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Intermission: Some thoughts on love

In the midst of all the writing I've been doing about GMO food lately, I thought I'd take a brief digression into an entirely different subject: love.

Recently, someone online pointed to the writings about love by Francesco Alberoni, an Italian sociologist who has this to say on the matter:

No one can fall in love if he is even partially satisfied with what he has or who he is.The experience of falling in love originates in an extreme depression, an inability to find something that has value in everyday life. The "symptom" of the predisposition to fall in love is not the conscious desire to do so,the intense desire to enrich our lives; it is the profound sense of being worthless and of having nothing that is valuable and the shame of not having it. [...] For this reason, falling in love occurs more frequently among young people, since they are profoundly uncertain, unsure of their worth,and often ashamed of themselves. The same thing applies to people of other ages when they lose something in their lives-—when their youth ends or when they start to grow old.

Now, I am not a sociologist, but when I read this, I rolled my eyes so hard I feared they would fall from my head onto my keyboard.

I am a deeply, profoundly happy person. My normal baseline emotional state is almost overwhelming joy almost all the time. I am constantly awestruck by the wonder and beauty of the natural world, as I've blogged about here.

In other words, I am about as far from "the profound sense of being worthless and of having nothing that is valuable and the shame of not having it" as it's possible to be.

I fall in love deeply, unhesitantly, and with abandon, without fear or reservation. Love is an amazing thing. It is the profound sharing of myself with those I love, and through it, the sharing of joy. Life is filled with wonder and beauty, all of which is amplified by love. I create with the people I love. I explore with the people I love. Love is a fantastic thing, a process for multiplying joy and dividing sorrow.

It's easy to be cynical about love, because love is not for the cowardly. It lets us share ourselves with those around us, and that makes us vulnerable. Like anything worth doing, love carries risks. It's easy to get tangled up in our own egos and fears--what if we get hurt? What if the person we love doesn't love us back?--and so to believe, mistakenly, that those we love owe us something simply because we love them. Nothing could be further from the truth. Love cannot be coerced. It exists only when it is given freely. It's not for wimps. To risk loving is to risk exposing yourself in the most profound way possible. Love requires courage.

But that is precisely what makes it so valuable.

I do not entirely understand the depth of cynicism that would lead Mr. Alberoni to the conclusions he has reached. But I am very, very happy he's wrong.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 17th, 2014 11:13 pm (UTC)
Is he wrong? Or is he simply writing from the perspective and lived-experience of an attachment style that is quite possibly very different from your own?
Nov. 17th, 2014 11:22 pm (UTC)
He's wrong when he makes blanket statements about the kind of person who falls in love, certainly. :)
Nov. 17th, 2014 11:26 pm (UTC)
That's fair :)
Nov. 17th, 2014 11:44 pm (UTC)
Reading that snippet I get the sense that they're using "love" as a synonym for "co-dependent". Which... isn't a meaning I would choose.

Nov. 17th, 2014 11:45 pm (UTC)
Not that I am also advocating making blanket statements about the kinds of people who love or don't love, but it seems to me that the opposite is more likely to be true - that people who have "an inability to find something that has value in everyday life" and a "profound sense of being worthless and of having nothing that is valuable and the shame of not having it" are going to have more difficulty falling in love than in being likely to fall in love.

Obviously, people who suffer from depression, et all, do fall in love, so I'm not saying the reverse is true. I'm just saying that, if we're looking at trends, this joker is about as far away from being right as it's possible to be without turning around and coming back towards being right.
Nov. 18th, 2014 12:01 am (UTC)
Strikes me as the words of someone who's mainly experienced infatuation.
Nov. 18th, 2014 08:40 am (UTC)
It seems like it would be sort of true, but not for the reasons Alberoni thinks.

I mean, young people (as in teens to early 20s) are more likely to be depressive, because they're likely to still be grappling with major issues about who they *really* are and trying to sort truth from lies and fantasies which are told to children. But they're also likely to be at peak sex drive, so... yeah.

Older people who don't have partners are more likely to be depressive if they don't have any spouse/lover/consort/whatever in their life, due to feeling a bit empty if they haven't had anyone for awhile and sometimes not having anyone reliable to lean on when times are tough. This tends to make them desperate. Desperation isn't good for finding relationships, or for finding good ones out of the ones you could potentially find, but it is a strong motivating factor for many to seek out "love".

As some have stated, that's more like infatuation (at earlier ages) and co-dependency (at later ages). If you live in a culture where the happier people tend to be less visible or obvious about their developing relationships, then Alberoni's view is probably a very reasonable conclusion to make based on observations alone - but it's also probably wrong.
Nov. 19th, 2014 12:26 am (UTC)

curious-googled, found http://www.alberoni.it/pdf/falling-in-love-and-loving.pdf

i've only skimmed it so far, but my initial impression was that he was discussing the 'love' that has been sold to people as an ideal in 'romance' movies and books -- society's mainstream idea of 'love'.

later he starts discussing triads, consensual open marriage situations, etc...

i didn't have time to read far enough to determine his overall perspective, but i will say that for a long time i avoided using the word 'love' because i felt that it was tainted by meanings and expectations that were not my own. a friend once said semi-seriously that whenever a woman said "i love you" he heard "... and here is my list of demands" -- but my concern was more about having my own meaning and intentions clearly understood.

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )