Falling in love is meant to be unexpected and transformative. “I just fell in love” is, especially the way men wield it, an unparalleled excuse for all sorts of shitty behavior. But love as random event is not really compatible with love as duration. The couple domesticates the happenstance of love into the everyday; love in the form of the couple turns its face against accident, and lives by this refusal. As Germaine Greer famously notes in The Female Eunuch, “Security is when everything is settled, when nothing can happen to you; security is the denial of life.” But for many people, especially women, especially impoverished women, denying life is the only way to have one. Overall, the couple seems to endure mainly negatively: break-ups are painful, being alone means you’ve failed, good sex is hard to come by, the world is a scary place, etc. Those couples whose love survives on the gentle basis of shared affection and interests might be inspiring examples of emotional health, but on the other hand their advantages over people with, say, a close circle of friends, are mainly legislative.

The Love of Others by Hannah Black in The New Inquiry


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