What will you choose love or commitment

"We're all married to the wrong person"


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A loving person does not deny his essence. But he's changing his life. This is one of the reasons why many today have a split relationship with love. Change one's life for someone else? At a time when individualization is one of the megatrends, that is asking a lot.

And why do we love a certain person: of all people and not someone else? There can be many reasons for this: better, worse, but not compelling. Maybe we fell in love with him spontaneously, or he advertised persistently. Perhaps there are ancient genetic programs at work or the Parship algorithm. The exact reasons are not so important. It's not like you love someone because they're at the top of a ranking. But the other way around: He is at the top because he is loved.

It's not about finding Mr. or Ms. Perfect, the only real person on earth destined to make us happy. "We're all married to the wrong person," says philosopher Alain de Botton, who is currently writing a novel entitled The course of love published. Love makes the "wrong" the right person. Her miracle lies in the fact that she conjures perfection out of normal human inadequacy.

From chance to love, from any one to the only one - but it does not happen entirely by itself. If you want to love, you have to make up your mind: "I will make something different out of what was a coincidence," says Alain Badiou, "I will turn it into a duration, a tenacity, an obligation, a loyalty." Love needs a certain stubbornness. But the effort is worth it, says Badiou. "There have been dramas, tears and uncertainties, but I've never left love. And I'm pretty sure that I have loved forever those I have loved and still love them."

So a decision. It is not enough to simply surrender to love, you have to get involved with it and consciously care for it. Indecisive love is at best falling in love, mere desire. But does it even work to decide to love? Isn't it something that comes over you like a higher power?

It works amazingly well. Twenty years ago, the American psychologist Arthur Aron tried to "experimentally create interpersonal closeness", as the title of his study is. He placed two foreign psychology students facing each other, 33 male-female couples, and had them ask each other 36 questions, beginning with "If you could choose from among all the people in the world, who would you invite to dinner?", Later, "Have." you secretly guess how you're going to die? " and "If you were to become a close friend with the other person, what would he have to know about you?". Finally, the test subjects had to look deep into each other's eyes for another four minutes.

In fact, strangers fell in love in Aron's laboratory. A couple married six months later and invited the researchers to the wedding. So love doesn't fall from the sky. It can be generated in a targeted manner with simple means - or at least promoted.

Once love is there, the reasons why it was created are no longer so important. More importantly, love itself is a reason to do things. For example, imagine a woman - let's call her Anna - who urgently needs a favor from her partner Britta at the weekend. However, Anna hesitates to ask Britta about it because it would thwart Britta's plans for the weekend. Anna is embarrassed to take advantage of her partner's good nature. In fact, Britta is happy to do her this favor. She even wants to make it easier for Anna to ask about it. Why does Britta like to do her this favor? Not because she promises something for herself from it. Not even because she is basically a helpful person. But because it is important for Anna - and therefore also important for Britta. But simply because Britta loves Anna. There is no need for more reasons.

"Love creates reasons" is the core sentence of a book by the American philosopher Harry Frankfurt, das The Reasons of Love is titled, not The Reasons for Love. There are no compelling reasons for love, everyone has their own. That is why the objects of our love are so different. I love my partner and my children, you love yours.

The German philosopher Karl Jaspers called love "the most incomprehensible, because it is most unfounded, most natural reality of absolute consciousness". The reasons it arises may be coincidences. The reasons it creates aren't. Love creates commitment.

Love, understood in this way, is a lot of work. A loving person feels the attraction that the loved one has for him and tends it like a garden. The Roman poet Ovid called an art love, which then meant: a craft. You can learn it, you have to practice it, otherwise you will forget it. To love well is a skill that requires talent, will and willingness to learn. Two lovers must continually reconcile their desires, needs and interests. The practice of love is running a marathon together on a tightrope. When Prince Philip, the Prince Consort of the British Queen, was asked about the secret of such a long marriage on his 60th wedding anniversary, he replied laconically: "Constant compromises."

Tobias Hürter

Philosopher and deputy editor-in-chief of the magazine High air, thinks it is a shame that people who write and research about love are not necessarily better spouses, parents, or lovers.

Why should you take it upon yourself? Why doesn't everyone just go about their business, occasionally meeting for a glass of wine or an afternoon in bed? After all, independence is so much more important than life in dependency, just as love brings with it. Perhaps Plato was on the right track with his answer: Love is in human nature. So why love? Because we can. Because we are human. The director Woody Allen gives the viewers of his film Crimes and other trifles from 1989 as the closing words: "Events are coming our way so unpredictably, so unfairly. Human happiness does not seem to be included in the plan of creation. Only we alone can give meaning to the indifferent universe with our ability to love." If that's not reason enough, what then?

The sources for the ZEIT-Wissen article can be found here.