Collections, Notes For Myself ;

Many psychoanalysts think that lovesickness is a form of regression, that in longing for intense closeness, we are like infants craving our mother’s embrace. This is why we are most at risk when we are struggling with loss or despair, or when we are lonely and isolated – it is not uncommon to fall in love during the first term of university, for example. But are these feelings really love?

‘I sometimes say – but not entirely seriously – that infatuation is the exciting bit at the beginning; real love is the boring bit that comes later,’ the poet Wendy Cope once told me. ‘People who are lovesick put off testing their fantasies against reality.’ But given the anguish that lovesickness can cause – the loss of mental freedom, the dissatisfaction with one’s self, and the awful ache – why do some of us put off facing reality for so long?

Often it’s because facing reality means accepting loneliness. And while loneliness can be useful – motivating us to meet someone new, for example – a fear of loneliness can work like a trap, ensnaring us in heartsick feelings for a very long time. At it worst, lovesickness becomes a habit of mind, a way of thinking about the world that is not altogether dissimilar to paranoia.

 

– The Examined Life /  Stephen Grosz