Alain de Botton: "The bond of love should be learned at school"

Enter into relationship with the other, understand it, behave well with your partner ... So many attitudes that are far from being innate. For the philosopher Alain de Botton, love is a skill that must be learned from an early age.

Interviewed by Christilla Pellé-Douël

Psychologies: In your book you go through the story of a couple, from the encounter to maturity, to the wisdom of love.

Alain de Botton: We always think that love is madness, a passion and that too reasoning can kill him. But loving is not just about emotion. It is a skill that can be learned. This book is both a novel (which tells the life of a young couple) and a try to try to get this message across. And it is not obvious. Because if we say "I'm going to study love", we can be considered crazy. And yet, we should do it. You have to learn to love! Nowadays, we have the impression that it is spontaneous, that love falls on us, like a divine force. It's very pretty, but it's not true. In the long term, it is a disaster: it is not enough to be in love, it is necessary to be able to take into account the needs of one's spouse. Know how to express your expectations and hear those of the other. And we do not know how to do it. It's like a lesson in politeness: we can not indulge in saying everything that goes through our head or doing everything we want to do under the pretext that we are in a relationship. You have to know how to behave in front of the other.

You also say that a relationship, to be happy, is conditioned by self-knowledge.

Alain de Botton: That's right. But it is also in the love relationship that one discovers oneself. The other is like a mirror, he can teach us many things, without turning to criticism or attack. But we are often afraid, in a couple, to open to the lessons of our partner.

There is a contradiction in love: the desire for intimacy and the fear of it. How to explain it?

Alain de Botton: One of the great misunderstandings in love is to believe that the other is going and must understand us without being spoken. It comes from childhood: we waited for our parents to understand our problems, our desires, without having to explain ourselves. And sometimes, they understand. But in love, it does not work like that.


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