Love is a commitment to live life from two perspectives

I recently read a definition of love that really captivated me and validated my own experience in a long-term marriage. I came across this definition in a book review in the Economist magazine (Truly, madly, deeply).

The book, In Praise of Love is based on a conversation between French philosopher Alain Badiou and French journalist Nicolas Truong. In it, Badiou gives an overview of philosophical definitions of love and his own reflections.

According to the reviewer, Badiou rejects many of the prevailing philosophical notions of love as 1) an ecstatic encounter 2) an unsentimental contract or 3) an illusion. Instead he defines love as “the decision to live life through two perspectives, that of both the lover and the beloved”. For Badiou the choice to love is a choice for “a life that is being made, no longer from the perspective of One but from the perspective of Two”.

This idea has really stuck with me! Defining love as “the decision to live life through two perspectives” reveals an aspect of committed love that is often overlooked in popular culture. The decision to live life through two perspectives may be a much greater predictor of long-term relationship success than the emphasis popular culture puts on romance.

I began to speculate on what I have discovered are the implications are of living life from two perspectives.

Practically, I believe it means:

1) Giving up the certainty that your own perspective is the “right” one. Having the humility to acknowledge that it is simply one perspective, not “the Truth”.

2) Being interested in and seeking to understand your partner’s perspective. This is done with the humility and knowledge that no matter how well you think you know them, there is always more to go.

3) Treating your partner’s concerns as seriously as you treat your own. This includes giving up the right to “stonewall” your partner ie: giving up any refusal to deal with something that concerns them.

4) Finding win-win solutions that work for both of you. When there’s an apparent conflict between what each of you wants, you stick with the dialogue until a solution emerges that BOTH feel good about.

5) Making your partner’s happiness/growth/well-being as important as your own. Not MORE important or LESS important – AS important.

These commitments are a tall order. In my experience and through my observation of others, living life from two perspectives will call us/invite us/push us to grow – with all the joys and discomfort that comes with growth.

Sometimes we’d rather not respond to the call. However, what else is life and love about, if not growth? We can resist it or work with it or dance with it. Most of us do some of all three.

Let me know your thoughts. What does “living life from two perspectives” mean to you?

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