5 Lessons We Can Learn about Happy Relationships from Ancient Philosophers!

5 Lessons We Can Learn about Happy Relationships from Ancient Philosophers!

We all know how important positive relationships are for our happiness. 

And we all know that Positive Psychologists and modern day relationship experts have written much about positive relationships and happiness. 

But did you know that philsophers have also broached both these topics? 

In this great ABC article, we share with you 5 tips for relationship happiness from existential philsophers…

by Dr. Skye Cleary

In the western world, lovers are free from arranged marriages. Yet all too often we bring chains to relationships in the form of misplaced expectations and ideals. Skye Cleary, the author of Existentialism and Romantic Love reaches for her existential classics for help, with five philosophical tips for a happy love life.

Max Stirner, Søren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Simone de Beauvoir all dealt with love and existential themes, but they all had different ideas about romantic love. Yet they all loved loving and sought to explore the sources of frustrations in romantic relationships and how relationships could be more meaningful.  Below are five key existential messages for 21st century lovers.

The best love relationships are those where lovers are free and equal

Too often, lovers use relationships as an escape from the world, according to Simone de Beauvoir. The feeling of security is comforting, but it becomes problematic when lovers make the relationship the only source of meaning in their lives. This is a risky way to be in a relationship because love that lasts a lifetime is the exception, not the rule.

Instead, de Beauvoir advised lovers not to become so dependent on one another that they can’t exist without each other. Relationships are more interesting and stronger if both lovers pursue rich and diversified lives through their authentic projects. Ideally, adopting common goals shifts lovers’ focus onto something other than themselves, enhancing their understandings of one another.

The best love relationships are those that are free and intimate

De Beauvoir’s lifelong boyfriend Jean-Paul Sartre thought that in order to know ourselves we need to know what other people think of us. Lovers are especially important because the more one cares about another, the more the other’s views matter. The more intimate lovers are, the deeper insights they give each other. Yet lovers can’t know if the other is telling the truth, so they try to capture each other’s freedom to force the truth.  This leads to sadomasochistic power games that can’t be won—we can’t possess another’s freedom. This, Sartre thought, is why love is really conflict.

Later Sartre said that an authentic love would not try to rob the other of their freedom. Sartre and de Beauvoir attempted this by giving each other the freedom to fall in love with other people. Although their other lovers knew about the agreement, they were hurt when they realized that their love wouldn’t conquer all. It’s possible to view Sartre and de Beauvoir’s commitment to each another and Sartre’s financial and emotional support of many ex-girlfriends as contradicting their freedom. Sartre explained it philosophically as freely choosing his priorities, and practically as preferring ‘to be a fool than a jerk’.  De Beauvoir said that it was his ‘guilty conscience’…

…keep reading the full & original article HERE