocky on bumpy at the best of times that's the best we can manage as creatures We are it's no fault of mine or no fault of yours it's to do with being human and the
00:01:30more generous we can be towards that floored humanity the better chance we'll have off doing the true hard work of love I'm krista tippet and this is on being Alando bhutan is the founder and chairman of the school of life a gathering of courses workshops and talks on
00:01:55meaning and wisdom for modern lives with branches around the world he first became known for his book how proust can change your life i spoke with him in two thousand seventeen so we did speak a few years ago but on a very different topic and i'm really excited
00:02:13to be speaking with you about this subject which is so close to every life and you know as i've prepared for this i realise that you've actually i mean i knew that you'd written the novel on love a long time ago but you've really been consistently attending to
00:02:31this subject and building your thoughts on it and your body of work on it was really interesting to me i mean you wrote on love at the age of twenty three which is so young and you were already thinking about this so deeply i mean there's i think
00:02:47this is the first line every fall into love involves the triumph of hope over in college well i mean i think you know what what's striking is that our idea of what love is our idea of what is normal in love is so not normally so admiral and
00:03:02so abnormal and sophisticate ourselves for not having a normal love life even though no one seems to have any for not having been loved perfectly right right so we have this idea deal of what love is and then these very very unhelpful narratives off love and therein everywhere
00:03:19you know they're in movies and songs and we mustn't blame songs and movies too much but but if you say to people look love is a you know a painful poignant touching attempt by two floored individuals to try and meet each other's needs in situations off gross uncertainty
00:03:36and ignorance about who they are and who the other person is but you know we're going to do our best that's a much more generous starting point to the acceptance of ourselves as floored creatures seems to me what love really is you know love is at its most
00:03:53necessary when we a week when we feel incomplete and we must show love to one another at those points so we've got these two contrasting stories on dh we get the modeled well and and also i mean and you know i feel like this should be obvious but
00:04:07you just touched on art and culture and how that could help us complex if i our understanding of this and one of the things you point out you know about i don't know i don't know when harry met sally or four weddings and a funeral one of the
00:04:18things that's wrong with all of that is that they a lot of this was to take us up to the wedding they take us through the falling and don't see that i think you've written somewhere he said why's your culture than i was recognized at the start of
00:04:33a relationship is not the high point that romantic artisans it is merely the first step of a far longer more ambivalent and yet quietly audacious journey on which we should direct our intelligence and scrutiny that's right I mean way are strangely obsessed by the run up to love
00:04:52and what we call a love story is really just the beginning ofthe love story but we'd leave that out on dh so but you know most of us were interested in long term relationships were not just interested in the moment that gets us into love we're interested in
00:05:04the survival of love over time i've been a lot of what you are pointing at the work of loving over a long span of time is inner work right and every hard to film that but you know i'm very intrigued by how you talked about the ancient greeks
00:05:22and their pedagogical view of love there he is i mean that's that's fascinating because one of the greatest insults that you can level at a lover in the modern world apparently is to say i want to change you You know the ancient greeks had a view of love
00:05:39which was essentially based around education that what love means love is a benevolent process whereby two people try to teach each other how to become the best versions of themselves season where they tried there they're committed to increasing the admirable characteristics that they visited the earth and that
00:05:56they possess in the other person possesses that's right that's right you know there's your most recent book on this subject is the course of love which is a novel but it's a novel that actually i feel you kind of weave a pedagogical narrator voice into it do you
00:06:11think that's fair well that's been enough so woven into the into the narrative and you say one point this's the relationship pertain robbie and why am i what's the kirsten and you know you said at one point their relationship is secretly yet mutually marked by a project of
00:06:30improvement which i think we all recognize and then there's this moment where you say after the dinner party robbie is sincerely trying to bring about an evolution in the personality of the wife he loves but his chosen technique is distinctive to call kirsten materialistic too shouted her and
00:06:46then later to slam two doors that's what we all recognize that scene by the time we've humiliated someone they're not gonna learn anything the only conditions as we know with children the only conditions under which anyone learns the conditions of incredible sweetness tenderness patients that's how we learn
00:07:05but the problem is that you know the failures of our relationships have made us so anxious that we can't be the teachers we should be in there for some often you know genuine legitimate things that we want to get across are just you know come across his insults
00:07:20as attempts to wound and are therefore rejected and you know the the arteries of the relationships start to fun someone recently said to me ah i want to carry so how do you respond to this You know it was a wise jewish mother who had said to them
00:07:38men mary women with the intention that they with the idea that they will stay the same women marry men with the idea that they will change which is obviously a huge generalization but it gosh it made a lot of sense to me even in terms of my own
00:07:54life and in terms of what you see around me yeah i mean i would argue that both genders want to change one another and they both have an idea of who the lover should be and i think you know a useful exercise that sometimes psychologists you know level
00:08:12feuding couples is they say things like if you could accept that your partner would never change how would you feel about that sometimes pessimism a certain degree of pessimism can be a friend of love you know one once we accept that actually it's really very hard for people
00:08:28to be another way with sometimes radio you know we don't need people to be perfect Is that the good news We just need people to be able to explain their imperfections to us in good time before they've hurt us too much with them on dh with a certain
00:08:45degree of humility that that's already an enormous it's a lot to ask but it so it's also it sounds reasonable right i mean if we could really have that in our minds early enough on in a relationship that's right on dh you know almost from the first date
00:09:03yeah you know that my view of what one should talk about on a first date is not showing off not you know putting forward one's accomplishments but almost quite the opposite you know one should say well how are you crazy i'm crazy like this you know and there
00:09:18should be a mutual acceptance that two damaged people are trying to get together because pretty much all of us there a few there few totally healthy people but pretty much all of us reach dating age with you know some scars some wounds on dh sometimes we we bring
00:09:32two adult relationship some of the same hope that a young child might have had of their parent and of course an adult adult relationship can't be like that it's got to accept that the person across the table or on the other side of the bed is just human
00:09:47which means full of flaws fears etcetera and not some sort of superhuman yeah and i think that that question that it is it could be a standard question on an early date and how are you crazy there's also something that you're getting it that it almost seems like
00:10:04we we must be hardwired to do this although you know one of the wonderful things were learning in the twenty first century so we can change our brains but the way you say it and on love in a scene in on love is you know boy meets girl
00:10:17and and you start to the enamored and in details of this new person and find things in common like i don't know both of us had two large freckles on the total foot and then you were you know instinctively and this happens very quickly he teases out an
00:10:37entire personality from the details but also i you know also what i know from my own life is you tend to ah i think we when we fall in love with another person we magnify in our minds those things that are immediately in rapturous and craft our idea
00:10:57of the other person almost exclusively around those wonderful qualities which is not fair to them or to us that's right And we you know we feel in a way that we know them already and we have we impose our way don't dent which you know also explains another
00:11:15phenomenon that i'm fascinated by you probably have noticed in both novels is the phenomenon of being in a sulk of sulking because sulking is is a fascinating situation which takes you right into the heart ofthe certain romantic delusions because what's fascinating about sulking is that we don't sulk
00:11:33with everybody we only get into socks with people that we feel should understand us but rather unforgivably haven't understood us so in other words it's when it's when we are in love with people and they're in love with us that we take particular offence when they get things
00:11:48wrong because the kind of the governing assumption off the relationship is this person should know what's in my mind ideally without me needing to tell yes if i need to spell this out to you you don't love me on dh that's why you know you'll go into the
00:12:03bathroom bolt the door and when your partner says you know is anything wrong you're going and the reason is that they should be able to read through the bath from panel into your soul and know what's wrong and that such an extraordinary man yes way see it and
00:12:20children i mean this is how little children behave they literally think that their parents khun read their minds it takes a long time to realize that the only way that one person can really learn about another is if it's explained to them preferably using words use your world
00:12:34one thanks but you know people when people always say communicate i mean you know we have to be generous towards the reasons why we don't and we don't because we're operating with this mad idea that true love means intuitive understanding and you know i go crazy you know
00:12:49people say things like i met someone you know the loveliest thing is they understood me without needing to speak you know i thought so many alarm bells go off when i hear that because i think okay well good luck in this instance but you know if you guys
00:13:02get together that's not going to go on forever no one can you know intuitively understand another beyond quite limited range of topics your your children how old are your children They're still pretty young right yeah that tenant ok yeah so you know as the asm now that i
00:13:18have young adult children when you hear that coming out of the mouth of your twenty one year old you know he should under he and he should know he should just know and you just but i also i also what i also know is that grasping this what
00:13:34you're talking about his it's where it's it is the work of life right it is the work of a work of love and you know but it's interesting that that you know you mentioned your your children children general because i think it sounds eerie but i think that
00:13:47one of the most one of the kind of things that we can do with our lover is to see them as children and not not win fanta allies them but when we're dealing with children as parents as adults we're incredibly generous in the way we interpret behavior and
00:14:02if a child says if you walk home on a child says i hate you right you immediately go okay it's that's not quite true probably they're tired they're hungry something's gone wrong somewhat they're tooth hurts something we're looking around for a benevolent interpretation that khun just shave off
00:14:18some of them or you know depressing dispiriting aspects of their behavior and we do this naturally with children and yet we do it so seldom with adults you know when an adult meets an adult and they say you know i've not had a good day leave me alone
00:14:34rather than saying okay i'm just going to go behind the facade of this understanding that's actually not about me that's about what's going on inside them today right right exactly we don't do that we take it all completely personally and so i think you know the work of
00:14:49love is to try when we can manage it we can't always to go behind the front off this rather you know depressing challenging behaviour and try and ask where it might have come from love is doing that work to ask oneself where's this rather aggressive pained non communicative
00:15:09unpleasant behaviour come from if we can do that we're on the road to knowing a little bit about what love really is i think no I'm krista tippet And this is on being today A conversation about love with writer and philosopher aland a baton No We owe you
00:15:49know i'd love to talk about your use this word pessimism a little while ago and i would love to dig into that a little bit more and what what you're really talking about is being reality based um as opposed to playing ideal based there's a beautiful video that
00:16:08i've i've shared that's out there i think it's a darkest truth about love right that's the title isn't yes that's right exactly thank you i'd like to talk through you know some of these core truths that fly in the face of this way we go around behaving and
00:16:25that movies have taught us to behave and possibly our parents taught us to behave these core truths that can put us on the foundation of reality yes i mean that's very useful we couldn't chisel them in granite i mean look what what the first important truth is you're
00:16:42crazy you know that we're all of us that all of us are deeply damaged people the great enemy off laugh good relationships good friendships is self righteousness if we start by accepting that of course were you know only just holding it together and in many ways really quite
00:16:58challenging people you know i think if somebody thinks that they're easy to live with that by definition going to be pretty hard and don't have much of an understanding of themselves i think you know there's certain wisdom that begins by knowing that of course you like everyone else
00:17:12is pretty difficult and for this knowledge is very shielded from us you know our parents don't tell us our ex lovers they knew it but they could be bothered to tell us they you know sacked us well by the time they tell us where we're dismissing what they
00:17:25say anyway well that's right on our friends don't tell us because they just want a pleasant evening with us so we left with you know a bubble off ignorance about our own natures and often you know you could be way into your forties before you're starting to get
00:17:39a sense of oh well maybe you know maybe some of the problem is in me because of course you know it's so intuitive to think that course it's it's the other person so to begin with that sense off you know i'm quite tricky in these ways that's a
00:17:52very important starting point for being good at love you know so often we blame our lovers we don't blame our view of love and so we keep zaching are lovers and blowing up relationship or in pursuit off this idea of love which actually has no basis in reality
00:18:11it's simply not rooted in anything we know this is the right person this creature does not exist and it is in fact the enemy off good enough relationships you know i'm really fond of donald winner caught this english psychoanalysts term which he first used in relation to parenting
00:18:26that you know what we should be aiming for is not perfection but a good enough situation on dh it's wonderfully downbeat you know no one would go you know what your hopes this year well i just wanna have a good enough relationship people go sorry your life so
00:18:40grim you want to go no that's really good that's that's kind of for human that's brilliant on dh that's that's i think the attitude we should have yeah um you you know one of the thiss darkest truth about love you know you say the idea of love in
00:18:57fact distracts us from existentially only nous you know you are irredeemably alone you will not be understood but also behind that is the but write these air as you say that these air dark truths but it's also a relief as truth always ultimately is when we if we
00:19:14can hear it that again that is the work of life is to recognize that's right i mean if you know what goes on inside us i think one of the you know one of the greatest sorrows we sometimes have in in love is the feeling that our lover
00:19:27doesn't understand parts of us on dh a certain kind of bravery a certain heroic acceptance of loneliness seems to be one of the key ingredients to being able to form a good relationship is that interesting And it sounds paradoxical course if you're expecting your lover must understand everything
00:19:45about you you will be well you'll be furious but pretty natural the time you know there are islands and moments of beautiful connection but we have to be modest about how often they're goingto happen i think you know if you're lonely with only i don't know forty percent
00:20:01of your life that's really good going you may not want to you know be lonely with over fifty percent but you know i think you know there's certainly a sizable minority share of your life which you're going to have to endure without echo from those you love yeah
00:20:17you know i i debated over whether i would discuss this of you but i think i will like i'm single right now and have been for a few years and and it's actually been a great joy you know not that i think i will be single forever or
00:20:30one to be single forever although actually think i've i think i would be all right if i were you know which is a really watershed and also what this chapter of life has taught me to really enjoy more deeply and take more seriously all the many forms of
00:20:47love and life aside from just you know the romantic love or being coupled with funny cause you know just as you were saying yeah yes i mean just just you saying i'm single i was about to say you're not way have to look at what this idea of
00:21:02singlehood is i mean we've we've got this word single which captures somebody but i have so much in a long term relationship is right and and you know another way of looking at love his connection where all the time you know we are hardwired to seek connections with
00:21:15others on dh that is in a sense that a kind of granular level what love is love is is connection and it's so far as one is alive and one is in a buoyant relatively buoyant spirit some of the time it's because we are connected on dh weaken
00:21:30take pride in how flexible our minds ultimately are about where that connection is coming when i think it's also worth saying that you're for some people relationships not necessarily the place where they encounter their best selves yeah that that actually the person that they are in a relationship
00:21:48is not the person that they want to be a war that they can be in other areas of life that they feel that there's there are other possibilities that they'd like to explore on dh you know i think getting into a relationship with someone asking someone to be
00:22:03with you was pretty cruel thing to do to someone that you love and admire and respect because the job is the job is so hard most people fail at it you know when when you ask someone to marry you for example you're asking someone to you know be
00:22:16your chauffeur co host sexual partner co parent fellow accountant you know mop the kitchen floor together etcetera etcetera and on and on the list goes no wonder that we fail at some of the tasks and get irate with one another it's a burden and i think sometimes you
00:22:35know the older i get sometimes i think one of the nicest things you can do to someone that you really admire is leave them alone just let them go let them be good don't impose yourself on them because you're challenging i want to read your this definition of
00:22:51marriage that you you've written in a in a few places i think it's wonderful and just talk about this marriage ends up as a hopeful generous infinitely kind gamble taken by two people who don't know yet who they are or who the other might be binding themselves to
00:23:10a future they cannot conceive of and have carefully avoided investigating well yes it's it's challenging and it's certainly contrary to the romantic view but again this kind ofthe realism or you know acceptance of complexity i think is ultimately the friend of love i'm not i mean look it's
00:23:31also worth adding i don't believe that everybody should stay in exactly the relationship that they're in and that any relationship is worth sticking were than that in a way the fault is is always the fault of the lovers if it's not both lovers if if it's not happy
00:23:47There are legitimate reasons to leave a relationship but when you're really being honest if you ask yourself why am i in pain And you can't necessarily attribute all the sorrows that your feeling to your lover If you recognize that some of those things are perhaps endemic to existence
00:24:03or endemic toe all human beings or something within yourself then what you're doing is encountering the pain of life with another person but not necessarily because of another person And for example i mean you you know you are in fact arguing yeah sze yu said Before some marriages
00:24:22are meant and there's you know there's Certainly reasons for marriage is to end or to end marriages But but you also point out this very contradictory fact that the thing that's ultimately wrong with adultery as an easy out too what's going around the marriage is that it is
00:24:38based on the same idealism that certain ideas of marriage are based on that go wrong that that's right in a way that you'll just redirecting your hope elsewhere and imagine this is the perfect one right this is the one person who want with him he won't be ever
00:24:54be lonely again who will understand you completely that's right that's right and so it's you know on and on the cycles of hurt continue it is something else you name about marriage that i feel is not often enough just named is that you know we spoke a little
00:25:11while ago about children coming into a marriage and and and of course children teach us so much i mean one thing you say it's beautiful the children teaches that love in its purest form is kind of service the love we have for our children i mean i certainly
00:25:26knows if i said that love that i have for my children has changed me and it is it is it is distinct from all the other lovers i've ever known but also that the children are hard on marriage is right and for i think and on a you
00:25:40know on a more complicated level if there are problems in the marriage that guy can get amplified when children there's also partly just cause you can everybody's tired right that's right you know it's interesting i mean in a way there's a lot of mundanity in relationships and one
00:25:58of the things that romanticism does is to teach us that you know the great love stories should be above mundane so you know in none of the great same nineteenth century novels about love does anyone ever do the laundry does anyone ever you know pick up the crumbs
00:26:13from the kitchen table's anyone ever you know clean the bathroom it just doesn't happen because it's assumed that what you know what makes or breaks lover just feelings passionate emotions no that kind of day today where and tear and yet of course when we find ourselves in relationships
00:26:28it is precisely over these areas that conflict arise but we refused to lend them the necessary prestige i mean there's no arguments as vicious as when two people are arguing about something but both of them think the argument is trivial so they'll say things like i mean it's
00:26:44just you know it's absurd were arguing over you know who should hang up the towels in the bathroom that's the stupid people has nothing to do with you yeah and you know that that's going to be trouble and so we need in a way one of those sort
00:26:55of you know one of the lessons of love is to lend a bit of prestige to those issues that you crop up the crop up in love like you know who does the laundry and what day we rush over these decisions we don't see them as legitimate you
00:27:07know we think it's a fine too yeah but they are there i mean as you say that there's a lot of life is the stuff of life for any monday right it's the stuff of our days and i mean there's this wonderful line from the course of love
00:27:20about an hour this to parents the children the tired child inside each of them is furious at how long it has been neglected and in pieces that's right and you know in a way it's so funny my life i could be indiscreet honor my wife's used to say
00:27:38to me in the early days of our marriage he sometimes would say that to me things like you know my father would never have said something like that i would say something right now so i'm you know it's not my turn to make the tea or something sure
00:27:48got my father would never said it you know he would he would always do this for us on that i had to point out that there was really a you know she wasn't comparing like with like that she was comparing miss man her father as a father you're
00:28:01not as a lover and you know in the end what what to say to her i did end up saying to her was in a way i'm probably behaving exactly like your father but just not the father that you saw when he was around you Yeah the way
00:28:12he behaved towards your mother that's right that's right exactly exactly And so one of things we do as parents is to edit ourselves which is lovely in a way for our children But it gives our children a really unnatural sense of what you can expect from another human
00:28:28being because we're never is nice too Probably anyone else on earth as we are to our children i mean things this is this is the cost of good parenting After a short break more with alando baton subscribed on being on apple podcast toe Listen again and to discover
00:29:00produced and unedited versions of everything we make support for On being with krista tippett comes from the fetzer institute helping build the spiritually foundation for a loving world Fetzer envisions a world that embraces love as a guiding principle and animating force for our lives a powerful love that
00:29:19helps us live in sacred relationship with ourselves Others and the natural world Learn more by visiting fetzer dot or ge I'm krista tippet and this is on being today We're exploring the true hard work of love with the writer and philosopher alando baton You know i'd like to
00:29:45go a sightly different place with all of this have been things you've been saying pointing out about how love really works Ah That people don't learn when they're humiliated that self righteousness is a is an enemy of love um i'm thinking a lot right now these days about
00:30:10how and if we could apply the intelligence we actually have with the experience of love not the ideal but the experience of love in our lives to how we can be as citizens moving forward where um there's a lot of behavior in public everyone knows speaking for the
00:30:30united states but i you know i think there's their forms of this and in the uk as well they were kind of acting out in public the way we act out at our worst and in relationships you know thrashing i think you're onto something huge and and rather
00:30:46counter intuitive because we associate the word love with private life we don't associate it with life in the republic with with civil society yes but i think that a functioning society requires well christ to things that again don't sound very normal but they require love and politeness and
00:31:03by love i mean a capacity to enter imaginatively into the minds of people with whom you don't immediately agree aunt to look for the more charitable explanations for behavior which doesn't appeal to you and which could seem plain wrong not just to chuck them immediately in prison or
00:31:23toe you know hold them up in front of a law court but well just tell him how stupid they are right Just write or tell exactly because exactly we were permanently you know all sides are attempting to show how how stupid it every other side is on the
00:31:38other thing of course is politeness which is an attempt not necessarily to say everything to to understand that there is a role for private feelings which if they were to emerge would do damage to everyone concerned we've got this culture of kind of self disclosure and has to
00:31:56say it spills out into politics as well the same dynamic goes on it was like if i'm not telling you exactly what i think then you know i may develop a twitch or in l a this from knight you know expunging my feelings and you know to which
00:32:09i would say no you're not you're preserving you know the piece and you know good nature of the republic and and it's absolutely what you should be doing yes and i guess you know i've been having this conversation with a lot of people this year i mean the
00:32:23truth is more than ever before perhaps in our world we are in relationship but we are in we are connected to everyone else and that's affect their well being will impact our well being is of relevant store well being and that of our children but there's that we
00:32:45had this habit in this capacity in public too and it's also we know that we know of that our brains work this right to see the other to see those strangers those people those people on the other side politically socioeconomically whatever forgetting that in our intimate lives and
00:33:04in our love lives you know in our in our circles of family and friends and in our marriages and with our children there are things about the people we love the most who drive us crazy that we do not comprehend and yet we find ways to be intelligent
00:33:23right to be loving because it gets a better result that's right andi you know families are at this kind of test bed of love because well we can't entirely quit them and that's what makes families so fascinating because you're you're thrown together with a group of people who
00:33:41you would never pick if you could simply on the grounds of you know compatibility you know compatibility is an achievement of love it shouldn't be the precondition of love as we nowadays in a slightly spoiled way imagine it must be yes wonderful i think this is deeply politically
00:33:59relevant and it's and i think you know that you know if we try and explore the world political political really means you know outside of private space on dh were highly socialized creatures who really take our cues from what is going on around us and if we see
00:34:19an atmosphere off short tempers off selfishness etcetera that will bolster those capacities within ourselves if we see charity being exercised if we see good humor if we seek forgiveness on display again it will lend support to those sides of ourselves and you know we need to take care
00:34:40what we're exposing ourselves to because too much exposure to you know the opposite of love you know makes us into very hostile and angry people yes and i think it's also such an important thing to bear in mind that the import of our conduct moment to moment that
00:34:58that right that that is is having effects that we can't see that's right with far more sensitive than we allow for and we need to build a world that recognizes that if somebody goes you know rather than this or thanks rather than yes or you know whatever it
00:35:14is this khun ruin our day and we should think about that as we approach not just our personal relationships but also our social and political relationships these things our humiliated little things can deeply wound and humiliate you know let's not forget that one of things that makes relationships
00:35:32so scary is we need to be weak in front of other people and most of us just experts at being pretty strong you know we've been doing it for years we know how to be strong what we don't know how to do is to make ourselves safely vulnerable
00:35:45and so we get we tend to get very twitchy you know preternaturally aggressive et cetera when we're asked to we know when the moment has come to be weak and i feel like there's there's always is calling now because the stakes are so high for emotional intelligence in
00:36:01public which of course we don't none of us gets perfectly in our in our intimate lives but we we do know these things about people we love and they're also true of people we don't know and don't think we love but i want to return a little bit
00:36:19tio love and sex and arrows and all of this i have to say one thing i really love and appreciate and learned from any writing is your um your reflection on flirting thie is an art the art of flirting that it could be something edifying a pleasurable gift
00:36:41and you have this phrase a good flirt so would you describe what a good flirt is well you know if you think about what flirtation is in many ways flirtation is the attempt to awaken somebody else to their attractiveness i mean i think you know it would be
00:36:57such a pity if we had to drive something as important as kind of validation on dh self acceptance and you know a pleasant view of oneself through the gate of rather narrow gate of sex and flirtation is a kind of act of the imagination and you know what's
00:37:12fun about flotation is that it often happens between really quite unlikely people yeah you know two people meet and you know maybe they're both with someone or their you know difference in status or background etcetera and they confined that they're in a a little conversation about the weather
00:37:28and both bodies were recognize there's something a little bit flirtatious going on and it's got really nothing to do with with sex as such it's it's just two people delighting is awakening one over to the fact that they're quite nice people onda quite attractive on dh that that's
00:37:45that's okay yeah yeah yeah this one's lovely film was one of these good life films of about this you know good flirt you can make these assumptions that this other person you know maybe would love to sleep with us won't sleep with us and the reason why they
00:37:59won't has nothing to do with any deficiency on our part but it's also not as you say a deception it's as natural pleasurable human experience that's right I mean the other thing that we get quite wrong in our culture is the whole business off what sex actually is
00:38:17you know because we have come from a freudian world you know freud has told us that there's a lot more going on insects than we want to believe and that a lot of it is quite weird and darker than we'd ever want to imagine on dh that sex
00:38:34is everywhere in life even in places where we don't think it is or perhaps should be but in a way i've got a sort of different view of this i think that it's not so much that sex is everywhere it's that psychological dynamics are everywhere even in sex
00:38:52and so often we think of sex is just a sort of a new matic activity but really it's a psychological activity and if you try to imagine why people are excited by sex it's not so much that it's a pleasurable nerve ending business it's it's ultimately that it's
00:39:07about acceptance if you think about why you why is it exciting to kiss someone for the first time it's not you know it's probably more fun eating an oyster or flossing your teeth or watching tv then kissing is a bit weird odd things people kissing it's like sort
00:39:20of going to inflate somebody else's mouth i mean it's just wait nevertheless we like it not because of its physical feeling but because of what it means the meaning we were infused and the meaning we infuse into it is i accept you on i accept you in a
00:39:35way that is incredibly intimate and that would be quite revolting with anyone else allowing you into my private space as a way of signaling i like you and what really we call it getting turned on but what we really a zit were excited by is that someone except
00:39:51us with remarkable you know you know still light in us right It takes the light enough and that's what's exciting about it in other words sex is continuous with a lot of things that we're interested in outside of the bedroom and you you say that flirting you know
00:40:08is one way to to experience in the course of ordinary life in a way that's completely non threatening to whatever your commitments are what is what is enjoyable about sex it's not necessarily the act itself the fact that we are sexual beings that's right that's right and you
00:40:25know but we feel often conflicted about it i shouldn't be i shouldn't be funny i can't flirt etcetera so there's a lot of lot of fear of there's a lot of fear of slippery slopes yes you know in many situations we can we can hang on on the
00:40:37slippery slope it's okay we've you know we've got tools to hang on in there yeah i want to know i don't wanna let you go before asking what you think about switch your view of online dating because this is a new way that so many people perhaps most
00:40:54people moving forward our meeting are engaging this romantic side of themselves look i mean at one level online dating promises to open up something absolutely wonderful which is a more logical way off getting together with someone the sort of dream is that the secrets of our soul and
00:41:19the secrets of somebody else's soul will be so downloaded onto a computer and that we will find the best possible match for who we are the dark aside online dating is that it encourages the idea that that's a good relationship must mean a conflict free relationship and therefore
00:41:36any relationship which has conflict in it which has unhappiness and areas of tension in it is wrong and can be terminated because we have this wonderful back up which is alternatives so like any tool it's it's got its pluses and minuses and has to be used correctly and
00:41:53i think what i mean by correctly is it has to broaden the pool of people from which we're choosing our lovers while not giving us the illusion that there is such a thing as a perfect human being right so then your back to the bay face of truth
00:42:09the darker truth about love also what online dating does it is introduces you to people but then really the whole thrust of your thinking is it's that the loving is really what comes next right what's what comes after the meeting that's right silicon valley has been incredibly interested
00:42:27in getting us to that first stage of meeting the person and you know that's great but the next stage is being abandoned you know where is the app that will tell you how to read you know how to interpret somebody else's confused signals of distress or that will
00:42:42remind you at a certain point to you know look charitably upon someone's behavior because you remember their childhood etcetera so we have a long way to go Our technology is still look was Still It sounds all because we it's one of those of narcissism is of our time
00:42:57that we think were living later on in the history of the world And we think we're sort of you know what We're late comers to the party that you were still at the very beginning of understanding ourselves as you know human emotional creatures which was still you know
00:43:12taking our first baby steps in the understanding ofthe love And we need a lot of compassion for ourselves And no wonder we make horrific mistakes You're pretty much a ll the time I'm krista tippet And this is on being today A conversation about love with writer and philosopher
00:43:48on land a baton I happened to see your tweet at the end of two thousand sixteen when that when the new york times released its most read articles of the year and you're why you will marry the wrong person was number one which is really extraordinary i mean
00:44:16the most read article in a year of the brexit vote the president election war refugee crisis i wonder what that tells you about us as a species look it was deeply fascinating and quite extraordinary apparently was first by a long way it's just peculiar on dh and i
00:44:39think that look first of all it tells us that we have an enormous loneliness around our difficulties you know one could write a follow one piece i may or may not you know called why you will get into the wrong job which would probably school quite highly too
00:44:56and you know why you'll have the wrong child and why you'll go on the wrong vacation and why your body will be the wrong shape and why you'll think you live in the wrong country et cetera that and you know in a way we need solace for sense
00:45:09that we have gone wrong in an area whatever it may be where perfection was possible and anyone who comes along and says you know it's normal that you are suffering life is suffering is doing quite unusual thing in our culture which is so much about optimism you know
00:45:28it sounds grim it is in fact enormously consoling on dh alleviating and helpful in a culture which is oppressive in its demands for for perfection so you know i think a certain kind of pessimistic realism which is totally compatible with hope totally compatible with laughter good humor a
00:45:50sense of fun it's not it doesn't have to be done already in tragedy belong teo yeah exactly exactly so you know i'm a great fan of gallows humor i mean we're all we're on the way to the gallows in one way or another and you know we khun
00:46:04hug and give each other laughs and point out the more pleasant side as we as we head towards the scaffold that may be your last word it doesn't just want to ask you we spoke we first began to speak about on love which you wrote i think which
00:46:19was published when you're twenty three in the late nineties had now been married for over a dozen years and you know what What did you really not No i mean and that that book was so wise and in fact that book that you published your twenty three on
00:46:31love really presented a lot of the same so you've carried forward in time but i do wonder like what What you really did not know what you've learned what you continue to learn about love a tte this stage in your life a genuinely thought at that time that
00:46:47problem's in love are the result of being with people who are in one way or another defective and you know in two thousand to this belief was severely tested in that i met someone who was really absolutely wonderful in every way and through much effort i pursued her
00:47:08and eventually married her and discovered something very surprising she was great in a million ways she was very right and yet oddly there were all sorts of problems and i think it's bean you know the path that i've been on to realize that those problems had nothing to
00:47:25do with her being a deficient person or indeed with me being horribly deficient person they were to do with the challenges of being a human being trying to relate to another human being in a loving relationship that i was encountering some endemic issues that every couple however well
00:47:44matched and there is no such thing as a perfect match but however well matched every couple will encounter these problems that love is something we have to learn on dh we can make progress with on dh that it's not just in enthusiasm it's a skill and it requires
00:48:02for barents generosity imagination and a million things besides and we must fiercely resisted the idea that true love must mean a conflict free love that the course of true love is smooth it's not the course of true love is rocky and bumpy at the best of times that's
00:48:21the best we can manage as the creatures we are it's No fault of mine or no fault of yours it's to do with being human And the more generous we can be towards that flawed humanity the better chance we'll have off doing the true hard work of love
00:48:52Alando baton is the founder and chairman of the school of life His books include religion for atheists how proust can change your life and the novel the course of love Yeah The pause is on beings saturday morning email offering gathering threads from the far flung ongoing conversation that
00:49:24is thie on being project it's Simple to subscribe goto On being dot org's slash the pause You'll get a weekly update on our latest conversations writings and poetry from our blogged invitations toe live events and other news and musings Again that's on being dot org's slash the pause
00:49:46no Hey On being is chris eagle lily percy mariah helguson maya terrel marie sample a aaron farrell laurent door doll tonio you bethany iverson aaron kawasaki So kristen lin profited dough hospital Kyle angie thurston sue phillips eddie gonzalez million vote damon lee and jeffrey Our lovely theme music
00:50:21is provided and composed by zoe keating and the last voice you hear singing our final credits and each show is hip hop artist liz oh on being was created at american public media Our funding partners include the fetzer institute helping to build the spiritually foundation for a loving
00:50:38world Find them at fetzer dot or ge callie a paya foundation working to create a future where universal spirituals values form the foundation of how we care for our common home humanity united advancing human dignity at home and around the world find out more at humanity United dot
00:50:58or ge part of the old video group henry luce foundation in support of public theology reimagined the osprey foundation a catalyst for empowered healthy and fulfilled lives and the lilly endowment an indianapolis based private family foundation dedicated to its founders Interests in religion community development and education are
00:51:21being distributed it by pr ex public radio exchange and isa krista tippett Public production

Transcribed by algorithms. Report Errata
Disclaimer: The podcast and artwork embedded on this page are from On Being Studios, which is the property of its owner and not affiliated with or endorsed by Listen Notes, Inc.

EDIT

Thank you for helping to keep the podcast database up to date.