When I was head over heels in love with my boyfriend, it felt like we were intensely close. Almost like an unity – the ‘two persons one mind’ kind of thing. After a year or two I turned back to reality and realised that this idea of an unity is more likely a construct. An idea that was an expectation in my mind, fed by all the cheesy romantic comedies I’ve seen through the years.
I realised that he isn’t the same person as I am. We are both individuals, with our own desires, needs and dreams. Individuals that experience the world completely different.
At first I found it quite difficult to cope with this confrontation of reality. I guess hollywood and the beautiful myth from Plato’s Symposium about separated human beings who search their whole lives to find their other matching half in order to be complete again, have made a great impact on me.
Alain Badiou’s little book about love – In Praise of Love which he wrote in only two weeks, how incredible! – helped me to gain a better understanding of the process of falling in love and being your own person in a relationship.
According to Badiou, being in love means that an individual experiences the world not only from his own perspective but from the perspective of someone else as well. Or to put in in Badiou’s own words:
“Love is a quest for truth. I mean truth in relation to something quite precise: what kind of world does One see when One experiences it from the point of view of Two and not One? What is the world like when it is experienced, developed and lived from the point of view of Difference and not Identity? That is what I believe Love to be.”
Thus, in a relationship people experience the world from the point of view of two which is a point of view of difference. A love relationship between two people exists of two different individuals, two different identities, and two different perspectives. In the difference lies the deeper connection, lies the meaning of the relationship of the lovers. This makes it possible to understand the world in terms of difference and not only in terms of your own perspective.
Precisely because love is the difference between the two persons in love, a risk is always involved. Badiou states: “love involves a separation or disjuncture based on the simple difference between the two people and their infinite subjectivities.” People are different, have their own subjective ideas and interpretations of the world.
When two completely different people encounter each other there is always a chance that they don’t get along, that their views of the world differ to much. When you first meet someone, you don’t know if having a relation with this person is a good decision, or whether you’ll end up happy together. There is no such thing as a mr. or mrs. right. No other half of your soul you need to search. No best decision for a partner written in the stars. There are only different people with different world views and this difference between two lovers is a element of risk in the process of love.
For Badiou, love without risk is, thus, an impossibility.
I think I prefer the idea of love as a risk to love as an unity. It is more applicable to the way I experience love myself. And doesn’t it make the experience of love a lot more interesting?