My reason for Being is you
& it’s Nothingness without you.
In love, one and one are one.
— Jean-Paul Sartre
No one is more arrogant toward women than the man who is anxious about his virility.
— Simone de Beauvoir
The phrase, “love kills” sounds like an emotional over exaggeration. It is. It is until the day your true love leaves you that is. Only then will the phrase be seen as a valid statement of fact. (It is bitterly ironic that you’ll almost certainly not know that they were and ‘are’ your true love until they’ve gone and left you.)
I’ll argue here that ‘true’ love—love of the passionate & romantic kind—can only be experienced once in a lifetime. I’ll also argue that it is almost always our own actions that result in true love being lost.
It is invariably the case that in passionate romantic relationships, we turn the person that we love into an object. This ‘object’ is not only a projection of what we think that person wants to be but also, a reaction to our own insecurities and repressed desires. We try not to, but we end up trying to control our lover. We try not to, but we end up trying to shape our lover. We adopt a different persona to be what we think they want us to be and, we try also to be who we ourselves really want to (but can never actually) be.
Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre argue that these are the reasons for why truly passionate relationships almost always fail. Indeed, one of their central philosophical arguments is that we, as post-faith humans, need to come to terms with the fact that we ourselves are responsible for the consequences of our actions (e.g., the hurtful and horrible words we type and send).
Inescapably, our actions in acts of passion and love are our own. We cannot blame destiny, fate or some form of invisible hand that mysteriously controls us from above. The guilt trips, ego trips and insane irrational jealousies are of our own making. Our self-centred, short-term actions can, and often do, have long-run catastrophic consequences.
Does, as some have argued, knowledge of this agency and responsibility help us deal with our true love leaving us? I’ll say no. Indeed, knowing just how big a role our own actions played, makes the situation even more heart wrenching; the what ifs are rendered less abstract. Had we acted differently (e.g., shown more appreciation and understanding), we’d likely not have lost them in the first place.
I believe that true love can only be experienced once because all previous experiences of love pale to nothing in the aftermath of losing your true love. I believe that true love can only be experienced once because no alternative or future love can be contemplated in the everlasting aftermath of your true love leaving you.
The way true love kills us is unique for unlike other modes of death it keeps us alive to experience the depths of despair and desperation on a daily basis. We are condemned to this undying death minute by minute, endlessly and perpetually. This mode of death is all the worse for knowing that, had we acted differently, we would most probably still be hand in hand and side by side with our retrospectively realised One&Only.
p.s. To grasp and pay heed to the logic of de Beauvoir and Sartre would be of real benefit to those who have yet to find true love.