Alain de Botton and the complexity of modern love

Changes in society and culture have had significant impacts on our relationships and our views on marriage. Centuries ago, not much thought was given to personal happiness and fulfillment – family pressure, procreation and security were often the main drivers for creating a marital bond.

Cultural shifts and emancipation, longer lifespans, and even dating apps have changed this paradigm. With that, so do our relationship expectations – from spouse to soul mate, and even teammate. Although the complexities of modern love have opened up a whole new world, they have also brought disappointment and frustration. Has love lost its luster or do we lose our way when we focus too much on the wrong things?

Philosopher, co-founder and president of the School of Life, Alain de Botton has made it his mission to show and teach the relevance of philosophy in everyday life. His books include “Essays in Love”, “Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person” and “How Proust Can Change Your Life”..

Jonathan Bastian speaks with de Botton about societal pressures on the modern relationship and hears advice on how to embrace our partners’ imperfections and allow for compassion and understanding. De Botton posits that a partner should “be able to forgive us for our strangeness and have tenderness for our most troublesome sides”.

De Botton also addresses and relates to some of the most difficult emotions we face as individuals: loneliness, failure and disappointment. His advice? “To be the people we really want to be, we have to be extremely tough editors of the messages that reach our ears.

The School of Life and Alain de Botton. Photo by Rosie Hardy

Sharon D. Cole