Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Ideal imperfection

I've been reading Alain de Botton's book, Essays in Love, in which he shares this little gem:
"Every fall into love involves the triumph of hope over self-knowledge. We fall in love hoping we won't find in another what we know is in ourselves, all the cowardice, weakness, laziness, dishonesty, compromise, and stupidity. We throw a cordon of love around the chosen one and decide that everything within it will somehow be free of our faults."
I read this five times over, and although I heartily disagree with it, I wondered how much truth there was in it. I mean, there is always that initial time when you meet someone and you think they are perfect- light radiates off them, they say the funniest things, the way they slurp their soup is utterly charming, you idealize them. But my favorite time in a relationship always comes a bit after, when you see the person's "faults" and you still think that he is the greatest person on the planet. It's like you can suddenly take a deep breath and say, "Phew, you're not perfect, that's a relief!".
My point is that I don't think that I want to find someone without my faults and I'm wondering why Alain would. Why is that an ideal for him? Self loathing? Is it because being near someone without his faults will make him a better person? Is it a difference between the way that men and women love? Do men search for perfection because they know they are flawed and want to be better and women search for imperfection because they know that they are flawed and don't want to be judged?
I'll get back to you on this.

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