“Why do you love me so much? I can’t do this anymore, you’re stifling me.”? I stared at her in bewilderment as to what she was saying. This isn’t how someone is meant to initiate the ‘break-up’ conversation, mind you.
It was like I was slapped in the face, all the wind drained from my lungs and my iPhone screen purposefully cracked to the point of irreparable damage. “I can’t help it, I just think you’re perfect”. In my mind I’m thinking “Why is this happening” and, more importantly, “why does this hurt so much”. The Greek philosopher, Plato and his theory about Forms, can help understand why love is so confusing.
Plato (425 BC – 369 BC) proposed the idea that anything that is real and in front of us, be it a desk or a glass of water, are just physical manifestations of our ideas of them. He rejected the notion that we can know about objects through our senses as our senses can sometimes be faulty.
These ideas we create about things are in their most perfect form and constitute what he terms "knowledge". Real objects that we can use our senses to perceive are then just imperfect replicas of their true form.
For example, imagine a circle. In your mind, it's perfectly circular but if you had to draw a circle with a pencil and paper it wouldn’t be perfectly circular or symmetrical unless you use some sort of tool to help you.
This means it's rainbows and picnics under the starlit evening sky in our minds when we think of love while in reality, it is not as pristine as we would imagine it. This sense of perfection can lead us to disappointment when we realise the real life situation is not what we perceived it to be.
So what if there isn’t such a thing as love at first sight as we fool ourselves to believe. Love founded on friendship has the qualities to sustain a relationship far longer than one founded on romanticism. Perhaps it is the hope of finding that right person who likes us for our annoying chuckle or love for Marmite that keeps us trying after (many) failed attempts. We may have been blinded by our perceptions of what love is meant to be by our idea its perfection.
Love isn’t perfect, nor should it be. The truth about love is that we talk about it as if it’s something we’re somehow owed but it really isn't. The truth about love is that it’s not an end-all to our problems. The truth about love is that someone can love you very much and still be careless or hurtful. The truth is that love hurts and doesn’t come in the way we envision it, but that doesn’t mean we should renounce it completely.
Being able to grasp the concept of forms is useful to us as it allows for one to be able to see the true essence of everything in its utmost Form of goodness and allow us to have an ideal to ascribe to.
So the next time love hurts and you feel like you can’t go on, just think about Plato (as unusual as that may be) and remind yourself that that perfect idea you had about a person and how love is meant to be may not be the actual reality of the situation.
“Love is a serious mental disease”, to put it in Platos words, and yet we always find a way to continue being delusional.