30+ quotes from Essays in Love by Alain de Botton

Quotes from Essays in Love

Alain de Botton ·  211 pages

Rating: (14.7K votes)


“Every fall into love involves the triumph of hope over self-knowledge. We fall in love hoping we won't find in another what we know is in ourselves, all the cowardice, weakness, laziness, dishonesty, compromise, and stupidity. We throw a cordon of love around the chosen one and decide that everything within it will somehow be free of our faults. We locate inside another a perfection that eludes us within ourselves, and through our union with the beloved hope to maintain (against the evidence of all self-knowledge) a precarious faith in our species.”
― Alain de Botton, quote from Essays in Love


“We are all more intelligent than we are capable, and awareness of the insanity of love has never saved anyone from the disease.”
― Alain de Botton, quote from Essays in Love


“Perhaps it is true that we do not really exist until there is someone there to see us existing, we cannot properly speak until there is someone who can understand what we are saying in essence, we are not wholly alive until we are loved.”
― Alain de Botton, quote from Essays in Love


“We fall in love because we long to escape from ourselves with someone as beautiful, intelligent, and witty as we are ugly, stupid, and dull. But what if such a perfect being should one day turn around and decide they will love us back? We can only be somewhat shocked-how can they be as wonderful as we had hoped when they have the bad taste to approve of someone like us?”
― Alain de Botton, quote from Essays in Love


“It was no longer her absence that wounded me, but my growing indifference to it. Forgetting, however calming, was also a reminder of infidelity to what I had at one time held so dear.”
― Alain de Botton, quote from Essays in Love


“To be loved by someone is to realize how much they share the same needs that lie at the heart of our own attraction to them. Albert Camus suggested that we fall in love with people because, from the outside, they look so whole, physically whole and emotionally 'together' - when subjectively we feel dispersed and confused. We would not love if there were no lack within us, but we are offended by the discovery of a similar lack in the other. Expecting to find the answer, we find only the duplicate of our own problem.”
― Alain de Botton, quote from Essays in Love


“The more familiar two people become, the more the language they speak together departs from that of the ordinary, dictionary-defined discourse. Familiarity creates a new language, an in-house language of intimacy that carries reference to the story the two lovers are weaving together and that cannot be readily understood by others.”
― Alain de Botton, quote from Essays in Love


“.. if you asked most people whether they believed in love or not, they’d probably say they didn’t. Yet that’s not necessarily what they truly think. It’s just the way they defend themselves against what they want. They believe in it, but pretend they don’t until they’re allowed to. Most people would throw away all their cynicism if they could. The majority just never gets the chance.”
― Alain de Botton, quote from Essays in Love


“Everyone returns us to a different sense of ourselves, for we become a little of who they think we are.”
― Alain de Botton, quote from Essays in Love


“Must being in love always mean being in pain?”
― Alain de Botton, quote from Essays in Love


“Perhaps the easiest people to fall in love with are those about whom
we know nothing. Romances are never as pure as those we imagine during
long train journeys, as we secretly contemplate a beautiful person who is
gazing out of the window – a perfect love story interrupted only when the
beloved looks back into the carriage and starts up a dull conversation
about the excessive price of the on-board sandwiches with a neighbour or
blows her nose aggressively into a handkerchief.”
― Alain de Botton, quote from Essays in Love


“The most attractive are not those who allow us to kiss them at once [we soon feel ungrateful] or those who never allow us to kiss them [we soon forget them], but those who coyly lead us between the two extremes.”
― Alain de Botton, quote from Essays in Love


“If cynicism and love lie at opposite ends of a spectrum, do we not sometimes fall in love in order to escape the debilitating cynicism to which we are prone? Is there not in every coup de foudre a certain willful exaggeration of the qualities of the beloved, an exaggeration which distracts us from our habitual pessimism and focuses our energies on someone in whom we can believe in a way we have never believed in ourselves?”
― Alain de Botton, quote from Essays in Love


“The telephone becomes an instrument of torture in the demonic hands of a beloved who doesn't call.”
― Alain de Botton, quote from Essays in Love


“Unrequited love may be painful, but it is safely painful, because it does not involve inflicting damage on anyone but oneself, a private pain that is as bitter-sweet as it is self-induced. But as soon as love is reciprocated, one must be prepared to give up the passivity of simply being hurt to take on the responsibility of perpetrating hurt oneself.”
― Alain de Botton, quote from Essays in Love


“There is a longing for a return to a time without the need for choices, free of the regret at the inevitable loss that all choice (however wonderful) has entailed.”
― Alain de Botton, quote from Essays in Love


“In the oasis complex, the thirsty man images he sees water, palm trees, and shade not because he has evidence for the belief, but because he has a need for it. Desperate needs bring about a hallucination of their solution: thirst hallucinates water, the need for love hallucinates a prince or princess. The oasis complex is never a complete delusion: the man in the desert does see something on the horizon. It is just that the palms have withered, the well is dry, and the place is infected with locusts.”
― Alain de Botton, quote from Essays in Love


“Her lie was symptomatic of a certain pride she took in mocking the romantic, in being unsentimental, matter-of-fact, stoic; yet at heart she was the opposite: idealistic, dreamy, giving, and deeply attached to everything she liked verbally to dismiss as "mushy.”
― Alain de Botton, quote from Essays in Love


“The inability to live in the present lies in the fear of leaving the sheltered position of anticipation or memory, and so of admitting that this is the only life that one is ever likely (heavenly intervention aside) to live.”
― Alain de Botton, quote from Essays in Love


“The longing for destiny is nowhere stronger than in our romantic life.”
― Alain de Botton, quote from Essays in Love


“We wanted to test each other's capacity for survival: only if we had tried in vain to destroy one another would we know we were safe.”
― Alain de Botton, quote from Essays in Love


“As Proust once said, classically beautiful women should be left to men without imagination.”
― Alain de Botton, quote from Essays in Love


“Perhaps because the origins of a certain kind of love lie in an impulse to escape ourselves and out weaknesses by an alliance with the beautiful and noble. But if the loved ones love us back, we are forced to return to ourselves, and are hence reminded of the things that had driven us into love in the first place. Perhaps it was not love we wanted after all, perhaps it was simply someone in whom to believe, but how can we continue to believe the the beloved now that they believe in us?”
― Alain de Botton, quote from Essays in Love


“In the end, I've found that it doesn't really matter who you marry. If you like them at the beginning, you probably won't like them at the end. And if you start off hating them, there's always the chance you'll end up thinking they're all right.”
― Alain de Botton, quote from Essays in Love


“What is so frightening is the extent to which we may idealize others when we have such trouble tolerating ourselves”
― Alain de Botton, quote from Essays in Love


“Everyone returns us to a different sense of ourselves, for we become a little of who they think we are. Our selves could be compared to an amoeba, whose outer walls are elastic, and therefore adapt to the environment. It is not that the amoeba has no dimensions, simply that it has no self-defined shape. It is my absurdist side that an absurdist person will draw out of me, and my seriousness that a serious person will evoke. If someone thinks I am shy, I will probably end up shy, if someone thinks me funny, I am likely to keep cracking jokes.”
― Alain de Botton, quote from Essays in Love


“We had often read the same books at night in the same bed, and later realized that they had touched us in different places: that they had been different books for each of us. Might the same divergence not occur over a single love-line? I felt like a dandelion releasing hundreds of spores into the air - and not knowing if any of them would get through.”
― Alain de Botton, quote from Essays in Love


“Yet we can perhaps only ever fall in love without knowing quite who we have fallen in love with. The initial convulsion is necessarily founded on ignorance.”
― Alain de Botton, quote from Essays in Love


“In Plato's Symposium, Aristophanes accounts for this feeling of familiarity by claiming that the loved one was our long-lost 'other half to whose body our own had originally been joined. In the beginning, all human beings were hermaphrodites with double backs and flanks, four hands and four legs and two faces turned in opposite directions on the same head. These hermaphrodites were so powerful and their pride so overweening that Zeus was forced to cut them in two, into a male and female half – and from that day, every man and woman has yearned nostalgically but confusedly to rejoin the part from which he or she was severed.”
― Alain de Botton, quote from Essays in Love


“By forty, everyone has the face they deserve,’ wrote George Orwell,”
― Alain de Botton, quote from Essays in Love


About the author

Alain de Botton
Born place: in Zurich, Switzerland
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