“People often ask themselves if they should stay with their significant other or leave” said the philosopher Alain de Botton in a recent interview. “There is one rule: if we can say, after a thorough thought, that our pain comes from our partner, we should leave the relationship. But if we think we could feel the same insatisfaction with someone else, we may choose to stay in the relationship. There is a difference between to go through a difficult experience of life with someone and make that difficult experience because of this person” he said.
Alain de Botton also said the cult of romantic love in our western civilization has a disastrous effect on our emotional life because it prevents us to blossom by presenting us unrealistic images of ourselves.
That cult makes us hope for unrealistic goals as: to meet someone beautiful from the inside and the outside, who will seduce us immediately and exclusively, to have satisfying sexual relationships throughout our life, to be never attracted by someone else, to understand each other intuitively, to build a family without losing emotional and sexual intensity for each other, said the philosopher. Because those goals are unreachable, the feeling of failure is really high, he added.
So, do we expect too much from our significant other? Or from the person we just met?
It’s true that if we expect to be seduced immediately by someone beautiful from the inside and the outside, we can get ahead of a lot of disappointments. Because in this category, you can find narcissistic perverts, players or just people who are not really interested in relationships.
But we need to be attracted to our future significant to start something. This attraction can take time. Like those who are friends for years before starting a relationship with each other. Or between coworkers who gradually fall in love for each other after spending a lot of time with each other. Or between neighbors. It’s far from the immediate attraction we can feel with someone we meet on dating sites and app like Tinder.
Love is accepting the other’s differences, says Alain de Botton. We don’t necessarily have to share a lot of common points with our significant other, as long as we accept him/her as he/she is.
The philosopher also mentioned that a couple is like a small enterprise, because of the multiple chores we have to share, and the budget we have to keep together. Those are a source of conflicts for every couple.
So, yes, it’s a difficult decision to make when we want to leave a relationship, especially a long term relationship. And it’s a difficult decision when we hesitate to stay in the relationship too.