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  • We tend to be generous towards people who can't get over someone.

  • It sounds romantic, if a little sad.

  • The love affair happened a year ago, but still the excess thought remain loyal to every detail of the story.

  • Maybe they've moved to another country,

  • perhaps they married someone else,

  • maybe they're dead.

  • None of it matters.

  • The most famous fictional love affair of the 18th century,

  • Goethe's Sorrows of Young Werther, is a hugely sympathetic study of this kind of romantic fixation.

  • The hero Werther, an ardent young student falls passionately in love with a charming and beautiful woman named Charlotte.

  • She likes him but doesn't love him back.

  • In part, because she's married to someone else.

  • There are plenty of other nice women who are single, attractive and interested in Werther,

  • but he has no time for them.

  • The only one he cares for is Charlotte,

  • the one who doesn't care for him.

  • Eventually, unable to have Charlotte's love, Werther decides to kill himself.

  • The novel proved hugely charming to its original audiences, who praise it for its deep and pure understanding of love.

  • This sort of unrequited passion so often celebrated in literature and society more generally.

  • May sounds generous and in that sense, loving.

  • But, a devotion to an unrequited situation is in truth

  • a clever way of ensuring that we won't end up in a relationship at all.

  • That we won't ever need to suffer the realities of love.

  • Fixation on an absent other allows us to be publicly committed to love while privately sheltered from any of its more arduous demands.

  • The fear of love may be motivated by a range of factors:

  • A squeamishness surround hope,a self-hatred which makes someone else's love feel eerie, or a fear of self-revelation which breeds a reluctance to let anyone into the secret part of ourselves.

  • The fears are serious and deserve sympathy,

  • but they're generally not the issues that a romantically fixated person ever wants to discuss.

  • They prefer to keep the spotlight on the unresponsive ex rather than on their motives for continuing to dwell on them.

  • The way to unfixate is not to tell ourselves that we never like the person.

  • It's to get very serious and specific about what the attraction was based on.

  • And then come to see that the qualities we had admire in the ex, must necessarily exist in other people

  • who don't have the set of problems that make the original relationship impossible.

  • The careful investigation of the character of one person, paradoxically, but very liberatingly shows that we could in fact, also love someone else.

  • This is not an exercise in getting us to give up on what we really want.

  • The liberating move is to see that what we want has to exist in places beyond the pain and juicing character we originally identified it in.

  • We should gently recognize that being disappointed and abandoned has its curious satisfactions.

  • It is, in an emotional sense, a very safe position to be in indeed.

  • Yet true love isn't to be acquited with pinning for an absent figure.

  • It means daring to engage with a truely frightening prospect.

  • A person who is available and thinks:

  • despite our strong background supposition to the contrary, that we're really rather nice.

  • that is perhaps the only sort of challenge that probably deserves the lyrical and grand word, romantic.

We tend to be generous towards people who can't get over someone.

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B1 UK werther love charlotte romantic love affair absent

How to Get Over Someone

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    Sabrina Hsu posted on 2016/12/28
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