In love, we fall. We’re struck, we’re crushed, we swoon. We burn with passion. Love makes us crazy and makes us sick. Our hearts ache, and then they break. Talking about love in this way fundamentally shapes how we experience it, says writer Mandy Len Catron. In this talk for anyone who’s ever felt crazy in love, Catron highlights a different metaphor for love that may help us find more joy — and less suffering — in it.
Who is she:
Originally from Appalachian Virginia, Mandy Len Catron is a writer living and working in Vancouver, British Columbia. Her book How to Fall in Love with Anyone, is available for preorder on Amazon. Catron’s writing has appeared in the New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Walrus, as well as literary journals and anthologies. She writes about love and love stories at The Love Story Project and teaches English and creative writing at the University of British Columbia. Her article “To Fall in Love with Anyone, Do This” was one of the most popular articles published by the New York Times in 2015.
Why you should listen:
You can’t choose who you love all the time. But I tend to think that our preferences are a lot more flexible than we think they are. And we can choose whom to invest our time and energy in–and whom to move on from! I’ve loved a few people who were never going to think about love collaboratively. And I’m glad I moved on from those relationships, even when moving on was difficult and getting over them took a long time.
- Catron says she wants to talk about what’s wrong with how we talk about love. What does she say is wrong?
- “Falling is accidental, it’s uncontrollable. It’s something that happens to us without our consent. And this — this is the main way we talk about starting a new relationship.” Do we not give our consent to love?
- Are these good representations for love? “We’re struck. We are crushed. We swoon. We burn with passion. Love makes us crazy, and it makes us sick. Our hearts ache, and then they break.”
- Do we really want to be as mentally ill in love, as these examples seem to say? William Shakespeare: “Love is merely a madness,” from “As You Like It.” Friedrich Nietzsche: “There is always some madness in love.” “Got me looking, got me looking so crazy in love” from the great philosopher, Beyoncé Knowles. What is your summary statement about love?
- We have a culture that values lifelong monogamy but it seems like we want it both ways: we want love to feel like madness, and we want it to last an entire lifetime. Agree or disagree with this statement and explain your position to someone,
- Linguists Mark Johnson and George Lakoff suggest a new metaphor, “love as a collaborative work of art”. So if love is a collaborative work of art, then love is an aesthetic experience. Love is unpredictable, love is creative, love requires communication and discipline, it is frustrating and emotionally demanding. And love involves both joy and pain. Ultimately, each experience of love is different. Do you believe this is a better way to think of love?
Making the Connections:
Here are the thirty-six Questions to establish intimacy mentioned in the articles. Give them a try with someone you like.
- Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
- Would you like to be famous? In what way?
- Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?
- What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
- When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
- If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
- Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?
- Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.
- For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
- If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
- Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.
- If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
- If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?
- Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
- What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
- What do you value most in a friendship?
- What is your most treasured memory?
- What is your most terrible memory?
- If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?
- What does friendship mean to you?
- What roles do love and affection play in your life?
- Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items.
- How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?
- How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?
- Make three true “we” statements each. For instance, “We are both in this room feeling … “
- Complete this sentence: “I wish I had someone with whom I could share … “
- If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.
- Tell your partner what you like about them; be very honest this time, saying things that you might not say to someone you’ve just met.
- Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.
- When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?
- Tell your partner something that you like about them already.
- What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?
- If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet?
- Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?
- Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?
- Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how he or she might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.