We love only what we do not wholly possess


A virtual reality

I must choose to cease from suffering or cease from loving. For, just as in the beginning it is formed by desire, so afterwards love is kept in existence only by a painful anxiety. I felt part of Albertine’s life eluded me. Love, in the pain of anxiety as in the bliss of desire, is a demand for a whole. It is born, and it survives, only if some part remains for it to conquer. We love only what we do not wholly possess. Albertine was lying when she told me that she probably would not go to see the Verdurins, as I was lying when I said that I wished to go. She was seeking merely to dissuade me from going out with her, and I, by my abrupt announcement of this plan which I had no intention of putting into practice, to touch what I felt to be her most sensitive spot, to track down the desire that she was concealing and to force her to admit that my company next day would prevent her from gratifying it. She had virtually made this admission by ceasing suddenly to wish to go see the Verdurins.

by Marcel Proust (10 July 1871 – 18 November 1922)
from The Captive (1923)
image – Gattou/Lucie

Romantic Obsession

This is fiction, but it is also based on the author’s real experience.

In real life, after the fact, how much of this will be remembered? My guess is there will be a symbolic early turning point where the ache of desire became the uncertainty of longing. The individual spats will be absorbed and blurred by time, leaving half-memories that are devoid of reason and steeped in emotion.

As love fails, there is a tendency to fight for the idea of the relationship – not what is. Instead of a clear picture of who the other person is, the object of desire becomes our idea of what we want that person to be.

Will there also be a turning point back to trust? Changing the situation might change the outcome, but when emotional investment is not focused on accepting reality, any change will carry with it the same insecurity – or impossibility. You might even call it tilting at windmills.

| More

2 Responses to “We love only what we do not wholly possess”

  1. Abimbola Akanwo Says:

    Complex post…

    “We love only what we do not wholly possess.” I hope Marcel Proust observation was not referring to another human being…it is unrealistic and egoist to presume that another person can be owned/possessed…

    “Will there also be a turning point back to trust?” – I do not believe that trust once lost, can be regained.

    If a relationship “survives” or appeared to have survived a crisis due to lack of trust (perceived or otherwise), then it would be because the trust was not totally lost in the first place…

    However the trust would have been shaken…the relationship could still fail.

    Trust is built on many layers…

    If one or both partner in the relationship start dismantling the trust in the relationship – lack of communication is a good way to start dismantling trust.

    The layers of trust are peeled away (rapidly in some relationship, slowly in others…becoming rapid as the relationship nears an end) by unallayed doubts.

    I do not believe that it is possible to rebuilt a totally lost trust, much better to walk away from what would have become a meaningless relationship.

    It may or may not be possible to rebuilt a shaken trust…it would depend on the people in the relationship and how much the relationship means to them…without a two way communication, including face to face (yeah, stating the obvious I know, but some people think face to face communication is unnecessary…), the shaken trust cannot be rebuilt…without trust, there is no relationship.

  2. E. A. Able Says:

    I want to be an optimist, so I’ll say that regaining trust is possible. It has to be based on genuine change, or a genuine acceptance that there would be no change. If there is a wrongdoer, they have to truly repent and change their ways. For me, accepting this change would depend on how broken things were in the first place. Whatever was behind a deep betrayal would also have to change.

    Acceptance can’t fix everything. If someone who cheats is still cheating, the cheated-on may do crazy things to their own personality to convince themselves they can stay.

    I have read parts of Proust, but not the whole multi-volume Remembrance. It is significant that this part is called The Captive. He is in love with someone he cannot trust. Many of his observations are about what being in love like that does to his perceptions – his “remembrance.”

    Aside –
    I love this line: Love, in the pain of anxiety as in the bliss of desire, is a demand for a whole.